“Here lies Arthur:” New Science Fiction & Fantasy

Sword In The Stone Disney GIF

Here lies Arthur, King that was, King that will be.”

― Thomas Malory

The myths legends and mysteries surrounding King Arthur and the knights of the round table have for a very long time held a particular fascination on the imagination of writers, artists and film makers.

The Arthurian legend has inspired films as varied as Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King , Monty Python and the Holy Grail,   King Arthur Legend of the sword starring Charlie Hunnam there is even a Scooby Doo adventure about the legend called Scooby-Doo! The Sword and the Scoob. And authors as diverse as Kazuo Ishiguro, Stephen King, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Bernard Cornwell, C. S. Lewis, T.H. White and John Steinbeck have all tied to pull out their own literary works from the fabled stone (to name but a few).

So, it is fabulous to see in this month’s list of recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles another author joining these illustrious ranks. Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian brings a fresh and new feminist reimagining of the Arthurian tale, whilst retaining much of the original source material such Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur at its core, pleasing both newbies and Arthurian buffs alike. For details of Half Sick of Shadows and our other selected recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles, please see below.

Half sick of shadows / Sebastian, Laura
” Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come — for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future. On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends — countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The stranding / Sawyer, Kate
“Ruth lives in the heart of the city. When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand. But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The crow folk / Stay, Mark
“As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny…Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch’s notebook. And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities. Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The weight of a thousand oceans / Webster, Jillian
“In a world where cities sprawl like half-submerged skeletons, Maia has spent her entire life hidden within the mountains of New Zealand. Her only companions being her ailing grandfather and a nomadic dog named Huck, Maia resents being alone. She spends her days wandering the ruins of a population long-gone, dreaming of a place where the few humans left behind can start again-a place her grandfather insists is a myth. But Maia cannot escape a strong and mysterious force calling her out into the world, as well as bizarre events following her around the island. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This fragile earth / Wise, Susannah
“Signy and Matthew lead a dull, difficult life. But they’re surviving, just about. Until the day the technology that runs their world stops working.  Matthew assumes that this is just a momentary glitch in the computers that now run the world. But then the electricity and gas are cut off. Even the water stops running. And the pollination drones – vital to the world, ever since the bees all died – are behaving oddly. People are going missing. Soldiers are on the streets. London is no longer safe. Determined to protect her son, Signy will do almost anything to survive as the world falls apart around them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Appleseed : a novel / Bell, Matt
“Eighteenth-century Ohio: two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they plan for a future of settlement and civilization. In the second half of the twenty-first century: climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world’s resources. In a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company’s original founders returns to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build. A thousand years in the future: North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier, and sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A psalm for the wild-built / Chambers, Becky
“It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Strange beasts of China / Yan, Ge
“In the fictional Chinese city of Yong’an, an amateur cryptozoologist is tasked with uncovering the stories of its fabled beasts, which draws her deep within a mystery that threatens her very sense of self.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Demon dog of American crime fiction”: New Crime and Mystery

 

 

Music Video Art GIF

In this month’s recently acquired crime, mystery, and detective novels we have a new work from James Ellroy, nicknamed the “Demon dog of American crime fiction.”

James Ellroy is one of the most accomplished, celebrated, and acclaimed modern crime writers around, known for his moral but often relentlessly pessimistic and complex style, which recently has incorporated his own tele grammatic prose, where he often omits connecting words leaving only short, staccato sentences, incorporating in the process his own version of drug vernacular, profanity, cop talk and jazz slang.

His own dark and very troubled past has definitely had a huge influence on Ellroy himself, both as an individual and his writing. His mother was brutally murdered when he was only ten and Ellroy struggled to come to terms with this immense tragedy (which he would eventually write about in his memoir My Dark Places). Dropping out of school, he abused both alcohol and drugs and suffered from intense clinical depression. Often homeless, he turned to petty crime, including shoplifting and housebreaking, eventually spending time in prison. After suffering from pneumonia which caused an abscess on his lung, he quit drinking. He then took up golf caddying which allowed him the time to pursue writing. His first detective book Brown’s Requiem is based partially around his caddying experiences. He quickly became a cult favourite and later with L.A. Quartet series of books both critical and commercial success would follow.  Widespread Panic is his most recent work. You can read further details of Widespread Panic along with our other selected Crime and Mystery titles below:

