Warm up with New Crafts and Hobbies Books

Winter is upon us and the atua Tāwhirimātea is making his presence known with a series of thunderstorms and biting wind chill in the last couple of weeks. As we say goodbye to barbecues and frolicking on a beach, what better way to usher in this new season than to get lost on a passion project at the comfort of your home!

Thinking of making a pair of your own simple slouchy socks for your cold feet but don’t know where to start? Tracy Lord’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Knitting: a complete step-by-step course” has 20 workshops and corresponding projects to put your knitting into practice. Likewise, packed with more than 100 patterns with fresh themes ranging from galaxies to terrariums “Fun & Funky Cross Stitch: 160+ Designs, 5 Alphabets, 30 Bonus Gift Ideas” is a must-have on your winter hobby list.

For those keen to learn about fabric craft, the book “Furoshiki : The Japanese art of wrapping with fabric” by Aurélie Le Marec invites you to discover the benefit of this ancient Japanese art of folding and knotting a fabric to carry all kinds of items (guitar case, anyone?). With over 50 projects to try, this creative and versatile craft could be part of your journey to a greener lifestyle. If you find yourself dabbling in flower arranging, don’t let this winter season stop you from enjoying the beauty fresh flowers evoke. Two books in our collection this month, “Floral Evolution: Over 20 displays that make the most of every stem” and “The Little Flower Recipe Book” provide practical guide, step-by-step instructions, along with stunning photographs for budding florists on a budget.

Other titles in this month’s selection includes “The Fashion Show : The stories, invites and art of 300 landmark shows” .  This pink and gold colour motif book is a window to over 50 years of  fashion’s exclusive printed art invitations. In “Anna: the Biography”, author Amy Odell delights us about Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour’s rise to become one of fashion industry’s most powerful women. So curl up with a cup of tea and spice up your winter night with intriguing tales from one of catwalk’s most important figures.

A beginner’s guide to knitting : a complete step-by-step course / Lord, Tracey
“Presents a step-by-step guide to stitches and techniques, from knit and purl to Fair Isle, and includes twenty beautiful projects to make.” (Catalogue)

 

 

 

Fun & funky cross stitch : 160+ designs, 5 alphabets, 30 bonus gift ideas.
“Hand stitch funky designs! Stitch an eclectic collection of funky designs from top cross stitch artists around the world. Includes a beginners guide to the basic stitches, the stitch chart, and supplies lists. Each design has a skill level suggestion and an estimated time of completion”–Page 4 of cover.” (Catalogue)

 

Furoshiki : the Japanese art of wrapping with fabric / Le Marec, Aurélie
“Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, and is used to wrap gifts and create bags for carrying things more easily. There is no sewing involved and, using just a square of fabric, Aurélie Le Marec shows you how to wrap all kinds of items from books to guitars and laptops to wine bottles. You can adapt furoshiki to suit items of all shapes and sizes and, with more than 50 furoshiki folds explained with step-by-step illustrations and clear instructions, you can help to reduce waste by making furoshiki part of your everyday life.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Floral evolution : over 20 displays that make the most of every stem / Foxwell, Catherine
“Author Catherine Foxwell believes that the flowers and beautiful arrangements should be accessible to all, and this book takes you through some simple projects using sustainable techniques to achieve this. She uses readily available, inexpensive flowers in straightforward projects that teach you how to repurpose the bloom into four different displays. With this step-by-step, extremely accessible approach, anyone can arrange blooms like a pro.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The little flower recipe book : 148 tiny arrangements for every season & occasion / Rizzo, Jill
“Beloved florist Jill Rizzo is back, and this time she has turned her attention to charming miniature arrangements. Projects are organized seasonally, and range from a thimble-sized vase of pansies to a tiny teacup holding a bundle of zinnias to a bud vase with a single Japanese anemone. All told, the book contains over 100 easy-to-follow recipes: ingredients lists specify the type and quantity of blooms needed; clear instructions detail each step; and hundreds of photos show how to place every stem.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The fashion show : the stories, invites and art of 300 landmark shows / Webb, Iain R
“The story of the haute couture catwalk, through an exclusive collection of VIP invitations. Spanning over 45 years and 300 shows, each invite opens a window into the key trends and ideas behind each collection.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Anna : the biography / Odell, Amy
“This definitive biography of legendary fashion journalist and media mogul Anna Wintour follows her journey from the trendy fashion scene of swinging 1960s London to becoming the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine.” (Catalogue)

 

 

 

Greta and Valdin: Our latest eLibrary promotion

Greta and Valdin cover against a photo of Auckland City

 

The modern world is too much for me. I feel like I’m George of the Jungle. —Greta

At the moment, for personal reasons, I don’t like reading things about people being in love with each other. —Valdin

Since its release in 2021, Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly has become one of the must-read New Zealand novels. Its ultra-modern intelligent humour, often delivered in a razor-sharp pointed fashion, makes for a totally compelling read. Now, thanks to Libby, we are excited to offer unlimited access to the eBook.

The plot revolves around the smart and slightly quirky brother and sister co-narrators Valdin and Greta. They share an apartment in Auckland where they dissect the modern world; its ups and downs but especially each other’s personal lives. Both are seeking love: Valdin is still in love with his ex-boyfriend, whilst Greta is in love with her fellow English tutor Holly. The resulting observations and dialogue are pure comic gold. As one critic put it, the novel reads like “the strange love child of Shakespeare and Tinder”. What is even more remarkable is that Greta and Valdin is Reilly’s debut novel, which went on to win the Hubert Church Prize for Fiction for Best First Book at the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Now is your chance to grab an electronic copy of the book and laugh and cry with Greta and Valdin! Simply login to Overdrive or Libby with your library card to access a copy. Unlimited copies of these eBooks will be available from Monday the 27th of June to Sunday the 10th of July.

Dark deeds and fresh blood: 2022 Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed

The Ngaio Marsh Awards celebrate literary excellence in crime, mystery and thriller writing. This year’s longlist has just been announced — and what a fabulous and varied shortlist it is!

Composite graphic of covers of all the shortlisted titles

Included amongst its illustrious ranks we have novels set in Renaissance Florence,  1930s Singapore, New York City, and 1990s Auckland — with many established authors sitting alongside debut writers. The diversity of tropes, characters, styles, and settings is truly thrilling!

