Roaming through history: New travel books

While traveling offers the chance to explore historical sites, books ignite the imagination and can transport readers to historical moments in our world’s past. In this month’s new travel books, we can sail the seven seas with pirates in The Penguin Book of Pirates or investigate George Mallory’s last expedition in Fallen. You can also learn of some incredible sites to visit like the places in Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto. Check them out now!

The Penguin book of pirates
“Real-life accounts of the world’s most notorious pirates-both men and women, from the Golden Age of Piracy. By turns brutal, harrowing, and inspiring, these accounts of the “radically free” sailors who were citizens more of the oceangoing world than of any nation on land remind us of the glories and dangers of the open seas and the seductive appeal of communities forged in resistance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fallen : George Mallory and the tragic 1924 Everest expedition / Conefrey, Mick
“In the years following his disappearance near the summit of Mount Everest in June 1924 at the age of thirty-seven, George Mallory was elevated into a legendary international hero. Using diaries, letters, memoirs, and thousands of contemporary documents, Fallen is a gripping forensic investigation of Mallory’s last expedition that, at long last, separates the man from the myth.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Zen gardens and temples of Kyoto : a guide to Kyoto’s most important sites / Dougill, John
“Kyoto’s Zen heritage represents one of mankind’s greatest achievements—recognized by the large number of temples, shrines and gardens which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Millions of visitors travel to Kyoto yearly in search of their secrets, and here for the first time is a comprehensive overview of each major site.” (Catalogue)

The Antipodean Express : a journey by train from New Zealand to Spain / Hill, Gregory
“A captivating memoir detailing the author’s epic rail journey from his home in New Zealand to its exact antipodes in rural Spain. Anyone interested in travel, trains, and culture will love taking this armchair journey.” (Catalogue)

All you’ll see is sky : resetting a marriage on an adventure through Africa / Wilson, Janet
“Despite having everything she could ask for, Janet Wilson couldn’t shake a sense of emptiness in her life. After much back-and-forth, she and her husband reached an agreement: they would embark on a daring adventure, driving 25,000 miles across Africa. All You’ll See is Sky is a memoir of a woman’s transformation from brokenness to wholeness and a couple’s transformation from breakdown to breakthrough.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Between the chalk and the sea / Simmons, Gail
“When Henry VIII banned pilgrimage in 1538, he ended not only a centuries-old tradition of walking as an act of faith, but a valuable chance to discover the joy of walking as an escape from the burdens of everyday life. Winding 240 miles between the chalk hills and shifting seascapes of the south coast, Gail ventures deep into our past, exploring this lost path. Gail’s walk along the Old Way reveals the rich natural and cultural heritage found on our own doorstep.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A history of the world in 47 borders : the stories behind the lines on our maps / Elledge, Jonn
“People have been drawing lines on maps for as long as there have been maps to draw on. By telling the stories of these borders, we can learn a lot about how political identities are shaped, why the world looks the way it does – and about the scale of human folly. A fascinating, witty and surprising look at the history of the world told through its borders.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hidden Japan : an astonishing world of thatched villages, ancient shrines and primeval forests / Kerr, Alex
“A call to preserve disappearing facets of Japan’s rich and ancient culture, this book takes its inspiration from the 1960s classic, Hidden Hamlets by Shirasu Masako. Like Shirasu, Kerr travels to remote and lesser-known places around Japan where pockets of traditional culture can still be found. Some are faraway–like Aogashima Island, 200 miles south of Tokyo–while others are easy to reach, such as Mii-dera temple just east of Kyoto.” (Catalogue)

New Crime and Detective Fiction for June

“I always make a point of keeping the most pleasant-sounding name for the murderer. As he or she is bound to come to an unpleasant end, it seems the very least the author can do.” – Ngaio Marsh

Welcome to this month’s selection of newly acquired crime and detective fiction titles. As always, we have lined up a selection of likely suspects for you to peruse.

First up we have Death on the Lusitania by R.L Graham; an Agatha Christie-esque mystery set aboard the ill-fated ocean liner. Next, we have a couple of excellent titles from authors originally hailing from Aotearoa, the first of which is Kim Hunt’s superb The Quarry. We recently had the great pleasure of hosting a Ngaio Marsh event at Te Puna Waiora Newtown Library, in which Kim took part.