Widespread panic : a novel / Ellroy, James
“Freddy Otash is the man in the know and the man to know in Tinseltown. He operates with two simple rules–he’ll do anything but murder, and he’ll never work with commies. Freddy is a corrupt L.A. cop on the skids. He executed a cop killer named Horvath and it gores him. So Captain “Whiskey” Bill Parker cans him. Now, Freddy dons an array of new hats–sleazoid private eye, shakedown artist, matchmaker for Rock Hudson, pimp for President John F. Kennedy–and, most notably–the lead tipster and head strongarm goon for Confidential magazine.  In Widespread Panic we traverse the depths of ’50s L.A. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The second woman / Philby, Charlotte
“Artemis leaves the remote Greek island she grew up on to start a shiny new life in 1990s London with her British husband, a successful entrepreneur. Finally, she has escaped the ghosts of her past. Until she is found hanging from the stairs of her beautiful family home. Two decades later, the apparent suicide of an heiress uncannily mirrors Artemis’ mysterious death. And when the ensuing investigation uncovers links to a criminal cartel, National Crime Agency officer Madeleine Farrow begins to pull apart the web of deceit surrounding the two women.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The doll / Yrsa Sigurdardottir
“It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever. They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll is a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Farewell my herring / Tyler, L. C
“Ethelred Tressider and his agent Elsie Thirkettle have been invited to lecture on a creative writing course at Fell Hall, a remote location in the heart of ragged countryside that even sheep are keen to shun. While Ethelred’s success as a writer is distinctly average, Elsie sees this as an opportunity to scout for new, hopefully more lucrative, talent. But heavy snow falls overnight, trapping those early arrivals inside, and tensions are quick to emerge between the assembled group. When one of their number goes missing, Ethelred leads a search party and makes a gruesome discovery. With no phone signal and no hope of summoning the police, can Ethelred and Elsie identify the killer among them before one of them is next?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The truth-seeker’s wife / Granger, Ann
“It is spring 1871 when Lizzie Ross accompanies her formidable Aunt Parry on a restorative trip to the south coast. Lizzie’s husband, Ben, is kept busy at Scotland Yard and urges his wife to stay out of harm’s way. But when Lizzie and her aunt are invited to dine with other guests at the home of wealthy landowner Sir Henry Meager, and he is found shot dead in his bed the next morning, no one feels safe. On Lizzie’s last visit to the New Forest, another gruesome murder took place, and the superstitious locals now see her as a bad omen. And once Ben arrives to help with the investigation, he and Lizzie must work together to expose  dark secrets and a ruthless killer intent on revenge.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sleepless / Hausmann, Romy
“It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven–free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss–kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to refuse. The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer..”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Shadow over Edmund Street / Frankham, Suzanne
“Raised in a poverty-scarred part of Auckland, Edwina is a battler. Life revolves around the church and her mundane job unpacking vegetables. Meanwhile, a new generation has gentrified her suburb. After winning a gym membership, she loses weight, gets a new hairstyle, clothes, job – and makes a new friend, Rose. Edwina’s life is brutally taken, a swift and silent killer leaving no clues. Her murder seems unsolvable until a casual comment sends Inspector Alex Cameron and his seasoned team trawling through Edwina’s childhood. Can they uncover the link in time to save the next victim? Alex Cameron must unravel the shadow hanging over Edmund Street. Everyone and no one is a suspect, until…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The dying day / Khan, Vaseem
“For over a century, one of the world’s great treasures, a six-hundred-year-old copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, has been safely housed at Bombay’s Asiatic Society. But when it vanishes, together with the man charged with its care, British scholar and war hero, John Healy, the case lands on Inspector Persis Wadia’s desk. Uncovering a series of complex riddles written in verse, Persis – together with English forensic scientist Archie Blackfinch – is soon on the trail. But then they discover the first body. As the death toll mounts it becomes evident that someone else is also pursuing this priceless artefact and will stop at nothing to possess it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te Reo, tikanga, bees and mountains: recent New Zealand non-fiction (the eBook edition)

This book is about walking as a form of knowing. Armed with Ngāi Tahu’s traditional oral maps and modern satellite atlas, I crossed the Southern Alps more than a dozen times, trying to understand how our forebears saw the land. What did it mean to define your identity by sacred mountains, or actually see them as ancestors, turned to stone?