Now  in its twelfth year, The Ngaio Marsh Awards are, as always, a terrific showcase of exciting and innovative Aotearoa New Zealand storytelling that is truly world class. The finalists for both the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories will be announced in early August, and then the finalists will be celebrated and winners announced as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, to be held from 31 August to 4 September 2022.

Longlist for this year’s Best Novel prize:

About the longlisted titles:


City of vengeance / Bishop, D. V. 
“Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth. Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany, or suffer the consequences. During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. …” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Before you knew my name / Bublitz, Jacqueline
“Dead girls don’t usually get to tell their story, but Alice Lee has always been a different type of girl. When she arrives in New York on her eighteenth birthday, carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen Leica in her bag, Alice is a plucky teenager looking to start a new life away from her dark past. Now she’s ‘Jane Doe’, ‘Riverside Jane’, an unidentified body on a slab at City Morgue…” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

The quiet people / Cleave, Paul
“Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

To the sea / Crutchley, Nikki
“Keep a secret. Tell a lie. Protect the family. At all costs. A compulsively readable suspense thriller which will keep guessing and keep you up late into the night. Iluka has been the only home that 18-year-old Ana has ever known. The beautiful wild pine plantation overlooking the Pacific Ocean where her grandfather builds furniture, her aunt runs an artists’ retreat and her uncle tends the land, is paradise, a private idyll safe from the outside world. But the place holds a violent secret and when a stranger arrives, Ana will need to make a choice – to protect everything – and everyone – she holds dear – or tell the truth and destroy it all. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Overdrive coverPolaroid Nights , Lizzie Harwood (ebook)
“Auckland city bars, 1996, when the click / whirr of a Polaroid 600 proved you were living your best life. Betty’s is on repeat: waitress till late, drink till dawn, in bed to forget. But partying like there’s no tomorrow is no fix for the problems crowding in. When her ex is murdered and left in her bed, Betty and her flatmate Alabama turn to the bar world to find out who did it. Was it the Psychic – or someone closer?” (Overdrive description)

Isobar precinct / Kasmara, Angelique
“Lestari Aris is a woman on the edge. Her tattoo studio on Karangahape Road is hammered by burglaries; the hangers-on in her life, from a teenage runaway to a married cop, are bonded to her for reasons she can’t fathom. And years after Lestari’s father disappeared, her Indonesian mother is still lost in a self-medicated blur. When a murder in Symonds Street Cemetery whirls Lestari into the orbit of an unpredictable drug, she uncovers a decades-long covert clinical study targeting rough sleepers and others on the fringes – and its dark connections with her own life and history. Everything is connected: the past is circling. How far will Lestari go to save someone she loves? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Nancy business / McDonald, R. W. R. 
“It’s been four months since Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon were together for Christmas. Now back for the first anniversary of Tippy’s father’s death, the Nancys are reformed when Riverstone is rocked by an early morning explosion that kills three people and destroys the town hall. A new case is born. Is the accused bomber really guilty? Is there a second bomber? And if so, does that mean a threat to destroy Riverstone Bridge is real? And is asparagus a colour? Once again, it is up to the Nancys to go against the flow and ignore police orders to get to the truth. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

She’s a killer / McDougall, Kirsten 
“The world’s climate is in crisis and New Zealand is being divided and reshaped by privileged immigrant wealthugees. Thirty-something Alice has a near-genius IQ and lives at home with her mother with whom she communicates by Morse code. Alice’s imaginary friend, Simp, has shown up, with a running commentary on her failings. But then she meets Erika – an actual genius full of terrifying ambition. It’s about what happens when we refuse to face our most demanding problems, told by a woman who is a strange and calculating force of chaos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The last guests / Pomare, J. P.
“What do you do when you think no one is watching? Lina and Cain are doing their best to stay afloat. Money has been tight since Cain returned from active duty, and starting a family is proving harder than they thought. Putting Lina’s inherited lakehouse on Airbnb seems like the solution to at least one of their problems. The secluded house is more of a burden than a retreat, anyway, and fixing up the old place makes Cain feel useful for once. But letting strangers stay in their house might not be the best idea. Someone is watching – their most mundane tasks, their most intimate moments – and what they see will change everything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The devils you know / Sanders, Ben
“Vincent needs a change. He’s spent the last fifteen years in covert operations for the U.S. government, but after a botched and fatal mission, he decides he’s done with pulling triggers for shadowy officialdom. He wants a rest from the violence. Vincent accepts a job in Santa Barbara, California, as head of security for supermarket mogul Eugene Lamar. It’s perfect: his main duty is driving the boss to and from golf, which means ample down-time for surfing, or sitting by the pool contemplating life – and how to live it with a zero body-count. He’s intrigued too by Lamar’s daughter .  And can Vincent keep her safe from the brutal characters who are after her father? …” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Quiet in her bones / Singh, Nalini 
“When socialite Nina Rai disappeared without a trace, everyone wrote it off as another trophy wife tired of her wealthy husband. But now her bones have turned up in the shadowed green of the forest that surrounds her elite neighborhoods, a haven of privilege and secrets that’s housed the same influential families for decades. The rich live here, along with those whose job it is to make their lives easier. And some body knows what happened to Nina one rainy night ten years ago. Her son Aarav heard a chilling scream that night, and he’s determined to uncover the ugly truth that lives beneath the moneyed elegance . . . ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“I mistook him for a Swedish sailor” – our new fiction

“I mistook him for a Swedish sailor” –
Nora Barnacle on her first meeting with James Joyce.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses, one of the most famous novels ever written. And amongst the many celebrations there are a whole host of new books being published, two of which are in this month’s newly acquired fiction lists. Nora: a love story of Nora and James Joyce by  Nuala O’Connor, is a fictionalised autobiography of Nora Barnacle, James Joyce’s future wife, muse, and the model for Molly Bloom in Ulysses.

Nora Barnacle first met James  Joyce first met on 10 June 1904 and their first romantic liaison was on 16 June. And it was this fact that led Joyce to set 16th June 1904 as the date for the setting of Ulysses. They eventually married in 1931; she was born in a Galway workhouse and was a very different type of person from Joyce, having very different cultural tastes and interests. Their relationship was complex, though it is very evident they both loved each other. She said of their first meeting “I mistook him for a Swedish sailor – his electric blue eyes, yachting cap and plimsolls.”

The other book hails from our own fair shores. Breach of all size: small stories on Ulysses, love and Venice is a collection of love stories by 36 New Zealand authors that celebrates, in a linked fashion, the twin anniversaries of the 100th anniversary of the publication of  Ulysses by James Joyce and the founding of  Venice.