Dark deeds Down Under. Volume 2 is the second volume of the  acclaimed anthology, featuring specially commissioned New Zealand and Australian crime and detective short stories, collated by Ngaio Marsh  Awards mastermind and maestro Craig Sisterson.

Murder on the Allotment by Julie Wassmer is the latest instalment of the hugely popular cosy crime series. Wassmer’s books have become synonymous with great characterisation, coupled with lots of thrills and tension but with none of the gore associated with other crime genres. Fans of the chef, allotment holder and detective Pearl Nolan will be pleased to hear the books have now been adapted for television.

We also have a compelling and sinister debut novel, The Hunter’s Daughter by Nicola Solvinic, where the detective in the novel is the secret offspring of a serial killer. In contrast to the previous offerings, we  also have a collection of twelve Shakespearean-themed murder mysteries set in Elizabethan London in the shape of Peter Tremayne’s Made for Murders: a collection of twelve Elizabethan mysteries featuring Master Hardy Drew, Constable of the Bankside Watch. Deadly Animals by Marie Tierney is another debut novel, the daring and dark premise of which is a thirteen-year-old girl on the hunt of a serial killer in Britain. Our final pick comes from the bestselling Swedish author Tove Alsterdal called  Deep Harbour when her detective Eira Sjodin’s investigates a decades-old murder.

Death on the Lusitania / Graham, R. L.
“New York, 1915. RMS Lusitania, one of the world’s most luxurious ocean liners, departs for war-torn Europe. Among those on board is Patrick Gallagher, a civil servant in Her Majesty’s government tasked with escorting a British diplomat back to England. When a fellow passenger is believed to have shot himself in his cabin, Gallagher is asked by the captain to investigate the scene but one crucial detail doesn’t fit. The man’s body was discovered in a locked cabin with the key inside and no gun to be found. Was it really suicide? Or murder? Gallagher believes one of the passengers is a deadly killer one who could strike again at any moment. And all the while, the ship sails on towards Europe, where enemy submarines patrol dark waters.” (Catalogue)

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The Global Appeal of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Welcome to this month’s selection of newly acquired science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction  titles. As always, we have a host of rich and diverse books  in this month’s line-up. One aspect of this month’s list that struck us was its international nature. Certain genres of fiction hold global appeal and for the genres of science fiction and fantasy this certainly holds true. Great science fiction and fantasy, no matter where it originates, can find a worldwide audience.

And to aptly illustrate this point in this month selection we have French science fiction in the form of Continuum: French science fiction short stories. Japan is represented by  Takaoka’s Travels by the acclaimed writer Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, a wild and exuberant fantasy novel set in the ninth century. From our own fair shores, we have a romantic fantasy novel called The Amethyst Kingdom by A. K. Mulford.

Rebecca  Zahavi is an author with Iranian, French  and British heritage who currently works in France. Her latest fantasy book, TheHawkling, is the second instalment of her Tales Of The Edge series, the first instalment of which is The Collarbound. From South  Korea we have A Magical Girl Retires by Sŏ-ryŏn Pak, a fantasy tale about a magical girl who combats climate change; a novel which is in turn an homage to manga. Italy is represented by  Francesco Dimitri’s The dark side of the sky a tale of dread and wonder sent in southern Italy.

Continuum : French science fiction short stories
“This unique collection of newly translated short stories offers a taste of classic and contemporary French science fiction to English-language readers. These stories cover a range of fascinating topics including simulated reality, speciesism, ecology, and transhumanism-all while exploring universal themes of belonging, death, and identity. Some of the authors featured in this anthology, like Julia Verlanger, Sylvie Denis, or Jean-Claude Dunyach, have shaped the history of French science fiction after World War II. Curated by Annabelle Dolidon and Tessa Sermet,” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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Dewey Who? New Popular Non-Fic

This month’s picks are as much a potluck as ever, taking us from the Cold War era to an emergency room in Aotearoa, onwards into the lives of American jazz musicians, then through the biome of a rubbish dump and down the slopes of a deadly mountain – everywhere and anywhere, basically. Is there any common thread to link them? Probably not! We have total disregard for such pesky categories as Dewey and genre on this popular non-fiction blog, so take your pick of the spread or read them all if you dare – perhaps you’ll uncover some unexpected commonalities along the way.