― Nic Low, Uprising: walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand

Kia ora e te whānau, we hope that you’re all doing well – especially as we start to open up our mirumiru (bubbles) again. Although our whare pukapuka (libraries) are open at Level 2, we’re taking precautions, and we still have heaps of eBooks (and audiobooks) that you can access through Overdrive and Borrowbox; today we have a selection of eBooks for you.

We’re sneakily including the revised fourth edition of Māori Place Names (added to our eBook collection at the end of last year and published in paperback in 2016), because Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is starting on Monday the 13th! Learning the ingoa (name) for where you live and how to pronounce it properly is a great way to build confidence in speaking Te Reo ― as well as for learning about the history of a place. Languages are always entwined with culture, and if you’d like to learn about Māori values and how to incorporate them into daily life, we reckon a great place to start will be with Tikanga: living with the traditions of te ao Māori, by Francis and Kaiora Tipene.

As well as heralding the start of Mahuru Māori (on the 7th i tēnei tau), September is also Bee Aware Month ― a time for raising awareness about Aotearoa’s ngaro huruhuru (native bees) and pī mīere (honey bees), and the critical roles they play in the ecosystem. The pukapuka Healthy bee, sick bee focuses on the introduced honey bee and their wellbeing, including sections on viruses, pesticides, pathogens and the future of bee health.

We’re really excited to read Nic Low’s beautiful pukapuka, Uprising: walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Low’s journeys across Kā Tiritiri o te Moana (the Southern Alps) brings him closer to both his Ngāi Tahu and Pākehā heritage, and he wonders what if “New Zealand’s walking culture had developed with Māori still owning the land? What kind of hybrid traditions might have emerged if Kemp’s Deed had been honoured, the mahika kai preserved?” If you’re stuck on the waitlist for this one, you can always read an extract from Uprising over on E-Tangata.

Some other pukapuka to check out are Tūrangawaewae: identity & belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand, an award winning collection of essays that is now available as an eBook; and Te Papa to Berlin: the making of two museums ― for all you wonderful GLAM sector nerds out there (GLAM = galleries, libraries, archives and museums).

Māori place names : their meanings and origins / Reed, A. W. (eBook)
“Pronounce and understand Maori place names with the new fourth edition of A.W. Reed’s classic guide to meanings and origins of names across New Zealand. From Ahaura to Whitianga, this handily sized book is the definitive guide to the most common and notable Maori names on our land. Why do Whangarei, Tauranga, Motueka and Timaru have the names they do? Why all the fuss about the spelling of Whanganui and Rimutaka? What are the original names for Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin?” (Catalogue)

Tikanga : living with the traditions of te ao Māori / Tipene, Francis and Kaiora (eBook)
“Following on from their bestseller, Life as a Casketeer, Francis and Kaiora Tipene share how they bring the values of tikanga Māori into day-to-day living, what they know about whānau, mahi and manaakitanga, and how they live a life rich with the concepts of te ao Māori. Known for their warm hearts, grace and humour, the stars of the wildly popular series The Casketeers show how tikanga shapes their lives as they juggle five sons, three businesses and a television show.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Healthy bee, sick bee : the influence of parasites, pathogens, predators and pesticides on honey bees / Lester, Phil (eBook)
“Entomologist Phil Lester explores the wonderfully complex and sometimes brutally efficient life history of honey bees, and the problems they face in New Zealand and around the globe. What causes a beehive to collapse? Are pesticides as big a problem as they appear? What can we do to improve the health of our honey bees? With intelligence, insight and jokes, Healthy Bee, Sick Bee tells the story of this much-loved little insect and offers new ways of thinking about their future survival.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Uprising : walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand / Low, Nic (eBook)
“Raised in the shadow of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Nic Low grew up on mountain stories from his family’s European side. Years later, a vision of the Alps in a bank of storm clouds sparked a decade-long obsession with comprehending how his Māori ancestors knew that same terrain. Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana, the Alps, form the backbone of Ngāi Tahu’s territory; far from being virgin wilderness, the area was named and owned long before Europeans arrived and the struggle for control of the land began.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tūrangawaewae : identity & belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand / ed. Cain, Trudie and Ella Kahu (eBook)
“What is a New Zealander? What does it mean to be a citizen of or a resident in this country? How do we understand what makes New Zealand complex, and unique? And what creates a sense of belonging and identity, both here and in the world? Written for university students, this book will appeal to anyone interested in where we have come from and where we are headed. It’s a book for active participants in Aotearoa New Zealand and in global society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te Papa to Berlin : the making of two museums / Gorbey, Ken (eBook)
“For 15 years Ken Gorbey was involved with developing and realising the revolutionary cultural concept that became Te Papa Tongarewa. Then in 1999 he was headhunted by W. Michael Blumenthal to salvage the Jewish Museum Berlin. This book is a lively insider perspective about cultural identity and nation building, about how museums can act as healing social instruments by reconciling dark and difficult histories, and about major shifts in museum thinking and practice.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Staff Pick Films – Kanopy & Beamafilm