Below is a very small selection of the other newly acquired titles that caught our eye.

Nora : a love story of Nora and James Joyce / O’Connor, Nuala
“Dublin, 1904. Nora Barnacle, from Galway, works as a maid at Finn’s Hotel. Her life is changed when she meets Dubliner James Joyce, a fateful encounter that turns into a lifelong love. Despite his hesitation to marry, Nora follows Joyce in pursuit of a life beyond Ireland. As their life unfolds, Nora finds herself in conflict between their intense desire for each other and the constant anxiety of living in poverty throughout Europe. She believes in Jim’s singular gift and knows that he thrives on being the toast of the town. As Jim writes, drinks, and gambles his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, but at a cost to her own happiness and that of their children.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Breach of all size : small stories on Ulysses, love and Venice
“This book bridges two anniversaries. Ulysses by James Joyce was published in 1922. Venice was founded in 421. The title Breach of All Size is Joyce’s pun on Venice landmark Bridge of Sighs but could as easily describe his sprawling modernist classic, which clocks in at 265,222 words. To celebrate both anniversaries, 36 Aotearoa writers were asked to write love stories set in Venice and inspired by words from Ulysses, but to steer the opposite course and keep them short. How short? 421 words, of course.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The language of food / Abbs, Annabel
“England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When we were birds : a novel / Banwo, Ayanna Lloyd
“The St. Bernard women have lived in Morne Marie, the house on top of a hill outside Port Angeles, for generations. One woman in each generation is responsible for the passage of the city’s souls into the afterlife. But when Petronella dies, Yejide is unprepared to fulfill her destiny. Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death, but when his mother can no longer work, the only job he can find is grave digging. Yejide and Darwin meet inside the gates of Fidelis, Port Angeles’s largest and oldest cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Elizabeth Finch / Barnes, Julian
“We’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Finch. We invite you to take her course in Culture and Civilisation. She will change the way you see the world. ‘The task of the present is to correct our understanding of the past. And that task becomes the more urgent when the past cannot be corrected.’ Elizabeth Finch was a teacher, a thinker, an inspiration – always rigorous, always thoughtful. With measured empathy, she guided her students to develop meaningful ideas and to discover their centres of seriousness. As Neil, a former student, unpacks Elizabeth’s notebooks, and remembers her uniquely inquisitive mind, her passion for reason resonates through the years. …” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The library of unfinished business / Bell, Patricia
“Maurice, a small-town librarian, dies one Monday morning in a fiery car crash. Finding himself in a very unexpected afterlife, he befriends Kit, who knows more than he should about Heaven – and about Maurice’s life on Earth. Meanwhile, Maurice’s daughter Andy struggles to come to terms with the death of her ineffectual father. Tasked with preparing his eulogy, she starts writing letters to him, trying to make sense of her family’s history. As Andy comes closer to discovering a long-hidden secret, Maurice and Kit uncover a terrifying heavenly plot, and for the first time ever Maurice must decide: will he stand and fight for something…or risk losing everything? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Leonard girls / Challinor, Deborah
“In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam war, nurse Rowie Leonard is serving a 12-month tour of duty. She supports the war and is committed to caring for wounded New Zealand and Australian troops. After a few months, however, she realises that nothing at all about the conflict is as clear-cut as she’d assumed. Her younger sister Jo, is the opposite, a student at Auckland University, a folk singer and a fervent anti-war protestor. But when Jo falls for professional soldier Sam Apanui, home on leave to visit his ill father, she finds herself torn between her feelings and her convictions. As the three of them grapple with love, loss, and the stresses and sorrows of war, each will be forced to confront and question everything they believed.” (Adapted from Catalogue).  Also available as an eBook.

Mothertongues / Dovey, Ceridwen
“After sharing their artistic frustrations at the school gate, Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell decide to take a risk: to co-write a book about early motherhood. Off-colour, offbeat, off their heads, they begin – but then, what is motherhood if not messy, non-linear, multi-authored and potty mouthed?What results is songs, memoir, fiction, drama, poetry, letters, pregnant and lactating AI assistants texting each other. Together, Dovey and Bell create a collage of absurd mothering, failing mothering and moving mothering. They salvage the scraps of each other’s lives to imagine themselves into a future where women don’t always have to choose between Art and Motherhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Resilience and superstition: New non-fiction

In the spirit of Out on the Shelves, this month we’re highlighting The Love That Dares, a thoughtful and moving collection of letters on LGBT+ love and friendship. The authors Rachel Smith and Barbara Vesey have carefully chosen which pieces of correspondence to include, presenting each letter alongside information about the writer and the historical context, and the result is a wonderful little book that opens a window onto the past – in this case, a past that hasn’t often been easily accessible. The additional context adds a lot of value, but as you would expect it is the letters themselves which make up the heart and soul of this book. We recommend checking it out! 

As for the other non-fiction picks for this month, if you’re after something a little spooky and superstitious, why not try The Premonitions Bureau or The Ruin of All Witches? The first is about John Barker, a psychiatrist who attempted to collate premonitions of disaster in the 1960s, while the latter looks into the colonial-era witch hunts in Massachusetts, focusing on the experiences of one family. We’re also particularly excited to check out Soundings, a lyrical blend of nature writing and memoir, which tells the tale of a mother and her son as they follow migrating whales in the Arctic.

The love that dares : letters of LGBTQ+ love & friendship through history/ / Smith, Rachel
“A good love letter can speak across centuries, and reassure us that the agony and the ecstasy one might feel today have been shared by lovers long gone. In The Love That Dares, queer love speaks its name through a wonderful selection of surviving letters between lovers and friends, confidants and companions. Alongside the more famous names coexist beautifully written letters by lesser-known lovers. Together, they weave a narrative of queer love through the centuries, through the romantic, often funny, and always poignant words of those who lived it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Soundings : journeys in the company of whales / Cunningham, Doreen
“Doreen first visited Utqiagvik, the northernmost town in Alaska, as a young journalist reporting on climate change among indigenous whaling communities. Years later, plunged into sudden poverty and isolation after becoming a single parent, Doreen embarks on an extraordinary journey: following the grey whale migration all the way north to the Iñupiaq family that took her in. Soundings is the story of a woman reclaiming her life, mile by mile; a child growing to love an ocean that is profoundly endangered; and a mother learning from another species how to parent in a time of unprecedented change.” (Adapted from Amazon UK)

