#StayAtHome Film Festival: Kerry’s Fashion Picks

Looking to escape your living room lockdown by gazing at beautiful dresses and appreciating elegant design? Missing popping out for some lunchtime window shopping?  Dreaming of the opportunity to wear something more classy than trackies?  We have you covered!

Our online resources contain a surprising amount of fashion related content, from movies, to the all important magazines, and a whole resource dedicated to the Vogue archive.  You will never not know what a minaudiere is again.

Beamafilm, our online movie streaming platform, have a whole category dedicated to fashion films aptly titled Fabulous Fashion – so you can binge all of the movies.  Below is a selection of my documentary picks about well-known designers.

Dior and I

Year: 2014
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Frédéric Tcheng

Watch the full film here!

Raf Simons is one of the most revered designers of the last few years.  So much so that he will soon be joining Miuccia Prada at the helm of Prada – quite the honor!  This fascinating documentary covers his career at Dior, and in particular, the creation of his first haute couture collection for the house.  It is a real behind the scenes glimpse at both Raf and Dior, extremely chic and surprisingly emotional.  You can read an interview with director Fredereic Tcheng (from Interview magazine) here.


Year: 2018
Length: 111 minutes
Director: Ian Bonhote

Watch the full film here!

McQueen follows the meteoric rise of Alexander McQueen as he was discovered and set up his own fashion label.  He was an incredibly inspired designer and the film highlights how innovative and influential he was on the fashion world during the late nineties and oughties.  It’s also a very moving film that looks a the challenges he faced professionally and personally and his eventual decline into depression.  A good watch for some drama. Vogue UK comprehensively covered this documentary, the director’s and McQueen’s legacy: begin your reading here.


Year: 2017
Length: 89 minutes
Director: Reiner Holzemer

Watch the full film here!

I watched this film recently and it is pure escapism.  Dries van Noten is a very elegant designer who creates beautiful, wearable – and covetable! – clothes.  This documentary looks at his career trajectory and design processes, following the creation of a collection and the corresponding fashion show.  We also see behind the scenes into his life, relationship and mind-blowing house.  Worth it just for the glimpse into his garden – the kind of magical garden we only can only dream of, especially at the moment.  (Here is a video interview with director Reiner Holzemer.)

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Year: 2018
Length: 80 minutes
Director: Lorna Tucker

Watch the full film here!

Vivienne Westwood is a principled designer and activist whose message is more relevant than ever.  Throughout her career she has always espoused consuming less, protecting the environment and engaging with society.  This documentary takes us into her world, showing us what motivates her work.  It is told mainly in her words, through interviews – somewhat painfully and grouchily drawn out of her.  The movie also illustrates just how ground-breaking and iconic Westwood is in both her designs and lifestyle.  Director Lorna Tucker calls Westwood her hero, read an interview with her here.

Discover More:

Image from ‘The Wanderers’ Vogue, March 2010, v200 n3
For further reading on any of these designers you could try our Vogue Archive online tool.  It offers access to all the content from US Vogue, from 1892 to the present, both images and articles.  You can search for a designer or brand (or any topic or keyword) and it will show you articles, editorials and fashion shoots, and even adverts.  All high-resolution, downloadable, full-page, colour images.  The ability to limit your search results to find exactly what you want is incredibly detailed – you can search for a year, a fabric, an illustration, a type of clothing or style.  The perfect lockdown activity! (Click here for a Youtube tutorial to get you started.)

Who knows what changes will come to the fashion industry and magazine publishing post-Covid-19, so time for some reading now!  The library has a huge range of fashion magazines available, in lots of different languages, through our online magazine platforms – RBdigital and Pressreader.  My pick would be Vogue UK (pictured above and found in RBdigital) which is edited by Edward Enninful, who has created a magazine that addresses the challenges of inclusivity and sustainability.  Also pictured are Vogue India and Vogue Russia which, along with Vogue US and Vogue Australia, can be found in RBdigital.

Did you know that magazines from RBdigital and Pressreader can be read for free, on your computer or in an app on your tablet or phone?  You can download magazine issues to your device to read offline – and keep forever!  – as well as set up alerts that let you know when the latest issues are available.  You can find help getting started with these resources through our eLibrary here.  The RBdigital and Pressreader apps are available to download for free from the Google Play or Apple stores.




New for RBdigital online magazines in 2020

 The library has just renewed our RBdigital online magazine subscriptions for 2020. This provides us with a good opportunity to review our collection and look at what new magazines are on offer. Unfortunately, there’s always some cancellations too – either by us (due to performance), by RBdigital (which is beyond our control) or because they are no longer being published.

First up, this year’s new magazines include popular magazines Australian House and Garden, Period Living and New Zealand Property Investor, as well as BBC Sky at Night, Motorcycle Trader, New Idea and staff pick, The Hollywood Reporter.  All are available to read and download now, and come with a year’s worth of back issues.

Titles that have gone this year are Bass Player, Kung Fu Tai Chi, Popshot Journal and That’s Life; three magazines that have ceased publication: Smith Journal, Web Designer and National Geographic Traveller ; and three that now available to read through Pressreader: NZ Weddings, New York magazine and Town and Country UK.

If you love magazines and haven’t used RBdigital before then it is well worth a look!  RBdigital provides us with lots of magazines that you can read for free, on your computer or in the RBdigital app on your tablet or phone.  You can also download magazines to your device to read offline – and keep them forever!  You can find the RBdigital homepage through our eLibrary.  There’s a helpful userguide to get you started, all you’ll need is your library card and PIN number.  The RBdigital app is available to download for free from the Google Play or Apple stores.

So check it out!  And if you need any help, pop in to your local library for assistance or fill out our technical support form to put you in touch with our eLibrary team.

Looking for a movie to watch tonight?

To start you on your Kanopy and Beamafilm movie journey we’ve got some librarian recommendations for you – of course! 

Monty, the digital selector (and long-time film fan) has created a playlist of his cult movie favourites in Kanopy.  Both Kanopy and Beamafilms allow you to create lists of your must-watch movies, which can be saved to your account.  Both also keep details of your viewing history.  So you’ll always be able to find something to watch!

Our picks from Kanopy

Access Kanopy About Kanopy

Monty, who buys the library’s eBooks and eAudiobooks, has chosen his favourites:

Hidden – Caché (2005)
“A married couple is terrorized by a series of surveillance videotapes left on their front porch.” (From IMDb)
Watch the trailer on YouTube.

Night on Earth (1991)
“An anthology of 5 different cab drivers in 5 American and European cities and their remarkable fares on the same eventful night. ” (From IMDb)
Watch the trailer on YouTube.

Paris, Texas (1984)
“Travis Henderson, an aimless drifter who has been missing for four years, wanders out of the desert and must reconnect with society, himself, his life, and his family.” (From IMDb)
Watch the trailer on YouTube.

Our picks from Beamafilm

Access Beamafilm About Beamafilm

Kerry, the serials librarian (that’s magazines and newspapers), has chosen her top three, past-film-festival, documentaries in Beamafilm.

Dior and I (2014)
“A thrilling behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’s highly anticipated first Haute Couture collection as Christian Dior’s new Artistic Director.” (From Catalogue)

Take Every Wave (2017)
“This is the remarkable story of an American icon who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, this in-depth portrait of a hard-charging athlete explores the fear, courage and ambition that push a man to greatness–and the cost that comes with it.” (From IMDb)

A Band Called Death (2012)
“A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.” (From IMDb)

Online movie streaming now at Wellington City Libraries

Two streaming platforms — Kanopy and Beamafilm — are available for you to watch a huge selection of indie and world movies, film festival favourites, award-winning documentaries, classic cinema and kids movies!

On our website, you can access both of these streaming platforms from our eLibrary homepage.

You’ll find some introductory information below — plus both the Kanopy and Beamafilm websites have comprehensive help pages if you need more information.)

About Kanopy

Access Kanopy

What is Kanopy? What kind of movies does it have?

Kanopy is a streaming platform that focuses on thoughtful entertainment, including some of the world’s best cinema.  They offer over 30,000 movies, with new titles added every month.

It will also give you access to Kanopy Kids, for kids’ content, and The Great Courses collection for lectures from top scholars around the world.

Who can access it?

It’s available to Wellington City adult residents, ratepayers and workers — access it with your library membership. Not a member? Find about more about joining.

How many movies can I watch?

You’ll get 6 movie credits per month, which means you’ll be able to watch 6 movies for free, and those credits will reset at the beginning of each month.