A selection of Staff Picks movies and documentaries from our website’s DVD pages; these films are all now available on the library’s two online streaming platforms, Beamafilm & Kanopy.

Herb & Dorothy – Beamafilm
You cannot dislike this. Herb is a postal worker, Dorothy is a librarian in New York City and they are art collectors – very serious contemporary art collectors. Who would think that this ordinary (and not cool) looking couple owned more than 4000 pieces of art works mostly minimal or conceptual arts? Amazingly these variable works are somehow stored in their cramped one room apartment where they live with turtles, goldfish and a cat. They have no proper ‘Art’ education, but when this couple face art works, their eyes start glowing and get very serious as if they are hunting dogs. Their collection became so significant it was gifted to the national Gallery of Art (so they are not for money). It is an obsessive passion but utterly charming. Above all, this is the story of this extraordinary couple who complement each other. (Shinji)

The white ribbon – Beamafilm
‘The White Ribbon’ is another subversive jewel in the aloof crown of Michael Haneke, disturbed creator of other choice picks Hidden, The piano teacher and the nicely bleak The seventh Continent. It’s shot beautifully in black and white, the acting is unobtrusively spot-on and the narrative offers gradual hints that build real force and tension. To complete the compellingly grim picture I must list the themes that make one squirm – the destruction of innocence, the abuse of parental power, fascism in its many forms, violence and death. ‘The White Ribbon’ creeps its way into your subconscious and despite your best mental efforts, lingers. Scene by scene, I had the strong sense that I was involved in something significant. You may want to watch this film again. (Monty)

Scott Walker: 30 century man – Beamafilm
I enjoy music docos and have recently found a new stash of them at the end of the CD aisles under ‘Music Biographies’. There are some goodies there, one of which is this excellent film about Scott Walker. The penny finally dropped for me as to why he is considered by so many to be a living legend. His journey from 60’s pop icon, as one of the Walker Brothers, to reclusive avant-garde sound sculptor is explored and held together with excerpts from Walker’s first agreed to interview in thirty years. This is a peek inside the creative mind and it is fascinating to glimpse, amongst other things, the humour that accompanies the creation of such intense songwriting – that is if you happen to agree with Walker that his creations can actually be called songs. (John)

Continue reading “Staff Pick Films – Kanopy & Beamafilm”

Lockdown Distractions: Pressreader

Media Press GIF

A world of free newspapers and magazines awaits you at your fingertips, with our online Pressreader service which gives you same day access to full-page replicas of newspapers & magazines from Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world in 60+ languages, and featuring  more than 7,000 of the world’s best publications.

This amazing free online collection of electronic magazines and newspapers spans the globe. The selection of newspapers goes from our very own Otago Daily Times to The Phnom Penh Post from the Shanghai Daily to Le Figaro .The newspaper selection is staggering and regularly updated.

The range of magazines, in both subject and languages, is equally impressive from the digital art magazine ImagineFX to The New Zealand Listener  from Beyond Gender to the French cat lovers magazine Félins pour l’autre. From magazines about animals & pets, music & cars, crafts & hobbies, boats & aircraft to magazines about cinema, television, computers and all points in-between,  there is something fascinating to read on that subject in Pressreader.

To access this fabulous free Library Lockdown Distraction all you need is a valid library card. Click here to go straight to our Pressreader resource.

Inside story, tales of people’s lives

Truth is stranger than fiction… these tales are shockingly, delightfully and intriguingly true. Access our online resources for your invitation into the lives of people well and lesser known. Accounts of the crew who survived the mutiny on the Bounty are delivered by a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian in Men Without Country. Boy on Fire is Nick Cave’s creation story and here in Aotearoa people look on their place in our community through lives framed by tragedy and courage, discussing the problematic and delightful aspects of life.