Indigenous women’s voices : 20 years on from Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing methodologies
“This collection celebrates the breadth and depth of how Indigenous writers are shaping the decolonizing research world today. With contributions from Indigenous female researchers, this collection offers the much needed academic space to distinguish methodological approaches, and overcome the novelty confines of being marginal voices.” (Catalogue)

The ruin of all witches : life and death in the New World / Gaskill, Malcolm
The Ruin of All Witches tells the dark, real-life folktale of witch-hunting in a remote Massachusetts plantation. These were the turbulent beginnings of colonial America, when English settlers’ dreams of love and liberty gave way to paranoia and terror, enmity and rage. Drawing on uniquely rich, previously neglected source material, Malcolm Gaskill brings to life a New World existence steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in curses and enchantments, and precariously balanced between life and death.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The premonitions bureau : a true account of death foretold / Knight, Sam
“On the morning of October 21, 1966, Kathleen Middleton, a music teacher in suburban London, awoke choking and gasping, convinced disaster was about to strike. An hour later, a mountain of rubble containing waste from a coal mine collapsed above the village of Aberfan. Psychiatrist John Barker became convinced there had been supernatural warning signs of the disaster, and decided to establish a “premonitions bureau” to collect dreams and forebodings from the public. Middleton was one of hundreds of seemingly normal people, who would contribute their visions to Barker’s research in the years to come, some of them unnervingly accurate.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The uncaged sky / Moore-Gilbert, Kylie
“On September 12, 2018 British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran Airport by Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin and Qarchak prisons for 804 days, this is the full and gripping account of her harrowing ordeal. After more than two years of struggle, Kylie was finally released in a high stakes three-nation prisoner swap deal orchestrated by the Australian government, laying bare the complex game of global politics in which she had become a valuable pawn.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Recovery : the lost art of convalescence / Francis, Gavin
“When it comes to illness, sometimes the end is just the beginning. Recovery and convalescence are words that exist at the periphery of our lives – until we are forced to contend with what they really mean. Here, GP and writer Gavin Francis explores how – and why – we get better, revealing the many shapes recovery takes, its shifting history and the frequent failure of our modern lives to make adequate space for it. Characterised by Francis’s beautiful prose and his view of medicine as ‘the alliance of science and kindness’, Recovery is a book about a journey that most of us never intend to make.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dogs in early New Zealand photographs
“This entertaining selection of over 100 photos of New Zealand dogs reveals some of the more curious ways in which they have appeared in photographic collections from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The photographs take the reader across the towns and landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the text profiles many of the photographers and studios that flourished prior to the First World War. It also pays tribute to the museums and galleries that now care for these delightful collections.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Join our Matariki Winter Reading Challenge!

This Matariki, we’re laying down a wero – how many of the pukapuka on our Reading List can you read?

We’ve picked 25 of our favourite pukapuka written by Māori writers, that were published in the last few years, and you can earn digital badges just by reading them and logging your read titles on BeanstackTau kē! The challenge is aimed adults and has something for everyone – titles include poetry, novels, short story collections and Young Adult novels, as well as non-fiction. There are nine badges to collect – one for each whetū in the Matariki cluster.

Matariki and winter is the perfect time to curl up with a book and set yourself a reading challenge that includes some amazing Māori writers that may be new to you! The challenge runs until August 31 and all of the books listed are available on our catalogue. Many of them are also available in our eLibrary, and one is on Bridget Williams Books.

Visit Beanstack to register and to take part. You can also participate on the app! Get the iOS version here and the Android version here.

Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori. Kia pai tāu pānui! Happy reading!

Newly acquired Crime & Mystery titles

“Photography, like alcohol, should only be allowed to those who can do without it.”
– Walter Sickert

As is often the case, there is a rich and wide variety of newly-acquired crime and mystery titles in this month’s list; in fact, books to suit every crime and mystery taste.

From Murder at the National Gallery by Jim Eldridge, a title in which the real-life artist Walter Sickert is suspected for murdering an artist’s model and perhaps implicated in the Jack the Ripper series of murders. The premise of this novel is not without some foundation – several researchers have linked Sickert to these crimes; indeed, crime writer Patricia Cornwell even bought several Sickert paintings, hoping to find DNA in them that would directly link him to the cases. But whilst Sickert did have a morbid fascination with the killer, even producing a painting called The Ripper’s Bedroom, these theories have largely been discounted. At the other end of the scale, we have The Bangalore Detective’s Club; a perfect read if you are a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This month’s list also includes two New Zealand crime novels – Hives of Lies, featuring accountant Claire Connor who uses her sleuthing and accountant skills to solve what initially appears to be deaths caused by bee stings, and The Final Call – a gritty crime tale set in Auckland in 1979 from a twice-nominated finalist of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. With so much on offer, there really is something for everyone.

Murder at the national gallery / Eldridge, Jim
“1897, London. The capital is shocked to learn that the body of a woman has been found at the National Gallery, eviscerated in a manner that recalls all too strongly the exploits of the infamous Jack the Ripper. Daniel Wilson and Abigail Fenton are contacted by a curator of the National Gallery for their assistance. The dead woman, an artist’s model and lady of the night, had links to artist Walter Sickert, who was a suspect during the Ripper’s spree of killings. Scotland Yard have arrested Sickert on suspicion of this fresh murder but it is not the last… Copycat murders of the Ripper’s crimes implicate the artist who loves to shock, but Sickert insists that he is innocent. Who would want to frame him? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Bangalore Detectives Club / Nagendra, Harini
“When clever, headstrong Kaveri moves to Bangalore to marry handsome young doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life. But that all changes the night of the party at the Century Club, where she escapes to the garden for some peace and quiet–and instead spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. Half an hour later, the party turns into a murder scene. When a vulnerable woman is connected to the crime, Kaveri becomes determined to save her and launches a private investigation to find the killer, tracing his steps from an illustrious brothel to an Englishman’s mansion. She soon finds that sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for mathematics, a head for logic, and a doctor for a husband… .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hive of lies / Robinson, Diane
“Who knew accounting could be dangerous? Could Claire Connor’s first day at her new job get any worse? Hostile staff, an embarrassing skirt incident … But then the body of her friend Anne is found at a honey-producer client, apparently stung to death. Anne wasn’t due to start the audit for a few days, so why was she there? When another colleague dies in unusual circumstances, Claire’s firm finds itself under siege from the media, and losing clients. Accident prone and inclined to recklessness, can Claire uncover what really happened to her colleagues without suffering a similar fate?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The final call / Shieff, Jen
“Who is out to destroy Carmel O’Sullivan and her sister Tess, top call-girls in Rita Saunders’ gentlemen’s club? Who will be next? When Tess is murdered and younger sister Maxine is among the passengers on the ill-fated Air New Zealand flight to Mt Erebus, Carmel feels God has turned away from her family. Secrets emerge as the police investigate. The spotlight shifts incessantly. Hungarian immigrant Istvan Ziegler loves Carmel, offering her the safety and respectability she craves, but he has to compete with Rita for Carmel’s affection and commitment.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This is the night they come for you / Goddard, Robert
“On a stifling afternoon at Police HQ in Algiers, Superintendent Taleb, coasting towards retirement, with not even an air-conditioned office to show for his long years of service, is handed a ticking time bomb of a case which will take him deep into Algeria’s troubled past and its fraught relationship with France. To his dismay, he is assigned to work with Agent Hidouchi, an intimidating representative of the country’s feared secret service, who makes it clear she intends to call the shots. They are instructed to pursue a former agent, now on the run after twenty years in prison for his part in a high-level corruption scandal…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The vanishing type / Adams, Ellery
“When a deputy asks for help with a wedding proposal and a man connected to his future wife is found dead, Nora Pennington and her fellow readers investigate the connection to the woman’s past and the secret she is hiding from everyone.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