(Every movie you start watching with Kanopy counts against your play credits, with the exception of Kanopy Kids content and The Great Courses collection.)

How do I use it?

To watch movies:

  • Visit either wcl.kanopy.com, or go through our eLibrary homepage and choose ‘Kanopy’
  • Create a Kanopy account — you’ll be prompted to select your library (Wellington City Libraries), and confirm your library card details (your PIN/password for your library card is your last name) – then away you go!

Films can be streamed from any internet connected device including computers, phones or tablets and on TV’s via Chromecast, AppleTV or HDMI.  There’s also an app for Android and IOS devices.


Access Beamafilm

What is Beamafilm? What kind of films does it have?

Beamafilm is a streaming platform that has a curated collection of international movies and documentaries, with a strong Australasian focus.  They have over 500 movies to choose from and new titles are added regularly.

Who can access it?

It’s available to anyone who holds a Wellington City Libraries’ adult membership card (any adult membership card type). Just login using your library card details, then create a Beamafilm account to start watching movies.

Not a member? Find about more about joining

How many movies can I watch?

You’ll get 10 movie credits per month, which means you’ll be able to watch 10 movies for free, and those credits will reset at the beginning of each month.

How do I access it?

Unlike Kanopy, with Beamafilm you’ll need to authenticate that you’re a Wellington City Libraries borrower every time you access the site:

  • Visit our eLibrary home page and click on Beamafilm, or visit wellingtoncitylibraries.beamafilm.com. Enter your library card number to confirm you’re a member of Wellington City Libraries
  • Create your Beamafilm account or log in to your existing Beamafilm account and start watching

Films can also be streamed from any internet connected device including computers, phones or tablets and on TV’s via Chromecast, AppleTV or HDMI.

Some of our Central Library magazines have found new homes

A selection of over 70 magazines that you used to find at the Central Library have recently found new homes at some of our branch libraries. View the complete list of the reallocated magazines and their new locations.

These magazines are now available to be borrowed – pop into the library to browse the collection, or you  search our catalogue by title – where you’ll be able to reserve the issue you want for free, to be picked up from the branch you choose.

Lunch Lady has found a new home at Kilbirnie library; a selection of new-to-Karori library magazines.

The libraries where you can find formerly-Central magazines are Brooklyn, Island Bay, Karori, Newtown, Tawa and Wadestown.

New magazine issues for the branches

New magazines are slowly, but surely, heading out to branches now! With the closure of Central Library, there was no space to receive deliveries but the team have set up a temporary work space and are now able to unpack, sort and distribute new magazines to branches.

Don’t forget that many of our print magazines are also available through our eMagazine resources RBdigital and Pressreader.  You’ll be able to find the latest issues of The Listener, The Economist, the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, Country Life, The Oldie and many, many more on these platforms as soon as they are published.  You can find RBdigital and Pressreader in our eLibrary.  Helpful information on getting started is here.


New magazines for RBdigital in 2019

The RBdigital magazine subscriptions have been renewed for 2019 and there’s a few changes to take note of this year.
Firstly the good news – lots of new magazines for you! The new year kicks off from the evening of March the 1st and from that day you can expect to find some different magazines.  Hopefully something for everyone!


The new ones are: SUP World, American and Russian Vogues, Juno (investing made simple), Popshot (a UK literary magazine), the Paris Review, That’s Life, New York magazine, Junkies magazine (an Australian upcycling magazine), Womankind, Dumbo Feather, Entrepreneur, Kamuke Ukulele. They all come with a year’s worth of back issues.

The not so good news is that some magazines have gone from our RBdigital collection this year.  This is because they were either, no longer available to renew (which is unfortunately beyond our control) or no longer being published.  These magazines are: The Atlantic, Redbook, Shutterbug, Cosomopolitan (Australia), Dog’s Life, Donna Hay, Gamesmaster, Linux User and Developer, Martha Stewart Living, Wood Magazine and Men’s Fitness (USA).  They will disappear from RBdigital at the same time as the new ones arrive (from the evening of March 1st).

If you haven’t used RBdigital before it is well worth a look!  RBdigital provides us with lots of magazines that you can read, for free, on your computer, or in the RBdigital app on your tablet, phone or other device.  If you download them to your device you can read magazines offline – and keep them forever!  You can find the RBdigital homepage in our eLibrary or through our Mygateway pages.  There’s a helpful userguide to get you started, all you’ll need is your library card.  The RBdigital app is available to download for free from the Play or Apple stores.  So check it out and if you need any help, pop in to your local library for assistance or fill out our technical support form to put you in touch with our eLibrary team.

New for RBdigital in 2018


We have just renewed our RBdigital magazine subscriptions for 2018.  We always use this time as an opportunity to review our collection and look at what new magazines are on offer.  There’s always some cancellations too – either by us (due to performance), or by RBdigital as sometimes magazines are no longer available to renew (which is beyond our control).

This year you can expect to see five new magazines – UK House and Garden; Australian Men’s Fitness; Minecraft World, W magazine and New Zealand’s Metro magazine.
The titles that are no longer available are – Australian Rolling Stone; Australian Metro; Girlfriend; Horrible Histories, Vanity Fair and Renegade Collective.

All changes will kick off from March 1st, so expect to see the new magazines from then.  All back issues of the cancelled magazines will still be available to read and download for a while after that date.

If you haven’t used RBdigital before then now is the time!  They provide us with lots magazines that you can read for free and if you download them to your device you can keep them forever.  You can find the RBdigital homepage in our elibrary or through our Mygateway pages.  There’s a helpful userguide to get you started, all you’ll need is your library card.  The RBdigital app is available to download for free from the Play or Apple stores and it allows you to read magazines offline.  So check it out and if you need any help, pop in to your local library for assistance or fill out our technical support form to put you in touch with our elibrary team.

Drama Online & BWB Texts now available!

The library has purchased two new online tools for you to use through our website – Bloomsbury Drama Online and BWB Text Collection.  Both can be found on our Mygateway page (the home of our online resources) and can be accessed either at home or in the library.

Firstly, Drama Online is a one stop shop for anyone with an interest in drama.   This award winning database features over 1,200 classic and contemporary play texts, including the complete works of Shakespeare. Background to the plays are provided through critical scholarly works, theory and practical “how to” guides. There is also streaming video of live performances from Shakespeare’s Globe and professional audio recordings from L.A. Theatre Works. You can search for and sort plays and monologues using cast size, gender, roles, genre, period, author, setting and theme filters.

Feedback from the talented thespians on staff is that it should have real appeal to students, drama teachers and those involved in community theatre.  Dive straight in and have a play (haha) or check out this overview below.

The second online tool is from Bridget Williams, the BWB Text Collection.  Bridget Williams Books is a well-known local publisher of New Zealand print books and recently they have also developed an ebook platform. We previously purchased the BWB Treaty of Waitangi Collection and have now added Texts Collection to our offerings.

The BWB Texts Collection brings together a diverse group of short ebooks on the big issues facing New Zealand by some of the country’s best writers and commentators. Topics covered include: the housing crisis, climate change, child poverty, inequality, the 1981 Springbox tour and public health.

One of the big positives for us all is that they are so easy to use – titles are meant to be read in the web browser, and this can be any web browser on any device.  There’s no downloading involved, just click on the title and read!   And the number of users are unlimited.

Big Library Read with Overdrive ebooks now on!

Every three months Overdrive, one of our eBook providers, runs a ‘Big Library Read’.  Described a ‘global eBook club’, the ‘big read’ allows library users the chance to borrow a certain eBook simultaneously, to be read altogether – just like you would with your book club!  (There are even discussion questions if you’re interested here and here).  This time the big read will be running from Thursday October 8th until Wednesday the 21st.

The latest offerings are two young adult novels – The door in the hedge’ by Robin McKinley and In the shadows of blackbirds’ by Cat Winters.  This is the first time two different books have been offered at once and these two were chosen by library staff and the public, who were able to vote for their favourite choice.  They should be good then!

Overdrive cover The Door in the Hedge, by Robin McKinley (eBook)
Robin McKinley is a well known and award-winning young adult writer. This book is a collection of fantasy stories about faerieland featuring princes, princesses, frogs and other fairy tale characters you’ll know well.