These titles are available through Libby/Overdrive and Borrowbox; download the apps to play or read on a compatible device or listen and read online. Enjoy!

cover imageBoy on Fire : The Young Nick Cave / Mark MordueRead by James O’Connell
Boy on Fire is a fascinating social and cultural biography, a vivid and evocative rendering of the people, time and places that went into the making of Nick Cave – from the fast-running dark river and ghost gums of Wangaratta and the punk scene that hit staid 1970s Melbourne like an atom bomb, right through to the torn wallpaper, sticky carpet and manic energy of nights at St Kilda’s Crystal Ballroom.” (BorrowBox)

Overdrive cover Men Without Country, Harrison Christian (ebook)
A mission to collect breadfruit from Tahiti becomes the most famous mutiny in history when the crew rise up against Captain William Bligh. Lives dominated by a punishing regime of hard work and scarce rations, and deeply divided by the hierarchy of class. It is a tale of adventure and exploration punctuated by moments of extreme violence – towards each other and the people of the South Pacific. Christian provides a comprehensive and compelling account of the whole story – from the history of trade and exploration in the South Seas to Pitcairn Island, which provided the mutineers’ salvation, and then became their grave. (Overdrive description)

cover imageHusna’s Story : My wife, the Christchurch Massacre & My Journey to Forgiveness / Farid Ahmed Read by Hazem Shammas
“The couple had been praying when a gunman burst into the mosque. He shot and killed 51 people that day and injured many others. In this audiobook Husna’s husband, Farid Ahmed, tells Husna’s story, including the day of the attack. Farid describes the selflessness and bravery with which Husna lived her life. Husna’s husband, quite remarkably, forgives the alleged killer. Farid’s philosophy of forgiveness, peace and love is an example of how faith and humanity can be tools for navigating even the most horrific of tragedies.” (BorrowBox)

cover imageGotta Get Theroux This : My life and strange times in television / Louis TherouxRead by Louis Theroux
“In 1994 fledgling journalist Louis Theroux was given a one-off gig on Michael Moore’s TV Nation. Gawky, socially awkward and totally unqualified, his first reaction to this exciting opportunity was panic. But he’d always been drawn to off-beat characters, so maybe his enthusiasm would carry the day. Or, you know, maybe it wouldn’t . . . Filled with wry observation and self-deprecating humour, this is Louis at his most insightful and honest best. The audio edition contains an exclusive additional chapter.” (BorrowBox)

Overdrive cover Where We Swim, Ingrid Horrocks (ebook)
Where We Swim ranges from solitary swims in polluted rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand, to dips in pools in Arizona and the Peruvian Amazon, and in the ocean off Western Australia and the south coast of England. Part memoir, part travel and nature writing, this generous and absorbing book is about being a daughter, sister, partner, mother, and above all a human being living among other animals on this watery planet. (Overdrive description)

 

cover imageA Conversation With My Country / Alan DuffRead by Alan Duff
“A fresh, personal account of New Zealand, now, from one of our hardest-hitting writers. Returned from living in France, he views his country with fresh eyes, as it is now: homing in on the crises in parenting, our prisons, education and welfare systems and a growing culture of entitlement that entraps Pakeha and Maori alike. Never one to shy away from being a whetstone on which others can sharpen their own opinions, Alan tells it how he sees it.” (BorrowBox)

Overdrive cover
The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line
, Mari K. Eder (ebook)
The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line are the heroes of the Greatest Generation that you hardly ever hear about. These women who did extraordinary things didn’t expect thanks and shied away from medals and recognition. Despite their amazing accomplishments. Retired U.S. Army Major General Mari K. Eder wrote this book because she knew their stories needed to be told—and the sooner the better. For theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come.  (Overdrive description)

cover imageThe Last Days of John Lennon / James PattersonRead by Matthew Wolf, K.C. Clyde
“Enriched by exclusive interviews with Lennon’s friends and associates, including Paul McCartney, The Last Days of John Lennon is a true-crime drama about two men who changed history. One whose indelible songs enliven our world to this day, and the other who ended the music with five pulls of a trigger.” (BorrowBox)

 

 

 

Lockdown Distractions: eLibrary materials

 

book GIF

For our latest Library Lockdown Distraction, we are pointing our search light at our most popular, free online lockdown distraction –  Overdrive/ Libby (Libby is Overdrive’s simplified site and app).