 

 

One-shot Harry / Phillips, Gary
“Los Angeles, 1963: African American Korean War veteran Harry Ingram earns a living as a news photographer and occasional process server: chasing police radio calls and dodging baseball bats. With racial tensions running high on the eve of Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rally, Ingram risks ending up one of the victims at every crime scene he photographs. When Ingram hears a call over the police scanner to the scene of a deadly automobile accident, he recognizes the vehicle described as belonging to his good friend and old army buddy, the white jazz trumpeter Ben Kingslow, with whom he’d only just reconnected……” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder on Madison Square / Thompson, Victoria
” Former policeman Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won’t manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way. A few days later, the newspapers report that millionaire Alvin Bing has been found dead, pinned beneath one of the wheels of his very own motorcar…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kath’s Reviews: Film and Television

Kia ora!  I’m Kath, one of the branch librarians and I’m an avid film and television viewer.  I’m regularly diving deep into the excellent DVD collection we have in Wellington City Libraries, as well as content from Beamafilm and Kanopy — the two streaming platforms available to Wellington City Library customers.

In this new series of posts, I’m hoping to share some of the gems I come across each month with Pōneke film and television enthusiasts! Some of the excellent viewing I’ve seen recently include:

Ghostbusters Afterlife (2021) DVD

DVD Cover of Ghostbusters: AfterlifeIntended to be a sequel to the original 1980’s films, Ghostbusters Afterlife certainly captures the flavour of action-packed comedy from the original 1984 movie, which I saw at the drive-in when I was 13 years old! 

Connected through the original by the character of Egon Spengler, his estranged daughter and her kids move to his old farmhouse after his death.  Egon’s grandaughter Phoebe (McKenna Grace) has inherited her grandfather’s scientific curiosity and stumbles into his plans to save the world from an occultist determined to bring back Sumerian God Gozer.  Between Phoebe, her brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and friend Podcast (Logan Kim), the race is on to work out the vintage Ghostbusters technology and save the world.  Also stars Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon, with cameos from most of the original 1984 Ghostbusters cast.

Best bit: Paul Rudd walking through the Walmart.  If you know Paul Rudd at all, you’ll know why this is the best scene.

Poppy (2021) DVD

This is a sweet new New Zealand film, the story of Poppy (Libby Hunsdale), a young woman with Down Syndrome who has the same hopes, dreams and ambitions of any young woman of her age.  She wants to get her drivers license, an apprenticeship as a mechanic and a sweet boyfriend.  However, her older brother Dave (Ari Boyland) is very protective of her and keeps her from the independence she seeks.  Poppy meets up with a former school friend, Luke (Seb Hunter) who needs his car repaired to enter the local burnout competition, a relationship that begins to open many doors of independence for Poppy.

Best bit: The burnout competition.  It’ll bring out the revhead in you.

Beaches (1988) DVD

The classic film from 1988 starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.  Sometimes you just need a good cleansing cry and this is the film to do it.  After a chance meeting as girls, polar opposites CC and Hilary strike up a friendship that is kept alive over the years by letter writing.  They meet again as young adults and have a fractious relationship until Hilary learns she has a terminal disease.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must see classic.

Best bit: Any time Bette Midler sings.

Sweet CountrySweet Country (2017) Beamafilm

I am a big fan of director Warwick Thornton’s work, so I was thrilled when this one came to Beamafilm.  Starring New Zealand’s own Sam Neill, along with Australian acting legend Bryan Brown, and new talent  Aboriginal actors Hamilton Morris and Natassia Gorey-Furber.  The story of Sam (Morris) and Lizzie (Gorey-Furber), who go on the run after Sam kills a white station owner in self defence, and are hunted by Sargeant Fletcher (Brown) and his team.  Sam Neill plays kindly preacher Fred, who tries to help the couple find justice in an unjust world.

Best bit: Every moment that Hamilton Morris is on screen.  He is absolutely magnetic.

Temple Grandin (2010) DVD

DVD cover of Temple GrandinThis is the biopic of American scientist and animal behaviourist Temple Grandin, who has also become an advocate for autistic people in more recent times.  Growing up in a culture that doesn’t understand her autism, Temple (played by Claire Danes) is determined to forge a path in university as a young scientist.  Bullied by her mostly male peers, teachers and employers, Temple uses her gift of engineering and understanding animal behaviour to prove her worth as a talented scientist.

Best bit: Any of the scenes with Temple finding solace with horses or cows.  If you have a tender spot for animals, you’ll love just how she finds peace in their company.

Sing. 2 (2021) DVD

DVD Cover of Sing 2All the team are back in this sequel to the 2016 film of the same name.  Matthew McConaughey voices Buster Moon, the talent spotting koala determined to put on the best shows possible.  He takes his diverse team of talent to the big smoke to lay on an extravaganza, only to have to promise to get reclusive star Clay Calloway (a lion voiced by Bono) to join the show.  Each of the Sing crew have their own adventures and troubles in the big city and all have to work on their confidence before such a big audience.  Except perhaps Gunter (a pig, voiced by Nick Kroll) who never seems to have that problem.  A perfect movie for the whole family, it’s funny and entertaining while also having some amazing music.