Overdrive cover In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters (eBook)
On a completely different note is Cat Winter’s novel – a historical horror romance mash-up. It’s about a young woman in America dealing with the 1918 Spanish influenza outbreak, who has to struggle not just with a world in turmoil but also ghosts of those who have succumbed to the illness.
Both of these titles are available from Overdrive, in our elibrary.  From October 8th, the start of the big read, for the two following weeks they will be available for anyone who wants to borrow them – no waiting or reserving!


link to blog post about the big library read

New Fiction Genre Stickers

genrestacktwoWe now have new fiction stickers!
Two new genres will be easily identified by a coloured sticker that will appear along the spine of the book.  They are Historical, which is green.  and Thrillers, which is a goldy yellow.  They’re almost exactly the same as our current ones (mysteries and science fiction and fantasy) as they’re similar in appearance – a coloured label with the genre word, stuck near the bottom of the spine.
We’re hoping they make your fiction browsing more enjoyable and the stickers help you to find some of your favourite authors, genres or just something good to read!


Kerry’s Fiction Picks: An interview with Richard Jackson

rsz_confessions-revised_2Last week I suggested the upcoming novel from writer Richard Jackson, Confessions of a Terrorist.  He was delighted to have his novel mentioned by Wellington City Libraries and offered us the chance to interview him about his new book and the topic of terrorism.  Jackson is a Professor of Peace Studies at Otago University; he has written extensively on terrorism – journal articles, academic books and chapters.  Jackson also edits a journal on terrorism,  Critical studies on Terrorism, and maintains his own blog on the subject.

So how could we say no to the chance to hear more about this exciting book!?  Here’s what he had to say.

2rsz_1portrait_-_rj-5On your blog you talk about wanting to give a glimpse into a terrorist’s mind, to humanise them and present a terrorist as a fully formed person with feelings and ideas.  Was this your main motivation for writing a fictional novel about terrorism?

Humanising ‘terrorists’ was definitely one of the main motivations for writing the novel. It is a feature of our current society that ‘terrorists’ have been thoroughly dehumanised and demonised, largely through the medium of politics and culture, including in most contemporary literature about terrorism. The danger of dehumanising any group of people – terrorists, murderers, paedophiles, gang members – is that it frequently results in human rights abuses and the erosion of civil liberties more broadly. The consequence of so thoroughly dehumanising ‘terrorists’ in recent years, for example, has been the spread of torture, rendition, targeted killings, mass surveillance, the erosion of habeas corpus, and other insidious illiberal practices. More prosaically, of course, the dehumanisation of ‘terrorists’ is a misrepresentation of reality and factually incorrect. They are not inhuman creatures; they are flesh and blood and completely human in the way you and I are. I know this in part because I’ve talked to people who were convicted of terrorism and have since been released. I’ve even invited them to speak at my conferences. From one perspective then, my novel is an attempt to address this widespread cultural misperception and break down the stereotypes that have arisen about ‘terrorists’ and their motivations. As I argue in the introduction to the book, I believe that this is a necessary first step towards finding a more productive and positive way of responding to acts of politically motivated violence, one that doesn’t involved sacrificing our social and political values in the process.

Had a story been forming in your mind while you went about your academic career?  Were you inspired by the people you encountered through your academic writing?

Actually, it was a very conscious and deliberate decision to write a novel about terrorism at a particular point in my career. I had not considered it before. After publishing eight academic books and dozens of articles, I realised that only a very small academic audience ever read my work and it had very little impact beyond the academy. I also noted that there were too few novels about terrorism that I could honestly recommend to my students as a way of animating them about the subject. I came to believe that writing my own novel might be a more effective way of reaching a wider audience and engaging my students. Once I decided to write the novel, I then had to work out a good story, characters, dialogue and the like. I shared my initial thoughts with people I trusted, and over a number of drafts and a lot of conversations, a story emerged. Of course, I also drew upon my own stories of growing up in Africa, and the stories of people I had met or knew. Novelists are in many ways, story collectors. They pick them up and then try and weave them into a new narrative.

Did you have to do much research?

I’ve been immersed in the subject of terrorism and political violence for more than 15 years, so I had a strong understanding of the subject to begin with. In my role as a lecturer and editor-in-chief of an academic journal on terrorism, I’ve read huge amounts of the academic research on terrorism. In that sense, I believe my novel is rooted in and accurately reflects the current state of terrorism research. I did however, deliberately seek out writings by former militants, as well as articles and interviews where ‘terrorists’ and militants explained their actions in their own words. I wanted to make sure I had the right language and perspective – the nuances of how they speak and think – of individuals who have chosen this path. Many of the words said by The Professor in the novel are actually paraphrased from what I’d heard or read directly from militants themselves.

Did your background in academic writing make the book easier to write?

No, it actually made it more difficult. Academic writing follows a very particular form, which in some ways, is antithetical to writing fiction. At the most basic level, as an academic you’re disciplined into writing in an abstract, authoritative, ‘objective’ manner, bereft of personality or human voice. You’re also taught to employ specialised jargon which fellow scholars in your own field can relate to. I had to leave all these ways of writing behind and try and find a more creative, human voice for the novel. In part, the choice to make the central character a former university professor was a way of trying to bridge these two ways of writing, the academic and the creative. I found it a really challenging and uncomfortable process. I still find the creative voice much harder than the academic voice.

Can you tell us a bit about the unique format of the text?  Why did you decide on that?

I chose to write the novel in the form of a secret, redacted transcript for a number of very specific reasons. The simplest reason was that I felt that this particular format allowed the maximum opportunity for the ‘terrorist’ to speak and explain himself. Allowing the ‘terrorist’ to fully explain himself at length – his motives, his beliefs, his story – was one of the primary aims of the novel. In the real world, we are hardly ever allowed to hear a ‘terrorist’ speak at length about themselves. I also chose this format because I felt that it would be a good vehicle for building tension, leaving clues and creating a series of narrative twists. I also wanted to explore whether it would be possible to construct a sense of character, and of physical and social space, through a very stark and bare transcript. Lastly, I wanted the novel to be rooted in the espionage/thriller genre, and the secret world of spies and security agencies. The transcript, modelled on real secret transcripts I’ve seen, aims to give a sense of the secret world which ‘terrorists’ and spies are seen to inhabit.

In terms of writing, were you inspired by any particular novelists?

My favourite novelist about the world of spies and espionage is John Le Carre. He has an eloquence and incisiveness that lifts him above the usual writers in that genre. I also think his novels about the war on terror and the way governments have cynically used the threat of terrorism to justify a multitude of crimes and wrongs have been searing indictments of Western foreign policy. He was clearly very angry with what was going on, and it came out in the series of brilliant deconstructions of the absurd and savage war on terror. While other novelists in this genre have embraced the logic of the war on terror unquestioningly, John Le Carre tore its inverted morality and counterproductive logic to shreds. I am also a fan of Yasmina Khadra, who writes about the conflicts in Algeria, Palestine and Iraq with an insight and authenticity that many Western authors simply haven’t captured.

You also mention on your blog about being frustrated/disappointed with other fictionalised depictions of terrorists.  Why is that? Are there any writers/movies etc who deal with the topic you would recommend?

I remain puzzled by the failure of novelists to depict ‘terrorists’ in an authentic manner, although it’s not surprising given the cultural taboo against terrorism today. In a sense, ‘terrorists’ are viewed in the same way that paedophiles are – as a kind of pure evil, inhuman and without any redeeming human qualities. This is the result of years of political speechmaking, movies, television shows, novels and the like depicting them mainly as cruel, inhuman fanatics. As a consequence, it now takes a very brave novelist to consider depicting them in any other way, and particularly in a sympathetic manner. The point is, even a most basic level of research would reveal that terrorists are not evil, inhuman, animal-like. I would have thought that some courageous novelists would have by now made a real effort to understand their subjects as real human beings – done some real research – and then narrated them in more authentic, more human terms. Sadly, because of this state of affairs, we still don’t have anything meaningful on ‘terrorists’ in literary terms. On the other hand, film has been much better at depicting ‘terrorists’ in meaningful and insightful ways. Paradise Now, for example, is a brilliant exploration of two Palestinian suicide bombers in the twenty four hours after they receive word that they have been selected for an operation. It draws out their humanity, their politics, their frailties, and never reduces them to stereotypes or caricatures.

Is the aim of your book to inform the readers?  To be thought provoking?

The main aim of the book is to entertain with a thoughtful tale which contains some twists and turns in the plot, and some human observations about two very real characters. At the same time, it is definitely aimed at trying to question and challenge popular understandings of terrorism and counterterrorism. In a sense, I wrote it as a way of communicating through a literary rather than academic form all the knowledge I have gained about terrorism over the years – to a wider audience beyond the university. In my view, most of what the media and society thinks they know about terrorism is incorrect, and not supported by the academic research. The novel, therefore, functions in part as a vehicle for communicating something of what we know academically about terrorism and ‘terrorists’.