The picnic : an escape to freedom and the collapse of the iron curtain / Longo, Matthew
“In August 1989, a group of Hungarian activists entered the forbidden militarised zone of the Iron Curtain and held a picnic. Word had spread of what was going to happen. Thousands of East German ‘holiday-makers’ had made their way to the Hungarian borderlands, awaiting an opportunity, surveilled by Stasi agents. The stage was set for the greatest border breach in Cold War history. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Soviet Union – the so-called end of history – all would flow from those dramatic hours. Drawing on dozens of original interviews with those involved, The Picnic reconstructs this world-shaping event and its tumultuous aftermath.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On call / Meredith, Ineke
“It’s all in a mad day’s work: the good, the bad and the crazy. From a man who swallowed fishhooks to patients playing pranks, emergency operations in the wee hours, constantly being mistaken for a nurse, and holding hands through silent goodbyes, this is a book about the strange, messy, intense world of surgery. When Ineke’s parents in Samoa fall ill, she is torn between her roles as a surgeon, a daughter, and a single working mother. Are the sacrifices of a life in scrubs worth it? Laugh-out-loud and sobering in equal turns, On Call is a memoir from inside the operating room and everything it takes to survive.” (Catalogue)

3 shades of blue : Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the lost empire of cool / Kaplan, James
3 Shades of Blue is Kaplan’s magnificent account of the paths of the three jazz giants: Miles, Coltrane and Evans. It’s a book about music, and business, and race, and an astonishing meditation on creativity and the strange hothouses that can produce its full flowering. It’s a book about the great forebears of this golden age, who would take music down strange new paths. But above all this is a book about three very different men – their struggles, their choices, their tragedies, their greatness. The tapestry of their lives is, in Kaplan’s hands, an American Odyssey, with no direction home. It is also a masterpiece, a book that is as big as America.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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Bits and Pieces: New Biographies in the Collection

We’re chock full of new biographies and memoirs in the collection this month.  Way too many to share here in a blog post, but we’ll give you a selection to get you started.  Be sure to go and look at What’s New in the collection, where you can use the filters to select the genre or subject you’re most interested in.  Take a look at these…

Bits and pieces : my mother, my brother, and me / Goldberg, Whoopi
“From multi-award winner Whoopi Goldberg comes a new and unique memoir of her family and their influence on her early life. If it weren’t for Emma Johnson, Caryn Johnson would have never become Whoopi Goldberg. Emma raised her children not just to survive, but to thrive. In this intimate and heartfelt memoir, Whoopi shares many of the deeply personal stories of their lives together for the first time. To this day, she doesn’t know how her mother was able to give them such an enriching childhood, despite the struggles they faced–and it wasn’t until she was well into adulthood that Whoopi learned just how traumatic some of those struggles were.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

How to avoid a happy life : a memoir / Lawrinson, Julia
“From domestic dysfunction to extraordinary bad luck, Julia Lawrinson reflects on her intriguing and eventful life with disarming honesty and wit. Some people are born into bad situations, some people have bad situations thrust upon them, and some people find bad situations through their dodgy choices, lack of information and personal idiosyncrasies. Julia’s life sits at the intersection of all three.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The rulebreaker : the life and times of Barbara Walters / Page, Susan
“Barbara Walters was a force from the time TV was exploding on the American scene in the 1960s to its waning dominance in a new world of competition from streaming services and social media half a century later. This is the eye-opening account of the woman who knew she had to break all the rules so she could break all the rules about what viewers deserved to know.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Hine Toa : a story of bravery / Te Awekōtuku, Ngāhuia
“In this fiery memoir about identity and belonging, Ngāhuia te Awekōtuku describes what was possible for a restless working-class girl from the pā. After moving to Auckland for university, Ngāhuia advocates resistance as a founding member of Ngā Tamatoa and the Women’s and Gay Liberation movements, becoming a critical voice in protests from Waitangi to the streets of Wellington.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