Best bit:  The show-stopper at the end of course!

Venom. Let there be Carnage (2021) DVD

Eddie Brock and his symbiote Venom (both Tom Hardy) are back in this sequel and both seem to be in a downward spiral until they meet serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson, who is super creepy in this role) and accidentally infect him with symbiotic DNA as well, which creates the titular villain, Carnage.  If you enjoyed the first film, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one, it’s full of all the same kind of action and humour with a little extra Carnage thrown in.

Best bit: Venom’s relationship with bodega owner Mrs Chen.

My name is Gulpilil : this is my story of my story (2021) DVD

DVD cover of My Name is GulpililAn autobiographical documentary of late Aboriginal talent, David Gulpilil, created soon after his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer.  Right from the opening sequence, you’re treated to some beautiful cinematography and the enthralling story of the phenomenal life of Mr Gulpilil, who passed away in 2021.  Never one to shy away from the difficult topics, Mr Gulpilil covers his life on screen and off, his traditional upbringing in Arnhem Land, his years of addiction and his difficult relationships professionally and personally.

Best bit: That opening sequence as Mr Gulpilil walks with the emu is breathtakingly beautiful.

If you’d like to know what’s in our collection, you can go to our new DVD’s here, or check out Beamafilm and Kanopy.

I’d also love to hear your recommendations of films, TV series or documentaries from our collection in the comments below.

100 years of Ulysses: His Excellency Mr Peter Ryan in conversation

“Everybody knows now that Ulysses is the greatest novel of the century”

Anthony Burgess

The novel Ulysses by James Joyce is regarded as one of the great classic modernists works of the 20th century. It is often cited as one of the greatest works of literature ever and has even been described in some circles as the greatest work of fiction ever. It was published 100 years ago on the 2nd of February, which was also the date of Joyce’s fortieth birthday.

Ulysses is set over the course of one day  the 16th of June  in Dublin in 1904 and the book follows the encounters and interactions of Leopold Bloom. The 16th of June is now widely celebrated in Joyce circles across the world and called Bloomsday.  Ulysses is loaded with detail and rich characterisation and uses allusions, parodies, and puns galore and, as it progresses, imitates the styles of English literature at different periods. Throughout the novel Joyce draws parallels between the events in the book and Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey – indeed it is named after the poems hero protagonist Ulysses (Odysseus).

The book has had a checkered past – banned in many countries over claims of obscenity, due to the explicit nature of some passages. And there have been controversies as to which version of the text constitutes the definitive work.

To tie in with this global celebration we have teamed up with the Embassy of Ireland in New Zealand / Aotearoa to do a very special interview with His Excellency Mr Peter Ryan, Ambassador of Ireland to New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga  who talks about his passion for Ulysses and James Joyce, and highlights just a few of the 100th anniversary celebration events to be held here and around the world. You can listen to that interview below, or visit Wellington City Libraries’ Mixcloud collection here.

To celebrate this very special occasion, we have three copies of Joyce’s masterpiece, kindly donated by the Embassy of Ireland in New Zealand Aotearoa, to give away on Bloomsday – Thursday this week! To win a copy, snap a photo of a book by an Irish author that you have seen in our libraries and tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #wclbloomsday. The first three entries we receive on the day (Thursday 16 June) will win a copy of the book many have described as the greatest ever written. Too easy! This competition is open to Wellington residents and is only running on Thursday 16 June.

Ulysses / Joyce, James
“Following the events of one single day in Dublin, the 16th June 1904, and what happens to the characters Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly, Ulysses is a monument to the human condition. It has survived censorship, controversy and legal action, and even been deemed blasphemous, but remains an undisputed modernist classic: ceaselessly inventive, garrulous, funny, sorrowful, vulgar, lyrical and ultimately redemptive. It confirms Joyce’s belief that literature ‘is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man’. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Ulysses, James Joyce (ebook)
“James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is said to be one of the most important works in Modernist literature. It details Leopold Bloom’s passage through Dublin on an ordinary day: June 16, 1904. Causing controversy, obscenity trials and heated debates, Ulysses is a pioneering work that brims with puns, parodies, allusions, stream-of-consciousness writing and clever structuring. Modern Library ranked it as number one on its list of the twentieth century’s 100 greatest English-language novels and Martin Amis called it one of the greatest novels ever written”. (Overdrive description)

Ulysses / Joyce, James
“Presents a recording of the novel which describes the adventures and exploits of Leopold Bloom as he wanders through Dublin on a single day, June 16, 1904. Set within the context of Homer’s Odyssey, Joyce uses stream of consciousness as a literary device to illuminate the internal thoughts of Bloom, his wife, Molly, and other assorted characters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Ulysses / Kenner, Hugh
“With characteristic flair, Kenner explores the ways Joyce teaches us to read his novel as Joyce taught himself to write it: moving from the simple to the complex, from the familiar to the strange and new, from the norms of the nineteenth-century novel to the open forms of modernism.” (Catalogue)

 

Breach of all size : small stories on Ulysses, love and Venice
“This book bridges two anniversaries. Ulysses by James Joyce was published in 1922. Venice was founded in 421. The title Breach of All Size is Joyce’s pun on Venice landmark Bridge of Sighs but could as easily describe his sprawling modernist classic, which clocks in at 265,222 words. To celebrate both anniversaries, 36 Aotearoa writers were asked to write love stories set in Venice and inspired by words from Ulysses, but to steer the opposite course and keep them short. How short? 421 words, of course.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The James Joyce BBC Radio Collection, James Joyce (Audiobook)
Three BBC radio productions of major works by James Joyce Ulysses :In this full-cast dramatisation of Joyce’s epic modernist novel, the stories of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom combine as they meander through Dublin in the course of one day, 16 June 1904. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: An abridged reading of James Joyce’s autobiographical masterpiece portraying the adolescence of Stephen Dedalus, who must question the culture and religion of his native land before he can break free to become an artist. Dubliners This abridged collection of fifteen naturalistic tales depicts an array of characters from childhood, through adolescence, to maturity. Stories of love, loss, friendship, marriage, politics and family combine to create a unified world and a celebration of a city. and James Joyce – A Biography Gordon Bowker’s comprehensive study explores Joyce’s years spent in exile in Europe, and examines how his life shaped his genius.
(Adapted from Overdrive description)