Lee Child is incredibly popular author at our library (and everywhere!).  His work falls into the military / action genre that’s growing in popularity.  Did you want to write something to rival these blockbusters?  Or were trying to provide a more thoughtful spin on this genre?

I definitely wanted to write a novel that was broadly in the action/espionage/thriller genre, while at the same time being thoughtful and challenging to the normal format and content of that genre. My initial thought was that I wanted to write something that would appeal to my 18 year old (mostly) male students, so it had to have some action, some twists and a sense of danger. At the same time, I really don’t expect that my novel will rival authors such as Lee Childs, mainly because the novel is intensely political, and very challenging to our dominant cultural understandings. The overall argument it makes is that Western states need to examine their own actions in order to see how and why they provoke people to try and attack them. This is not an easy subject matter; in fact, it is very sensitive. I therefore expect it won’t be that popular in many quarters. A great many politicians will dislike its message, as will some of my fellow terrorism scholars. Certainly, unlike most books in the current action genre, it doesn’t promote the heart-warming message that the strong Western hero always defeats the foreign and traitorous enemies who seek to attack us. From this perspective, my novel is more than a little counter-cultural. I hope it will appeal to people who really want to know what goes through the mind of a terrorist, and who are tired of the war on terror and all the torture, mass surveillance, wars and invasive security measures – and who enjoy a good thriller!

Kerry’s Fiction Picks (a quick one)

Syndetics book coverVeronica Mars : the first book in an original mystery series.
The cult classic TV show Veronica Mars, soon-to-be a movie, soon-to-be returning to TV apparently, is also soon-to-be a book!
Due in March I can tell you nothing about it, such top secret stuff, and that’s not even the real cover.  I just thought I’d give the fans a heads up that it’ll be on its way to us as soon as its published (but you probably knew all that already!)

Top Ten Fiction eBooks for 2013

It’s that time of year again, that is the end of the year, where people start compiling their ‘best ofs’ and ‘top tens’ for 2013.  We thought you might be interested in the library’s top ten fiction eBooks.  These are the most borrowed from our Overdrive eLibrary.
There’s some big names (Nora Roberts, Jodi Picoult, J K Rowling) and some popular movie adaptions too (‘Life of Pi’, ‘The Help’, ‘Catching Fire’).   Heading the list is blockbuster Lee Child with ‘Without Fail’.  Here they all are!

Overdrive cover
Overdrive cover
1. Without Fail by Lee Child

2. Brazen virtue by Nora Roberts

3. The Duchess of Love by Sally MacKenzie

4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

5. The Help by Katherine Stockett

6. Sing You Home  by Jodi Picoult

7. Ravished by Amanda Quick

8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

9. Addition by Toni Jordan

10. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Graphic Novels – Linda’s picks

Linda is the library’s Fiction Customer Specialist.  She’s a big fiction reader and knows the collection really well – including graphic novels. 

Linda is a huge fan of graphic novels, especially Guy Delisle. Below she shares with us ten of her favourites.

Syndetics book coverAlbert and the others / Guy Delisle.
“Limbs are swapped and pants are dropped in Albert and the Others, a collection of wordless strips that expose the pleasures, pitfalls, and perversities of masculinity. In this companion volume to Aline and the Others (2006), Guy Delisle delves deep into the male psyche and emerges with twenty-six alphabetically arranged strips, named after the men who tumble through the pages. These elastic protagonists risk damnation and dismemberment in a series of improbable slapstick relationships with women, which veer from the titillating to the downright macabre.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe squirrel mother stories / Megan Kelso.
“This acclaimed collection of graphic short stories includes personal and semi-autobiographical stories that draw heavily on the details of Kelso’s youth along with stories about the idea of America and American history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFluffy / Simone Lea.
“Lia weaves obsession, the bad faith of French existentialist note, and the rigors childhood visits upon the very young and the adults charged with their care into a delightful and insightful tale. Londoner Michael, adoptive father of Fluffy the bunny, takes Fluffy’s nursery school teacher to bed and then realizes she’s a bit of a stalker. Meanwhile, Michael’s parents and sister, living in Sicily, are dealing with each others’ obsessions, which include Christianity. For his part, Fluffy is obsessed, in the way only a small child can be, with tractors and farmers and doesn’t understand the ramifications of, and lack of ramifying factors in, Michael’s love life. Lia is an excellent storyteller, and her black-and-white cartoons expose not only the personalities of her characters but, literally, the inner workings of Michael’s mind. Elegantly simple but not simplistic, Fluffy’s world expands and contracts as we follow his and Michael’s progress, regressions, and small but realistic emotional victories. Tailor-made to introduce those willing to try that familiar (to them) format, the graphic novel” –Goldsmith, Francisca (Booklist) Used with permission

Syndetics book coverShutterbug follies.
“A plucky and insatiably curious young woman, Bee works for a photofinishing technician at a one-hour lab in lower Manhattan. When pictures of a naked corpse are left for processing, Bee’s curiosity goes into high gear. “Shutterbug Follies” is a comic murder mystery filled with unlikely coincidences, humorous misunderstandings, and hairbreadth escapes.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverStargazing dog / Takashi Murakami ; translated by Atsuko Saisho & Spencer Fancutt.
“Reading this graphic novel is the emotional equivalent to listening to NPR’s StoryCorps moving, beautiful, and ultimately heart-wrenching. Murakami’s lovingly drawn, award-winning manga tells the story of a simple man’s life from the point of view of his devoted dog, Happie. Due to a combination of factors, circumstances change quickly for Happie’s nameless owner, Daddy, who was once a regular Joe with an office job and a family. Happie sticks by him through thick and thin, and, true to his name, Happie remains blissfully unaware of Daddy’s increasingly desperate living situation. As Daddy’s luck and health continue to fail, Happie becomes Daddy’s only friend and final joy. This touching story shows the cruelty of a modern society that allows those down on their luck to fall through the cracks.” –Mack, Candice. Used with permission. (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverWorst song, played on ugliest guitar / Chris Onstad.
“Riding high on the success of The Great Outdoor Fight, Achewood and Dark Horse Comics have compiled an extensively annotated collection of the first few years’ worth of Achewood comics. This is no mere companion volume to the cult-classic online strip: the entire prehistory of Achewood is set forth for the first time, and all of the celebrated alt-texts are included. Additionally, author Chris Onstad has literally littered the book with observations and rudities. TIME magazine named back-to-back Ignatz Award-winner Achewood its 2007 Graphic Novel of the Year, and legions of devoted fans consistently report that it makes them feel the way Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes did when they were young.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHuntington, West Virginia “on the fly” / Harvey Pekar ; art by Summer McClinton.
“Huntington, West Virginia “On the Fly” is prime Pekar, recounting the irascible everyman’s on-the-road encounters with a cross section of characters—a career criminal turned limo-driving entrepreneur, a toy merchant obsessed with restoring a vintage diner, comic-book archivists, indie filmmakers, and children of the sixties—all of whom have stories to tell. By turns funny, poignant, and insightful, these portraits é la Pekar showcase a one-of-a-kind master at work, channeling the stuff of average life into genuine American art.” (Amazon)

Syndetics book coverEmpire State : a love story (or not) / Jason Shiga.
“Shiga’s bold visual storytelling, sly pokes at popular culture, and subtle text work together seamlessly in “Empire State,” creating a quirky, graphic novel comedy about the vagaries of love and friendship.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Walking Man / Jiro Taniguchi.
“Whoever takes the time these days to climb a tree in bare feet? To stop and observe the comings and goings of the birds? To play in the puddles after the rain has gone? To return a shell to the sea? The Walking Man follows a modern day Japanese business man as he strolls at random through urban Japan – often silent, usually alone – with his vivid dreams that let time stand still. Every corporate American should have a copy on their desk and, in times of stress, take two chapters, twice a day. Take a little stress out of your life and relax with The Walking Man, a little step every day. Lovingly reversed in collaboration with the creator to read left to right.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPride of Baghdad / inspired by a true story ; written by Brian K. Vaughan; art by Niko Henrichon.
“During an American bombing raid in 2003, four lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo. That true story is the basis for this excellent fable by Vaughan (Ex Machina; Runaways) and Henrichon in which the animals can talk to one another and discuss the relative merits of captivity and life in the wild. After they’re unexpectedly freed, Zill, the alpha male; his one-eyed ex-lover, Safa; his current lover, Noor; and Noor’s cub, Ali, must fend for themselves in an unfamiliar land: the ruined city. They discover dangers both man-made and-despite Noor’s insistence that animals can rise above their baser natures-among their own kind. This graphic novel works as an adventure story; a meditation on the pursuit, the problems, and the meaning of freedom; and a thoughtful allegory about the war in Iraq, with every scene having a deeper subtext.” (Library Journal)

Graphic novels curated collection – Staff Picks – Monty’s picks

We love graphic novels, and this week we’re highlighting some of our picks from the Libraries’ collection. (If you’d like to see the full list of our picks, you can view this here — Staff Curated Collection.)