We have several other free electronic eBooks, eAudiobook and eMagazine services, including:

PressReader: Same day access to full-page replicas of newspapers & magazines from NZ and around the world in 60+ languages.

BorrowBox: eAudiobooks & eBooks (mainly eAudiobooks) from Australia’s leading provider — over 3500 titles

Bridget Williams Books: Over thirty years of award-winning NZ history and social issues publishing from Bridget Williams Books, in four collections.

However, Overdrive / Libby is our largest free electronic eBook, eComic, eAudiobook and eMagazine collection with over 50,000 titles available. There is a wealth of wonderful content contained within this electronic wonder; it almost goes without saying that there is enough thrills, spills, entertainment, education, and enlightenment contained within this site for years of distraction and it is constantly updated. It also has specially curated lists and easy to follow introductory videos for newbies.

The service is aimed at the very widest possible library audience from pre-schoolers to  adults, from fans of Peppa Pig to scholars of the works of Yuval Noah Harari ( and all points in-between). By design it has something for everyone, and in the widest variety of e-formats. All you need to access this vast free resource is a valid library card. Below is a selection of just eight totally unconnected titles which we hope will illustrate this fabulous service’s diversity and depth.

 

Overdrive cover Peppa Pig’s Family Computer, Peppa Pig (ebook)
“Mummy Pig is working at home on the family computer but Peppa and George want to play ‘Happy Mrs Chicken’. Can Daddy Pig come to the rescue and fix the frozen computer? Read more in this charming piggy tale.” (Overdrive description)

 

 

Overdrive cover Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari (Audiobook)
“Yuval Noah Harari envisions a near future in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century and beyond – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: how can we protect this fragile world from our own destructive power? And what does our future hold?”(Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover The Infinity Gauntlet, Jim Starlin (ebook)
“Collects Infinity Gauntlet (1991) #1-6. The Mad Titan Thanos has seized control of Infinity Gauntlet and with it near-omnipotent power! Who can stop this deadly new overlord? All of Marvel’s top heroes star in this epic of cosmic proportions!” (Overdrive description)

 

 

Overdrive cover National Geographic Magazine, undefined (Magazine)
“Amazing discoveries and experiences await you in every issue of National Geographic magazine. The latest news in science, exploration, and culture will open your eyes to the world’s many wonders.” (Overdrive description)

 

 

Overdrive cover The Fall of Light, Sarah Laing (ebook)
“Rudy is a successful architect, but life is not as happy as it should be. His work leaves him artistically frustrated, his wife and two young daughters have moved out of the house he designed for them, and his pushy young associate is vying for design supremacy. When a Vespa accident puts him into hospital and forces him to recuperate at home, he looks in danger of losing everything, but it is then that his repressed artistic yearnings start to make their presence felt, not just in the glass creations he begins to craft, but also in his strange, vivid dreams.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover North & South, undefined (Magazine)
“North & South is New Zealand’s premier monthly current affairs and lifestyle magazine, specialising in long-form investigative journalism, delivered by award-winning writers and photographers. North & South also showcases New Zealand ingenuity and creativity, explores the country and profiles its people. It is a touchstone of New Zealand life.” (Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea, T K Roxborogh (ebook)
“On a beach clean-up, thirteen-year-old one-legged Charlie and his half-brother, Robbie, find a ponaturi – a mermaid – washed up on a beach. An ancient grudge between the Maori gods Tane and Tangaroa has flared up because a port being built in the bay is degrading the ocean and creatures are fleeing the sea. This has reignited anger between the gods, which breaks out in storms, earthquakes and huge seas. The human world and realm of the gods are thrown into chaos.”  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien (Audiobook)
“Dwarves, elves, goblins, trolls, dragons and wizards – these are the ingredients of J.R.R. Tolkien’s wonderful fantasy. The hero of the tale is Bilbo Baggins, a home-loving unambitious hobbit who is suddenly thrust into what turns out to be the biggest adventure of his life. Guided by Gandalf the wizard, Bilbo and a company of dwarves set out to destroy Smaug the Magnificent, a ferocious dragon who guards a treasure hoard. Their journey contains many dangers, and in facing them the reluctant Bilbo’s great resourcefulness and courage surprises everyone – not least himself!” (adapted from Overdrive description)

“It was a simple plan…” Exciting crime thrillers from our DVD collection.