New CDs for Te Awe: Part 2


via GIPHY

Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries (I also run the Libraries’ Wellington Music Facebook page). Every month my colleague Neil and I cast our eye over the new material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. We pick out some interesting titles across a range of music genres, and try to limit our reviews to a few lines only. Can we encapsulate an entire album in just a couple of lines? [Ed. This is probably unlikely at this point]. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? Read on to find out…

Nijimusi. / OOIOO
Mark: OOIOO are a long running Japanese Experimental noise-pop band. While previous album Gamel incorporated two metallophone players, this is (supposedly) a return to a more basic quartet of drums/bass/guitar & vocals. It sounds like a bunch of frenetic musical snippets, spoken-chanted Japanese singing, angular guitars, and muted trumpets all thrown together on top of serious drum grooves. If a musical stew of experimental, layered, polyrhythmic-avant-garde progressive jazz-rock sounds like something you would enjoy, then this is right in your musical wheelhouse. I have to admit that I find this entire genre just too much hard work. Maybe I am too old for this…

Neil: OOIOO is YoshimiO, the drummer from the avant-rock group Boredoms. Nijimusi is the eighth album under their guise of OOIOO. It is not for the unadventurous or faint hearted. The balance throughout the album is between chaos and structure, articulated through insistent, propulsive experimental rock. The repetitive, in the groove, drum patterns become meditative as they progress, and at points are punctuated by ritualistic chanting. As you listen from track to track, the album takes on a kind off shape shifting aura.

Aboogi. / Imarhan
Mark: The best world music manages to embraces traditions, while also being able to sound fresh and modern. Algerian band Imarhan deliver this once again with their second album, following 2018’s Temet. Bluesy guitar lines meld with Tuareg folksong and fantastic harmonies, evoking the primal feel of the desert; the swirling dust around campfires, the tensions and needs of people vs the natural elements of such a harsh environment. It’s a difficult line to walk; singing of the poverty and struggle of your people while also celebrating the richness of its cultural heritage. This album fuses the sound of modern rock to organic folk-lore traditions of lore and spoken word. Imarhan manage to create an album that feels like the soundtrack of a journey from disenfranchisement to hope, while also being just a great rock album.

Neil: ‘Aboogi is a complex, multi layered, Tuareg, desert blues album. The second from the Algerian based quintet, the tracks within it are uplifting, subtle and masterfully crafted with superb melodies and big catchy cords. This highly accomplished album has hope, wisdom and sadness all woven into the often-chilled songs. An album that will win fans old and new.

Sgt Culpepper. / Culpepper, Joel
Mark: Joel Culpepper is one of the artists helming the UK soul renaissance that has been bubbling over the last few years. Older than some of the other emerging artists, his full-length debut album ‘Sgt Culpepper’ was 10 years in the making. The time he spent developing his skills and reputation as a performer and songwriter clearly shows in this work. Full of top notch musicians, song writing and production; the instrumentation has plenty of horns & strings, lots of other layers, but also feels crisp. An amalgam of classic soul and modern attitude. While his voice has the elastic facility of classic soul artists like Marvin, Eddie Kendricks or Curtis Mayfield; the songs are grounded the realities of black life in the UK. Recommended.

Neil: ‘Sgt Culpepper’ is a modern soul funk release which aims high, so high in fact that its title plays off the legendary Beatles album. That said, the music stylistically has very little in common with the fab four; the work is more closely aligned to artists like Isaac Haynes or Prince. The overall sound of the album is a rich retro-future soul; simultaneously very 21st century, whilst referencing 70’s and 80’s artists. It is a very accomplished debut that succeeds in its aims.

The tipping point. / Tears For Fears
Mark: The popular 80s band return after 17 years with a new album. Their shiny 80s synth-pop always hid a spiritual and intellectual side (their name is inspired by psychologist Arthur Janov’s primal therapy), and the 10 year long gestation period of this album imbues the songs with the weighty melancholy of life events (the passing of Orzabal’s wife, health issues). Lush, elegant and perfectly crafted songs soar to anthemic heights, creating a cathartic and uplifting album. A great return.

Neil: In the eighties, Tears for Fears were one of the biggest bands out, however their music was always more than sparking synths and crafted melodies. Think of their first UK hit Mad World. This intimate emotional sensitivity has been evident throughout their career, and carries on through to this release. It is an emotionally balanced album, mixing moments of sadness and grief with acceptance and an uplifting spirit. This mature album that sounds very much like a culmination of their career, both emotionally and musically.

Wild loneliness. / Superchunk
Mark: Alternative rock stalwarts return for their twelfth album, which takes their music is a different direction. This one eschews the alternative rock and punk stylings of previous releases for a more openly acoustic and melodic sensibility. The power-pop guitars create a relaxed musical palette for them to provide a message of hope, as the songs push back against the pandemic, climate change fears and a world in crisis.

Neil: Fear and ambivalence are explored in indie band Superchunk’s twelfth outing. The album sounds like a band building on the lessons of their past, the D.I. Y. punk ethos of earlier albums is largely gone. In its place is a much more polished, fuzzy pop song sound with songs about environmental and societal collapse. It has been described as “bunker bedroom pop”, a term new to me but basically can be described as music to soothe you even if you know the World has gone to hell in a handbag. There are still hooks a plenty in there too; as well as strings, horns and acoustic guitars.

Wires turned sideways in time. / Marquiss, Duncan
Mark: This got a 9 out of 10 in Uncut. I had never heard of Marquiss before, but he is the guitarist in Scottish outfit The Phantom Band (we have their 2014 album Strange Friend). This, his debut solo album, is an electro-acoustic collage of acoustic sounds, treated pickings, drone-ish electronica and acoustic stringed pieces. The album has a reflective and cinematic feel, but it’s not background easy listening. It’s an album of intricate instrumentals with varying shades of tone and expression that pull you into the nuances of each track.

Neil: ‘Wires turned sideways in time’ is an ambient solo album by the Scottish indie outfit The Phantom Band’s guitarist Duncan Marquiss. Layers of textural guitar woven into minimalist drone, synth-electronic, elements form into a filmic, expansive landscape work that could easily be used as a film soundtrack. The result is still sharply focussed and engaging. Imagining Popol Vuh, the band doing a soundtrack for a film like Paris Texas, will give you some idea of the sonic delights in the album.