Monty is the graphic novel buyer for the library and knows the collection inside and out (he has a seriously encyclopaedic knowledge of the graphic novels!), so we thought we’d highlight his selections below. Have a read and enjoy!

Syndetics book coverMid-life : a comic book / by Joe Ollmann.
“You don’t have to be a twice-married 40-year-old man with a baby son, two grown daughters, and three old cats to enjoy this, but if you are, Ollmann’s no-holds-barred grapple with man’s propensity for self-aggrandizement, self-deception, and self-loathing may have uncanny resonance. In this fictionalized memoir, Canadian art director John Olsen is suffering from middle-age parent syndrome and screwing up at work and at home. He develops a crush on a children’s performer and takes a business trip to New York, where he may or may not cheat on his wife. This modest arc comprises an utterly compelling drama. The push and pull between John’s internal narrative and outward actions is exquisitely painful, especially for those of us (and that would be all of us) who think one thing and do another. John wants to be a better person, but he’s in danger of being defeated by his own gift for rationalization. The black-and-white, nine-panel-grid artwork shows influences from R. Crumb to Daniel Clowes (think sweat) but is definitely Ollmann’s own, and his warts-and-all character renderings are a perfect complement to this warts-and-all tale. Blemishes included, this is memoir at its best because the specifics are universal, not mere oversharing” (Graf Kei, Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFeynman / written by Jim Ottaviani ; art by Leland Myrick.
“Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Myrick, “Feynman” tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the “Challenger” disaster.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLike a sniper lining up his shot / adapted by Jacques Tardi ; from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette ; [edited and translated by Kim Thompson].
“The Tardi/Manchette team of West Coast Blues reunites for another brutal neo-noir classic.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe influencing machine : Brooke Gladstone on the media / illustrated by Josh Neufeld ; with additional penciling by Randy Jones and Susann Ferris-Jones.
“Gladstone pens a visionary and opinionated work of graphic nonfiction on the media and its discontents.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNemesis / writer & co-creator, Mark Millar ; artist & co-creator, Steve McNiven.
“What if the smartest, toughest costumed bad ass in the world was totally evil? Meet Nemesis. He’s systematically been destroying the lives of every police chief in Asia, and he’s now set his sights on Washington, D.C. This volume collects “Millar & McNiven’s Nemesis” #1-4.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOnward towards our noble deaths / Shigeru Mizuki ; translation by Jocelyne Allen.
“”[A] semi-autobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of World War Two. The soldiers are instructed that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive.” –From publisher’s web site.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe plane story / written and illustrated by Kevin Sacco.
“A modern-day Bildungsroman, The Plane Story follows young artist Kevin Sacco as he inches his way into the New York commercial art scene of the 1970s. Along the way, we are introduced to his Communist-turned-ad exec father, a mother he never knew he had, a cigarette-smoking guardian angel, and a bevy of characters that all influence his fate. The Plane Story tells the universal story of a young man with a dream as he encounters the world’s complicated realities.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLife with Mr. Dangerous : a cartoon / by Paul Hornschemeier.
“Somewhere in the Midwest, Amy Breis is going nowhere. Amy has a job she hates, a creep boyfriend she’s just dumped, and a best friend she can’t reach on the phone. But at least her (often painfully passive-aggressive) mother bought her a pink unicorn sweatshirt for her birthday. Pink. Unicorn. For her twenty-seventh birthday. Gliding through the daydreams and realities of a young woman searching for definition, “Life with Mr. Dangerous” showcases acclaimed cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier’s gift for deadpan humor and dead-on insight with a droll aftertaste–an unlikely but welcome marriage of the bleak and the hopeful.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDear creature / Jonathan Case.
“Much has been learned from 1960s beach horror movies: that secluded seaside rendezvous often end deadly, that one sea monster spotting terrorizes a community and ruins an otherwise freewheeling summer, and how to do the twist. But what is known of the notorious sea creature? In this debut, Case, a member of the Periscope Studio comics cooperative, dives into this question and introduces Grue, a well-read, romantic, and idealistic sea mutant whose burgeoning love affair is quelling his appetite for humans. Bottles containing a series of Shakespeare writings find Grue and inspire him to speak in iambic pentameter and find romance with the bottles’ source. Discovering the charming Giulietta, the agoraphobic human bibliophile bottle-tosser, isn’t as big of a problem for Grue as learning that Guilietta’s nephew is taking the fall for Grue’s beach snacks. Verdict Case’s debut is beautifully composed using clean, fluid, high-contrast black-and-white line art that gives this original story a classic feel. This clever and humorous narrative demonstrates stunning visual storytelling. Highly recommended.-Willow Fitzgibbon, Fayetteville P.L., AR (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverGreen River killer : a true detective story / writer Jeff Jensen ; artist Jonathan Case.
Presents the ultimate insider’s account of America’s most prolific serial killer – the Green River Killer, the man responsible for the murders of dozens of women.

Graphic novels – Top Ten

This week’s graphic novels curator Shane Roberts certainly knows a lot about the genre.  Having spent many years reading, enjoying and selling graphic novels, he’s well-qualified to make recommendations. 

Below are his Top Ten choices for the Last Ten Years.

Syndetics book coverThe walking dead series / Robert Kirkman, creator, writer, letterer ; Tony Moore, penciler, inker.
“An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled: there is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. Rick Grimes finds himself one of the few survivors in this terrifying future. A couple months ago he was a small town cop who had never fired a shot and only ever saw one dead body. Separated from his family, he must now sort through all the death and confusion to try and find his wife and son. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill ; Ben Dimagmaliw, Bill Oakley [art].
“Take a group of extraordinary literary figures like Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, the Invisible Man and Mina Harker and put them together to save England from its enemies.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPlanetary series / writer, Warren Ellis ; [artists, Phil Jiminez et al.]
“A universe of unexplained phenomena and deep mysteries, Planetary has formed to uncover and piece together the hidden wonders of the world. A team of mystery archaeologists, Elijah Snow, the temperature-controlling founder, Jakita Wagner, the invulnerable field leader, and The Drummer, a machine-manipulating eccentric, attempt to acquire and understand powerful artifacts before they fall into the wrong hands. Featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Authority, this captivating volume follows the trio of adventurers as they stalk an amoral killer, prevent the collision of two universes, and defend against an invasion from beyond space.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverY : the last man series / Brian K. Vaughan, writer ; Pia Guerra, penciller ; Jose Marzan Jr., inker.
“When a plague of unknown origin instantly kills every mammal with a Y chromosome, unemployed and unmotivated slacker Yorick Brown suddenly discovers that he is the only male left in a world inhabited solely by women. Accompanied by his mischievous monkey and the mysterious Agent 355, Yorick embarks on a transcontinental journey to find his girlfriend and discover why he is the last man on Earth. But with a gang of feminist extremists and the leader of the Israeli Defense Forces hunting him, Yorick’s future, as well as that of the human race, may be short-lived.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDaytripper / by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba.
“Every chapter of “Daytripper” features an important period in Bras de Olivias Dominguez’s life in exotic Brazil, and each ends with his death. Bras dies at different moments in his life, as the story follows him through his entire existence – one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness in a story about living life to its fullest, because any of us can die at any moment.” (Amazon)

Syndetics book coverRichard Stark’s Parker series / by Darwyn Cooke ; edited by Scott Dunbier.
“The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind — to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDaredevil : the Murdock papers / writer, Brian Michael Bendis ; artist, Alex Maleev.
“The Eisner Award-winning run of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev comes to a blistering conclusion! First, they outed Daredevil in the press; then they married him and made him the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. What could they possibly do to top that? Four words: WILSON FISK IS BACK! Collects Daredevil #76-81.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAstonishing X-Men series by Joss Whedon ; artist, John Cassaday.
“They’re back! The chart-topping super-team of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday return for more Astonshing X-Men! If you thought their past efforts were full of shocks and surprises, hold onto your eyeballs – because you haven’t seen anything yet, as things go from peculiar to just plain bizarre!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScalped series / Jason Aaron, writer ; R.M. Guera, artist.
“Jason Aaron, the up-and-coming writer of the critically acclaimed series The Other Side teams with gritty artist R.M. Guera for an intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture. Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in hopes of finding something better. Now he’s come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSleeper : all false moves / writer, Ed Brubaker ; artist, Sean Phillips.
“Through acts of violence and murder against his friends and his country, Holden Carver has infiltrated the world’s most dangerous super-powered criminal organization. But with the one man who is aware of Carver’s true assignment and allegiance in a coma, the undercover operative finds himself trapped with no one he can trust. Now after being captured by his own government, Carver must find a way to prove the existence and validity of his mission or before he is forced to answer for his treasonous crime.” (Syndetics summary)

Graphic Novels Curated Collection – Shane Roberts

You may have seen Shane around and about Wellington – if you’re a graphic novel reader then you most definitely have!   Shane has been a dedicated Comic Book reader and collector for 35 years.  He’s been lucky enough to have been enjoying them as a career by managing  ‘Graphic: Comics & Toys’ in Wellington for the last 18.