Here are some old reviews (from 2006!) of classic crime movies from our DVD collection. that we dug up from our old webpages. We still have these titles on DVD because they are not currently available on streaming platforms. And because they’re still awesome!

To live and die in L.A.
Fans of CSI’s William L. Peterson (Grissom) may well be surprised by this 1985 movie, based on the novel, by former Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich. Peterson plays Richard Chance an arrogant & cocky Secret Service agent on the trail of a ruthless counterfeiter (one of Willem Dafoe’s best roles). When Peterson’s mentor, a fellow agent about to retire, is killed by Dafoe, he becomes obsessed with bringing down the clever counterfeiter- and will do anything to do it. Directed by William Friedkin (French Connection) this cynical, yet thoroughly entertaining movie blurs the line between the law enforcement officers & the criminals, as Peterson’s character is prepared to do anything from manipulating his informant (Debra Feuer), corrupting his new rookie partner (John Pankow), stealing, & even murder to get the job done. Features one of the greatest car chases ever filmed – going the wrong way up a freeway in rush hour traffic – and a bleakly cynical ending.

Wild things
Can lurid trash ever be raised to an art form? If so this movie probably comes closer than anything else. Matt Dillon is a high-school guidance-counsellor Sam Lombardo in humid Blue Bay, South Florida. When two students turn up to wash his car for a charity drive things take the first of many turns when one of them, (Denise Richards) accuses him of rape. Soon he’s shunned by the town, fired from his job, sent pacing by his rich fiancé, & harassed by Kevin Bacon – the cop investigating the rape. Soon another girl (Neve Campbell) a white trash swamp dweller comes forward to say he raped her as well. Desperate he hires a shyster lawyer (a scene stealing Bill Murray) and the case heads to trial – where the twists start to begin. What follows is so convoluted that it’s not even worth going into, suffice to say that it involves a series of twists that you really won’t see coming. A weird cross between a soap-opera, a 50’s B-movie Film, it’s filled with amazing over the top performances, catfights and cameos. Somewhat infamous for the ‘three-way’ scene hallway through the movie, it’s actually so entertaining that even without it, it would be a classic. Don’t miss the end credits – which include scenes that cleverly explain all that has gone before. A very guilty pleasure.

Continue reading ““It was a simple plan…” Exciting crime thrillers from our DVD collection.”

New on our shelves: Fashion & beauty

Refresh your wardrobe and get some spring style inspiration with our latest fashion and beauty update. We have new books on mending and upcycling your clothing, to help you make the most out of the clothes you already own, as well as a Breakfast at Tiffany’s style guide to help you channel a little Holly Golightly into your daily life. We also have a brand new style guide especially for men and the 40th anniversary eBook edition of the iconic Cheap Chic, as well as an in-depth look at the style and clothing of well-known artists.

What artists wear / Porter, Charlie
“Most of us live our lives in our clothes without realizing their power. But in the hands of artists, garments reveal themselves. They are pure tools of expression, storytelling, resistance and creativity: canvases on which to show who we really are. In What Artists Wear, style luminary Charlie Porter takes us on an invigorating, eye-opening journey through the iconic outfits worn by artists, in the studio, on stage, at work, at home and at play. What Artists Wear is both a manual and a manifesto, a radical, gleeful, inspiration to see the world anew-and find greater pleasure and possibility in the clothes we all wear.” (adapted from catalogue)

All made up : the power and pitfalls of beauty culture, from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian / Nudson, Rae
“A fascinating journey through history and culture, examining how makeup affects self-empowerment, how people have used it to define (and defy) their roles in society. There is a history and a cultural significance that comes with wearing cat-eye-inspired liner or a bold red lip even if we don’t realize exactly why. Increasingly, people of all genders are wrestling with what it means to be a woman living in a patriarchy, and part of that is how looking like a woman—whatever that means—affects people’s real lives. This book also holds space for other factors, especially the ways that beauty standards differ across race, class, and culture.” (adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s : the official guide to style : over 100 fashion, decorating, and entertaining tips to bring out your inner Holly Golightly / Jones, Caroline
“In the iconic 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly was the original metropolitan It Girl. Tapping into Holly’s timeless style and effortless sense of cool, this book highlights rules and guidelines for bringing the look, feel, and spirit of Breakfast at Tiffany’s into your everyday life. With chapters on fashion, grooming, décor, entertaining, and more, this book includes curated looks, tips, and advice for all women, providing the tools we need to embrace the Holly Golightly inside us.” –Amazon.com.” (adapted from catalogue)