First things : a memoir / Ricketts, Harry
“In First Things, Harry Ricketts chronicles his early life through the lens of ‘ firsts’: those moments that can hold their detail and potency across a lifetime. Set mostly in Hong Kong and Oxford, these bright fragments include the places, people, writers, encounters and obsessions that have shaped Ricketts’ world, from his first friends and rivals to his first time being caned by a teacher and his first time dropping acid. In First Things, the gaps in between shine as brightly as the memories themselves.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Writers who changed history
“Explore the fascinating lives and loves of the greatest novelists, poets, and playwrights. Lavishly illustrated with photographs and paintings of writers’ homes, studies, and personal artifacts—along with pages from original manuscripts, first editions, and their correspondence—Writers Who Changed History introduces the key ideas, themes, and literary techniques of each writer, revealing the imaginations and personalities behind some of the world’s greatest novels, short stories, poems, and plays. Covering an eclectic range of authors from the Middle Ages to the present day, Writers Who Changed History provides a compelling glimpse of the lives and loves of each great writer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nothing significant to report : the misadventures of a kiwi soldier / Nustrini, Dario
“Laugh-out-loud yarns from a soldier in the New Zealand Army. Nothing Significant to Report is the brilliantly entertaining and unvarnished truth of what life is like in the New Zealand Army. From back-breaking exercises designed to make recruits spit the dummy to roleplaying in an SAS manhunt and accidentally starting a rubbish fire in a military compound, these are self-deprecating tales of misfits, mischief and camaraderie.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Across mountains, land & sea / Azadi, Arman
“Arman’s just a boy when he’s forced to leave his home and embark on an incredible journey. Separated from family and friends, he travels across mountains, land and sea to find refuge. Encountering bandits, war and wolves, and surviving a hazardous boat crossing, he arrives at Dover, clinging to the underside of a lorry. His journey had just begun.” (Catalogue)


The whole staggering mystery : a story of fathers lost and found / Brownrigg, Sylvia
“When Sylvia Brownrigg received a package addressed to her father that had been lost for over fifty years, she wanted to deliver it to him before it was too late. She did not expect that her father, Nick, would choose not to open it, so she and her brother finally did. Vividly weaving together the lives of her father and grandfather, through memory and imagination, Brownrigg explores issues of sexuality and silences, and childhoods fractured by divorce. In her uncovering of this lost family, she finally makes her own story whole.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Missing persons : or, My grandmother’s secrets / Wills, Clair
When Clair Wills was in her twenties, she discovered she had a cousin she had never met. Born in a mother-and-baby home in 1950s Ireland, Mary grew up in an institution not far from the farm where Clair spent happy childhood summers. Yet Clair was never told of Mary’s existence. How could a whole family–a whole country–abandon unmarried mothers and their children, erasing them from history? There are some experiences that do not want to be remembered. What began as an effort to piece together the facts became an act of decoding the most unreliable of evidence–stories, secrets, silences.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For more new books in the collection, go to: What’s new / June 2024 (

What’s My Body Telling Me: New Health Books in the Collection

We have another bumper month of new health books in the collection.  No matter what subject interests you, we’ve got a new health book that can help.  At every stage of life, from pregnancy and birth, through to puberty, into adulthood and for seniors, as well as books covering mental and physical health, there’s something for everyone.  Have a look at these we’ve selected to share…

What’s my body telling me? : your body isn’t the problem. It’s the solution / Todd, Anthea
“In What’s My Body Telling Me? Women’s health expert Dr. Anthea Todd combines her expertise across energetic, functional, and medical fields to give you what you’ve been craving. A simple guide to know how to listen to your body and what to do next – no matter how big or small the symptom. The simple steps to take when your blood tests say there is nothing wrong with you. How to use your body as a guide to never get sucked into a health fad again. Your body has never been the problem, it’s the solution.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

10-minute strength training exercises for seniors : exercises and routines to build muscle, balance, and stamina / Deboo, Ed
” Staying strong and flexible becomes even more important as we age. This guide to exercise for seniors makes it easy to stay in motion with short and simple exercises you can do anytime and anywhere. With clear illustrations alongside step-by-step instructions from licensed physical therapist Ed Deboo, you’ll learn how to build muscle mass, improve bone density, and feel great in only 10 minutes per day. Live longer and stronger with 10-Minute Strength Training Exercises for Seniors.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

4 weeks to better sleep : a life-changing plan for deep sleep, improved brain function and feeling great / Mosley, Michael
“A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy brain and body. So why do so many of us struggle to sleep well? In 4 Weeks to Better Sleep, Dr Michael Mosley explains what happens when we sleep, what triggers common sleep problems and why standard advice rarely works. With new techniques and a revised 4-week sleep programme to help you sleep faster and better.” (Catalogue)

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