He’s this week’s graphic novels display curator.  This is the full list of his choices; below are his Top 10 of All Time.

Syndetics book coverFrank Miller’s Sin City
“Sin City is a place as tough as leather and dry as tinder. Love is the fuel, and the now-infamous character Marv has the match–not to mention a “condition.” He’s gunning after Goldie’s killer, so it’s time to watch this town burn!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWatchmen / Alan Moore, writer ; Dave Gibbons, illustrator/letterer.
“Celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Watchmen” with this oversized hardcover collection, packaged inside a beautifully designed slipcase. Each page of art has been restored and re-colored by WildStorm FX, and 48 pages of supplemental material offer a cornucopia of rare and historically valuable treasures, including samples of Moore’s “Watchmen” scripts, the original proposal, conceptual art, cover roughs, and much more.DC Comics” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBatman : year one / Frank Miller, writer ; David Mazzucchelli, illustrator.
“The story of how Batman’s career started, told in graphic novel form.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover100 bullets series / Brian Azzarello, writer ; Eduardo Risso, artist.
“What would you do if you were given the opportunity and the means to get away with murder, scot-free? Thats the question posed in 100 Bullets, a new graphic novel that combines elements of hard-boiled crime stories and paranoid espionage thrillers. The mysterious Agent Graves offers his clients a gun and immunity from prosecution, enabling them to get revenge against those who ruined their lives. Suggested for mature readers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverV for vendetta / Alan Moore, David Lloyd.
“In an alternate future in which Germany wins World War II and Britain becomesa fascist state, a vigilante named “V” stalks the streets of London trying tofree England of its ideological chains.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPreacher series / Garth Ennis, writer ; Steve Dillon, artist.
“Preacher Jesse Custer begins his dark journey to find God.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBatman : the dark knight returns / Frank Miller, with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley.
“After 10 years away from the public eye, a wave of violence in Gotham City brings Batman back as a vigilante.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLone wolf and cub series / story, Kazuo Koike ; art, Goseki Kojima.
“Few works can legitimately lay claim to the mantle “landmark”. Dark Horse Comics is proud to present one of the authentic landmarks in graphic fiction, Lone Wolf and Cub. Acknowledged worldwide for the brilliant writing of series creator Kazuo Koike and the groundbreaking cinematic visuals of the late Goseki Kojima, Lone Wolf and Cub contains unforgettable imagery of stark beauty, kinetic fury, and visceral thematic power that influenced a generation of visual storytellers both in Japan and in the West.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBatman : the killing joke / Alan Moore, writer.
“One of the most controversial tales from Batman’s career. When the Joker commits an unspeakable crime, Batman must use all his skill to outwit the crazed criminal. But in the end, how different are the Dark Knight and his quarry? Legendary writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland present this all-time classic story” (drawn from Amazon)

Syndetics book coverDaredevil / by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson.
“A Marvel Comics mainstay since 1964, Daredevil got a new lease on life in a landmark 1979-1983 run by writer-penciler Frank Miller and inker-penciler Klaus Janson, whose daring reinvention of the character quickly made Miller one of the biggest and most influential stars in the comic-book industry. Miller put his own stamp on established cast members such as reporter Ben Urich, femme fatale Black Widow, mad assassin Bullseye, the saw-fisted Gladiator, and monstrous crime boss Kingpin. Miller also introduced Daredevil’s mysterious mentor Stick, deadly ninja foes the Hand, and Matt’s long-lost love Elektra, a beautiful assassin who would become one of Marvel’s most memorable characters” (drawn from Amazon)

Graphic novels Curated Collection – Ant Sang

Syndetics book coverAnt has worked hard to become a recognised graphic artist in New Zealand.  He garnered a cult following for his dharma punk series, which he created and published in the 90s.  More recently he collaborated with Elizabeth Mitchell on the creation of bro’Town.  His latest comic, Shaolin Burning, was nominated for the New Zealand Post Book Awards.  Ant has chosen this week’s Graphic Novel Curated Collection.  Here’s the full list of his picks and you can check out his Top 5 favourites below.

Ant Sang’s Top 5

Syndetics book coverI never liked you : a comic-strip narrative / Chester Brown.
“In one of the best graphic novels published in recent years, Chester Brown tells the story of his alienated youth in an almost detached, understated manner, giving the book an eerie, dream-like quality. For the new 2002 definitive softcover edition Brown has designed new layouts for the entire book, using “white” panel backgrounds instead of the black pages of the first edition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhost world / Daniel Clowes.
“Back for an amazing ninth printing, this is our bestselling book ever, a Catcher in the Rye for its generation and the basis for the Academy Award-nominated film. It tells the story of Enid and Rebecca, two above-it-all best friends confronted with the prospect of adulthood and the uncertain future of their friendship.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlankets : a graphic novel / by Craig Thompson.
“At 592 pages, Blankets may well be the single largest graphic novel ever published without being serialized first. Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith. A profound and utterly beautiful work from Craig Thompson.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPalestine / Joe Sacco.
“Based on years of research and extended visits to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s, “Palestine” is the first major comics work of political nonfiction by Sacco.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe complete Maus / Art Spiegelman.
“Now in paperback, “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal). “The power of Spiegelman’s story lies in the fine detail of the story and the fact that it is related in comic-strip form”.–San Francisco Examiner. New York Times 1991 “Editor’s Choice”.” (Syndetics summary)

Here’s Ant Sang’s complete Graphic Novel Curated Collection.

Graphic novel reviews – Grant Buist

Grant Buist – this week’s ‘graphic novel curated collection’ curator – has kindly reviewed some more of his favourite graphic novels for us.   Check out the complete list of Grant’s ‘collection’ here.

Syndetics book coverMail order bride : a graphic novel / Mark Kalesniko.
An extraordinarily well-written and paced story about a Korean mail-order bride who moves to Canada to marry the owner of a comic book store and ends up blossoming in the artistic environment of a nearby bohemian neighbourhood. Her terminally outclassed husband violently resents her liberation, and there’s some very ugly human truths about repression, conformity and racial objectification contained in the elegant brushwork and dense panels.

Syndetics book coverSandcastle / [writer], Pierre Oscar Levy ; [artist], Frederik Peeters.
Disturbing and brilliant. Two family groups arrive at an isolated cove for a pleasant day at the beach, watched from afar by an Algerian jeweller. They discover a dead body – a girl the Algerian saw diving into the water a few hours earlier.
Before the story can develop into a murder mystery, the families make the unsettling discovery that the children are undergoing a growth spurt, entering puberty as they watch. Every number they call on their cellphones has been long disconnected, and in the best tradition of nightmares, some invisible force is preventing them from leaving the beach to seek help. Then the older members start dying of extreme age. The child-teenagers sneak off for some ill-fated sexual experimentation. As the sun descends, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, everyone succumbs to the accelerated ravages of time. There’s no explanation and no relief – on the whole, this has been the worst day at the beach ever.