Love boredom bicycles. / Bakers Eddy
Mark: The debut album from Karori band Bakers Eddy, who are now based in Melbourne. Their debut has had a long gestation period, so a lot of these songs have been road tested live and through demos recorded over the Covid lockdown. The result is 35 minutes of pure fizzy pop-punk exuberance. Most of the songs barely clock in at 3 minutes and capture the raucous energy of youth, specifically the coming of age journey of moving to a new country to pursue their musical careers. While the music is relentlessly upbeat, full of hooks and catchy melodies, the lyrics are often in direct juxtaposition, revealing the struggles and uncertainty of the last couple of years, depression and heavy drinking.

Neil: Australian-based Wgtn. band Bakers Eddy release their debut album ‘Love boredom bicycles’. The resultant music is an exuberant, high-energy, soul of the party, indie-punk outing, resplendent with loads of infectiously catch hooks. Whilst there is nothing particularly ground breaking here, the album is still a joyous burst of punk energy fun, bouncy and full of sparking energy.

The overload. / Yard Act
Mark: New UK post-punks live up to the hype with a cracking debut album. Sinuous guitar lines and catchy grooves underpin a sardonic, playful and wry take on the lives of ordinary people in a post-Brexit UK. Full of acerbic barbs that skewer the establishment, and the kind of dry narration that made Dry Cleaning’s New long leg from last year so enjoyable.

Neil: ‘The overload’ is a wacky post punk debut album from British band Yard Act. It is full of tongue-in-cheek political anger, sometimes delivered straight up and sometimes inter-spliced with cut up surrealist inserts. There are touches of The Fall and Pulp in their approach. The albums lyrics are very of the moment, railing against the current political and social injustices in Britain.

Warm Chris. / Harding, Aldous
Mark: More sweetly charming psych-folk from Harding. This, her fourth album, is full of more imaginistic stories and oblique lyrics but the instrumentation is more minimal; a piano line here, a saxophone there, some occasional banjo. If you are vaguely familiar with who she is and have perhaps heard a few songs here and there, the extent of her overseas reputation may come as a surprise. One of the few NZ artists whose new albums generate reviews from the likes of Pitchfork (an 8.2 for this), The New York Times, The Guardian and NME among others. Her strange, playful, shifting voice, abstract lyrics and weird songs may all seem a bit insular, but she is one of those artists who require some patience until the complexity, pleasure & richness of her music unfolds for the listener.

Neil: ‘Warm Chris’ by New Zealand singer songwriter Aldous Harding has a beautiful and strange childlike curiosity behind many of the songs contained within it. The album is a soft and gentle; psychedelic folk outing, dense in places, charming in its use of free association in the lyrics. The songs build up in waves to form sparse and oblique arrangements. However, behind this seemingly laid-back approach is an incredibly carefully crafted album, both musically and lyrically. Overall, the album takes on the atmosphere of a finely honed piece of sonic abstract art.

To enjoy is the only thing. / Maple Glider
Mark: ‘To Enjoy Is The Only Thing’ is the debut album from Melbourne born-Uk based singer Tori Zeitsch. A wistful and hushed album of reflective indie-piano/folk, the songs weave through the debris of a failed relationship and an upbringing in a religious sect. Themes of isolation, loneliness and melancholy are explored through the lens of finding your own new identity and belief system. The dreamy, ethereal, intimate, chamber arrangements hide the strength of hard won resolutions. An impressive debut. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of Weyes Blood or Phoebe Bridges.

Neil: Maple Glider’s ‘To enjoy is the only thing’ is a gentle, sparse, hypnotic and introspective release about the ending of a relationship and the singer leaving her religious upbringing behind. At its core, the work is fundamentally about loneliness. The album has been described as threadbare folk, which only partially covers its substance. There is a confessional singer-songwriter aspect to the songs, like some of Joni Mitchell’s early works.

Metal bird. / Adams, Eve
Mark: Third album from this Oklahoma-LA based singer. Moody Americana-torch-songs very much in the nexus of Mazzy Star and a David Lynch movie. Full of woozy meditations on heartbreak and loss, surrounded by spare Noir-folk stylings. There’s an eerie, timeless melancholy to the album and her smoky voice. Haunting.

Neil: ‘Metal bird’ the third album from Eve Adams has best been described as Astral Americana: Americana with slide guitars and evocative vocals, but one that has wide screen cosmic intentions and nuances. Though spacey and unmoored from time and space, Eve Adams’ softly sung lyrics are often precisely and razor sharply honed, whilst the accompanying music is lo-fi, oblique and sparse. The work hovers simultaneously between what Oscar Wilde would describe as the gutter and the stars.

Box Set Pick:
Old friend : the deluxe collection (1976-1998). / Hyman, Phyllis
Mark: If you were to look up ‘Sophisticated elegance’ in a dictionary, there would probably be a picture of Phyllis Hyman as an illustration. The statuesque (6-foot-1) singer spent years singing in bands and clubs before Jazz drummer Norman Connors decided to include her vocals on one of his R&B collective albums, which went Gold, catapulting her career to new heights. She signed to Buddah records and recorded a couple of albums of smooth 70s ‘Quiet Storm’ soul that showcased her mesmerizing voice, but found the more commercial sound of Clive Davis’ Arista Records (who took over distribution of Buddah) more difficult to navigate. Post Arista she found critical & commercial success again in the late 80s, after she signed to the classic Philadelphia International Records. A talented actress also, she earned a Tony nomination for the Broadway musical ‘Sophisticated Ladies’, a tribute to Duke Ellington. She possessed a musical versatility & subtlety – the ability to bridge jazz, Soul, cabaret and black-pop as singer – but unfortunately struggled with mental health issues her whole life, when there were not a lot of support structures in place, suffering from bipolar disorder and depression for years and often self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. Sadly she took her own life in 1995, six days before her 46th birthday. This Cherry Red/SoulMusic comprehensive 9-CD box set collects her entire recorded output, and is a fitting testament to an exceptionally talented singer who always deserved more acclaim during her lifetime.

Neil: So, every month myself and my co conspirator Mark like to pick at least one retrospective box set release to round things off, not really to critically review it, more as an excuse to wax lyrical about how much we love the artist’s work. And so it is with Phyllis Hyman’s ‘Old Friend’. Phyllis Hyman is best known for her releases in the late 1970’s and her renaissance in the early 1990’s. If you are unfamiliar with her work, it can best be described as ultra smooth R & B with, “depending on the album”, elements of jazz, or on occasion disco-funk. Nearly all her work is marked by its sophistication and effortless glamour. Cool chic. She was the artist who paved the way for artists like Anita Baker and Whitney Houston. This extensive box set contains all her releases from the years 1976 to 1998.