Syndetics book coverThe squirrel machine / Hans Rickheit.
Blimey, this is a weird one. Imagine a steampunk version of the last ten minutes of Eraserhead. Rickheit presents the tale of a conflicted pair of genius brothers in 19th century New England who manufacture unpleasant musical instruments from animal carcasses while holed up in their baffling mansion.
Its design and tone is indebted to Little Nemo in Slumberland, although far more disturbing. There’s a particularly striking ten-page sequence where one of the brothers wakes outside after sleepwalking, follows the faint sound of music down a well, and discovers a labyrinth of abandoned rooms, riddled with pickled foetuses, dead animals, pneumatic tubes, random objects hung from ceilings or draped across beams, and ominous machinery. And there’s a hatch that leads straight back to his bedroom.
The book is full of strange scenes that accurately convey the claustrophobic atmosphere and slight off-ness of a powerful dream. In no way is it fluffy around the edges. The detail is unflinching, with a refreshing lack of explanation – one panel depicts a massive pile of discarded eggbeaters, another a bizarre sex toy, part music box and part mannequin. Is it all a dream? Who can tell?

Grant’s complete graphic novel choices HERE.

Graphic novels Curated Collection – Grant Buist

Soon to be displayed in the fiction area for our Fiction Focus month of June are the carefully edited graphic novel selections of Grant Buist.  They kick off next week’s graphic novel curated collection.  A ‘curated collection’ is one where a person (fan/expert) has chosen their favourite books (or in this case, graphic novels) to form a mini collection.  You may know Grant as the creator of the Jitterati comic strip which appears weekly in the Capital Times.  He’s also an accomplished graphic artist, soon-to-be artist in residence at the Museum of City and Sea, an avid graphic novel reader and library fan.

 Here are his top ten favourite graphic novels –

Syndetics book coverHark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton, Drawn & Quarterly, 2011
“”Hark! A Vagrant” takes readers on a romp through history and literature — with dignity for few and cookies for all.” (Description from Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverWidgey Q. Butterfluff by Steph Cherrywell, SLG Publishing, 2010
“Widgey Q. Butterfluff is an upstanding resident of Snugglepump Valley, a magical land where it’s perpetually Saturday morning, TV cartoon-style. Hence, Widgey is sweet and cute and nauseatingly cheerful. She and her friends defend Snugglepump Valley from the archvillain Lord Meanskull and his hench-witches. With personality and pluck they avert such clichéd kiddy-cartoon catastrophes as pollution, puberty, and nonspecific drug addiction while also tackling more obscure problems, such as high-school flashbacks, dinosaur Santa, and emo-teens. As a send-up of the sanitized, feel-good cartoons kids are subjected to these days, Widgey is spot-on.” (Description drawn from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverCapacity by Theo Ellsworth, Secret Acres, 2010
“Exactly the kind of book you discover in a dream – perhaps a whole library full – and long for so badly when they vanish upon waking. Only this one still exists in the conscious world. An indispensable visionary handbook with crossover instructions for navigating the dreams we dream in our sleep and the dream that’s dreaming us.” (Craig Thompson — author of Blankets)

Syndetics book coverThe Wrong Place by Brecht Evens, Drawn & Quarterly, 2010
“In his first English-language graphic novel, Belgian artist and musician Evens presents readers with a lushly illustrated, heartbreaking portrait of two twenty somethings living in a nameless city.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverDuncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines, Adhouse Books, 2010
“What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different? Come explore this dense tome of an alternate universe where the lavish renderings recall Dave McKean.” (Syndetics review)

Syndetics book coverThe Cardboard Valise by Ben Katchor, Pantheon, 2011
“In this winsomely haunting graphic novel from Katchor — whose weekly strips have been collected into The Jew of New York and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, among others — an overstuffed suitcase becomes a ripe, comic metaphor for modern life. Set in a world tilted about 45 degrees away from reality, Katchor’s story follows a number of characters through their quirky obsessions, each of which highlights a uniquely curious take on modernity.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverI Will Bite You! and Other Stories by Joseph Lambert, Secret Acres, 2011
“This volume collects many of the self-published mini-comics of a lauded newcomer and includes some new material as well. The comics here are sophisticated, unusual narratives about animal musicians, mischievous children, cavemen and heavenly bodies.” (Amazon)

Syndetics book coverAsterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli, Pantheon Books, 2009
“Asterios Polyp, its arrogant, prickly protagonist, is an award-winning architect who’s never built an actual building, and a pedant in the midst of a spiritual crisis. After the structure of his own life falls apart, he runs away to try to rebuild it into something new.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSet to Sea by Drew Weing, Fantagraphics, 2010
“After a career turning out much-admired Web comics and small self-published work, Weing produces a classic tale of the sea and self-discovery in his graphic novel debut. The unnamed hero is a poet who writes overblown verse about the wonders of sea life, while trying to pay his bar bill with promises of book dedications. That attitude quickly changes when he’s shanghaied aboard a clipper bound for Hong Kong. At first a lumbering victim, the poet is pushed to the limit in a battle with pirates and discovers the strength and courage he never knew through violence.” (Syndetics review)

Syndetics book coverPinocchio by Winshluss, Last Gasp, 2011
“In this dark rendition of a classic tale, a greedy Geppetto builds Pinocchio as a metallic weapon of war, while Jiminy Cockroach is a homeless squatter living the good life in Pinocchio’s skull.” (Publisher’s description)

Find Grant’s choices on display in the fiction area, on the ground floor of the Central library, beginning June 5th.  (Feel free to take any of them out too!)

Deborah and Kerry’s fiction picks

This week’s choices are both due in early 2012 (February and March respectively) and are written by young, female American writers.  Snow Child is the debut novel of Alaskan Eowyn Ivey whilst Arcadia is Lauren Groff’s third publication – we have her other books here and here.  Both these books have been well received and glowingly reviewed!

Syndetics book coverSnow child : a novel.
“Here’s a modern retelling of the Russian fairy tale about a girl, made from snow by a childless couple, who comes to life. Or perhaps not modern-the setting is 1920s Alaska-but that only proves the timelessness of the tale and of this lovely book. Unable to start a family, middle-aged Jack and Mabel have come to the wilderness to start over, leaving behind an easier life back east. Anxious that they won’t outlast one wretched winter, they distract themselves by building a snow girl and wrap her in a scarf. The snow girl and the scarf are gone the next morning, but Jack spies a real child in the woods. Soon Jack and Mabel have developed a tentative relationship with the free-spirited Faina, as she finally admits to being called. Is she indeed a “snow fairy,” a “wilderness pixie” magicked out of the cold? Or a wild child who knows better than anyone how to survive in the rugged north? Even as Faina embodies a natural order that cannot be tamed, the neighborly George and Esther show Jack and Mabel (and the rest of us) how important community is for survival. VERDICT A fluid, absorbing, beautifully executed debut novel; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 9/21/11.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverArcadia.
“Groff’s dark, lyrical examination of life on a commune follows Bit, aka Little Bit, aka Ridley Sorrel Stone, born in the late ’60s in a spot that will become Arcadia, a utopian community his parents help to form. Despite their idealistic goals, the family’s attempts at sustainability bring hunger, cold, illness, and injury. Bit’s vibrant mother retreats into herself each winter; caring for the community literally breaks his father’s back. The small, sensitive child whose purposeful lack of speech is sometimes mistaken for slowness finds comfort in Grimms’ fairy tales and is lost in the outside world once Arcadia’s increasingly entitled spiritual leader falls from grace and the community crumbles. Split between utopia and its aftermath, the book’s second half tracks the ways in which Bit, now an adult (he’s 50 when this all ends, in 2018), has been shaped by Arcadia; a career in photography was the perfect choice for a man who “watches life from a good distance.” Bit’s painful experiences as a husband, father, and son grow more harrowing as humanity becomes increasingly imperiled. The effective juxtaposition of past and future and Groff’s (Delicate Edible Birds) beautiful prose make this an unforgettable read. Agent: William Morris Endeavor. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Detroit Disassembled – new photography book to check out!

Syndetics book coverDetroit disassembled. Urban decay and the ruination of city life  is emerging as a popular theme in photography at the moment, and this can be seen in the documentation of the deterioration of  US city of Detroit.   Detroit was once a wealthy, industrialised ‘motor city’, but is now economically and socially depressed and its many abandoned buildings are providing a rich and expansive subject matter for this topic.  Check out Kevin Bauman’s ‘100 Abandoned Houses’ project for example.  (The topic was also quite famously mined by Michael Moore in his documentary about the US auto industry ‘Roger and Me’.)  There have been plenty of new photography books published on its disintegration and the library has just acquired ‘Detroit Disassembled’.  The book showcases the work of US photographer Andrew Moore and it  has to be seen to be believed – check out some of the pages on Amazon here (you can also see lots of Moore’s work on his website here).

Very interesting, attractive and detailed images- I recommend.

Alice Neel – art books to check out!

Alice Neel is an American painter who produced works in the mid-part of the twentieth century.   A feminist before her time, Neel’s lifestyle, and even her art, was sometimes considered controversial.  She is now thought of as one of the best American artists of last century, even though her work is not as well known as contemporaries Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko.   Her style is figurative, linear and emotional and I think it’s similar to Elizabeth Peyton or John Curran.  The library has two new books about her that are worth checking out if you enjoy modern, American art and discovering new artists.

Syndetics book coverAlice Neel : painted truths / Jeremy Lewison … [et al.].
This book was published to coincide with an international exhibition of Alice Neel’s work held last year.  It’s a comprehensive collection of her art, spanning seven decades, with wonderful colour plates of both her paintings and drawings.   The essays examine her stylistic development and complex pyschological themes.

Syndetics book coverAlice Neel : the art of not sitting pretty / Phoebe Hoban.
Well known writer Phoebe Hoban covers Neel’s personal life and artistic career in this biography.  Neel had a tough life – living in 1920s Cuba, struggling with the death of her child, suffering a nervous breakdown – but continued to create contemporary works of art amidst all the drama.  Her paintings were highly personal and she often used her experiences as subjects, or subtexts, for her paintings.  The book places Neel in the social context of her time and considers her place as an artist who worked outside the accepted New York art world and as an important figure in the feminist art movement.  It is an interesting read about a talented artist with a tumultuous life and career.

Sewing books to check out!

Some great new sewing books have arrived recently and I thought I’d share my picks with you.  Now these are for women’s clothing, just to let you know, but I’ll do a post on children’s clothes later!

First up there’s a couple of books by Built By Wendy designer Wendy Mullins.  Built by Wendy is a New York based clothing line designed by Mullins.  She’s turned her hand to writing how-to books for sewers and we hold three in this series.
Syndetics book coverBuilt by Wendy dresses : the Sew U guide to making a girl’s best frock / Wendy Mullin, with Eviana Hartman ; illustrations by Beci Orpin ; additional illustrations by Dana Vaccarelli.
I think this book is fantastic!  I can sew, but not well, and I found it easy to follow and understand.  All patterns are provided and the instructions and variations are clearly explained.  Its written in a chatty, informal way which helps too.  Mullins also makes sure that any problems you may encounter are covered, which is extremely useful.
Syndetics book coverSew U : the Built by Wendy guide to making your own wardrobe / Wendy Mullin with Eviana Hartman ; illustrations by Beci Orpin ; additional illustrations by Agnieszka Gasparka.
This is an earlier book in the series and it covers skirts, shirts and pants.  It has basic patterns for each, simple instructions and how to alter each for different sizes and other variations.  Similarly, its full of helpful tips and tricks.  The third book Built By Wendy: Coats and Jackets is on order at the moment – reserve it now!
Syndetics book coverLittle green dresses : 50 original patterns for repurposed dresses, tops, skirts, and more / Tina Sparkles ; photography by Erica Beckman.
This book is good for fans of secondhand shopping and those who want to be more eco-conscious with their fashion choices.  It covers mainly patterndrafting and how to alter secondhand purchases.  It also looks at finding good uses for vintage fabrics, buttons and other bits and pieces you may accumulate along the way.  Definitely worth a look!
In a similar vein is ReSew (also a new order – reserve here) which looks at repurposing secondhand finds.
Syndetics book coverTwinkle sews : 25 handmade fashions from the runway to your wardrobe / Wenlan Chia.
Any knitting fan will know about Wenlan Chia and her innovative designs.  Chia is also a designer, overseeing an entire Twinkle range.  What I like about this book are the great designs – these are not basics, these are clothes I’d actually like to wear!  This book’s not for beginners though, you’ll have to know what you’re doing.  But the instructions are clearly written and easy to understand.  Unfortunately, assembling the patterns can be problematic, but it’s worth persevering.

Masterchef cookbooks to check out!

Who hasn’t been watching some version of Masterchef over the last year?!  I just wanted to let the fans know about some of the Masterchef cookbooks we have in our collection.

Syndetics book coverMexican food made simple / Thomasina Miers ; photography by Tara Fisher.
Masterchef actually began on British TV  in the nineties and many contestants have gone on to work in the food industry.  One former winner is Thomasina Miers, who became a chef, opened a restaurant and wrote this cookbook – and if you like Mexican food you’ll really enjoy this book!  While you may have to hunt about to find some of the ingredients, the wonderful recipes and flavours make it worth the effort.  It also explains all the ins and outs of Mexican food and cooking so you’ll learn how to put an authentic Mexican meal together.

Syndetics book coverComfort food / [Greg Mehigan] ; food photography by Dean Cambray.
My favourite Masterchef TV show is the Australian version.  This book is from one of their judges, Gary Mehigan – one of Australia’s top chefs and restaurateurs.  In this book he covers all his favourite home-cooking recipes, but with fancy, chefy twists.  There’s wonderful photography too!
We also have the first Australian Masterchef winner Julie Goodwin’s book.  (Adam, the second series winner, is expected to publish a book in May – I’m keeping my eye out for it).

Syndetics book coverMasterChef New Zealand : the cookbook : volume one / FremantleMedia.
And of course, we have the book from the New Zealand Masterchef which screened last year.  All the contestants, and the judges, have contributed recipes and so far this book’s been quite popular.

I have to admit though, that my favourite competitive cooking show is Top Chef.  So for all those other Top Chef fans out there – you haven’t missed out!  The library has this show covered too!

Photography books to check out!

Photography books are always a pleasure to order – they’re a treat to look at and if you enjoy reading them you’ll certainly agree. It’s exciting finding new artists, subjects that look cool, or are beautifully covered, to add to our collection.  I always hope customers discover and enjoy them as much as I do. This time I thought I’d share some that are definitely worth taking out, all about American photography.

Syndetics book coverStarburst : color photography in America 1970-1980 / Kevin Moore ; with essays by James Crump and Leo Rubinfien. Starburst explores how the use of colour became a viable photographic practise, having previously been considered of little value and even controversial. It looks at the groundbreaking work of William Eggleston (the inspiration behind Karen Walker’s latest collection) and other ‘colour pioneers’ such as William Christenberry, Stephen Shore and Helen Levitt.

Syndetics book coverThe last photographic heroes : American photographers of the sixties and seventies / Gilles Mora. This book covers the modern, fresh photographic style that emerged from America during this time – similar to the ‘street style’ photography popular at the moment. It surveys the work of photographers Nan Goldin, Larry Clark and Lee Friedlander, amongst others, and places them in the wider social context of this tumultuous period.

Syndetics book coverDestroy this memory / Richard Misrach. Prolific artist Richard Misrach takes a completely different approach to photographing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. He’s known for photographing people in landscapes, but in these works the only human touch are the messages scrawled on destroyed building and debris. Huge full page pictures that initially appear to be humorous, convey the absolute devastation of this disaster. No information is offered – like titles, dates, locations, only the messages – allowing you to make up your own mind about the images. Interesting and sad – I recommend!

Sick of cupcakes?

Well really, how could you ever be sick of cupcakes?!  But for those looking to extend their cutesy-baking repertoire, here’s some suggestions from me.

Syndetics book coverBiscuiteers book of iced biscuits / Harriet Hastings & Sarah Moore ; photography by Katie Hammond.
Firstly, the Biscuiteers show you how to make pretty, retro (and quirky) iced biscuits.  Definitely for those wanting to improve their icing and design skills.

Syndetics book coverA zombie ate my cupcake! : 25 deliciously weird cupcake recipes / Lily Vanilli ; starring Paul Parker ; [photographer, David Munns].
The zombie treatment gives cupcakes a whole new twist!  Very weird and I only recommend for those who want to spend time shaping these humorous and detailed creations.

Syndetics book coverMarvellous mini-cakes / Ilona Chovancova ; photography by Ilona Chovancova.
My pick would be  mini-cakes – the mini-cake being a stylish, tiny, muffin-cake hybrid, and a big trend in Paris apparently.  They’re a good way to experiment with creative cake-baking without going the whole hog.

New cookbook to check out

Syndetics book coverHarvest to heat : cooking with America’s best chefs, farmers, and artisans.
While most other foodies have been caught up in Annabel Langbein fever, I’ve been enjoying something a bit different.  Harvest to Heat is an American cookbook by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer, advocates of using sustainable, organic and local ingredients.  They have drawn together top US chefs – such as Rick Bayless, Thomas Keller and Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio – to create recipes that showcase artisanal and regional produce.  Its certainly not everyday cooking, but it is inspirational!  And the photography and styling are great – I totally recommend.