Make thrift mend : stitch, patch, darn, plant-dye & love your wardrobe / Rodabaugh, Katrina
“Slow fashion influencer Katrina Rodabaugh follows her bestselling book, Mending Matters, with a comprehensive guide to building (and keeping) a wardrobe that matters. Whether you want to repair your go-to jeans, refresh a favorite garment, thrift-shop like a pro, or dye, tailor, and reinvent clothing you already have–this book has all the know-how you’ll need. Woven throughout are stories, essays, and a slow fashion call-to-action, encouraging readers to get involved or deepen their commitment to changing the destructive habit of overconsumption.” (adapted from catalogue)

Vain glorious : a shameless guide for men who want to look their best / Langmead, Jeremy
“Should I tint my eyebrows? How can I get a squarer jawline? Which style of trouser would make my legs look longer? Leading lifestyle columnist and magazine editor, Jeremy Langmead, has men constantly asking him for answers to these questions and more. Here, he teams up with Harley Street aesthetic doctor David Jack to lift the lid on all the anti-ageing and beauty secrets now available for men. Vain Glorious is an honest and practical guide to help men feel comfortable in their own skin”–Publisher’s description.” (adapted from catalogue)

Dressed : fashionable dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840-1910 / Regnault, Claire
“This illustrated social history explores the creation, consumption and spectacle of fashionable dress in Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand’s 19th century dress culture was heavily shaped by international trends and interactions with Māori, the demands of settler lifestyle and the country’s geographical and environmental conditions. Dressed shows dresses and fashionable accessories from museums around Aotearoa New Zealand”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Title details for Mend! by Kate Sekules - AvailableMend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto, by Kate Sekules
“A hands-on manual and a history and celebration of clothes tending—and its remarkable resurgence as art form, political statement, and path to healing the planet.Kate Sekules introduces the art of visible mending as part of an important movement to give fashion back its soul. Part manifesto, part how-to, MEND! calls for bold new ways of keeping clothes and refreshing your style. Crammed with tips, fun facts, ravishing photography, and illustrated tutorials, MEND! tells you exactly how to rescue and renew your wardrobe with flair and aplomb—and save money along the way.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Title details for Cheap Chic by Caterine Milinaire - Available

Cheap Chic: Hundreds of Money-Saving Hints to Create Your Own Great Look, by Caterine Milinaire & Carol Troy
“Before there were street-style blogs and ‘zines, there was Cheap Chic. Astonishingly relevant forty years later, Cheap Chic provides timeless practical advice for creating an affordable, personal wardrobe strategy: what to buy, where to buy it, and how to put it all together to make your own distinctive fashion statement without going broke. Inspiring decades of fashion lovers and designers, Cheap Chic is the original fashion bible that proves you don’t have to be wealthy to be stylish.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

eBook Temptations

Recently added to our Overdrive collection of eBooks is a selection of well-known prize winning authors and debut novel writers. Lionel Shriver tackles the question of mortality in a carousel of possibilities facing an aging couple. First time novel from Emily Austin utilises warmth and deadpan humour, as her morbid, queer, atheist protagonist stumbles from an advertised church therapy session into unexpected ecclesiastical employment as she searches for answers on how to live with death. Our other first time author, Gustaf Skordeman, introduces a Swedish police detective Sara Nowak. This juggernaut of a thriller calls the reader to question all versions of the truth.

The question of what really matters in life comes to us from Japan 1937, in the first time english translation of How do you live? Author Genzaburo Yoshino takes a young man on a journey of discovery.  Becky Chambers’ new Monk and robot series ventures into this territory asking, “in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?”

And so close to Mary Shelley’s birthday is a rendition of the gruelling eleven days it took to produce her. Told from the perspective of Mary Wollstonecraft’s midwife, Love and Fury, details the constraints and prejudices of the late 18th century.  Explore the renown and newly discovered with your library card. Enjoy!

Overdrive cover Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead, Emily Austin (ebook)
“Meet Gilda. She cannot stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her anxious mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church and finds herself abruptly hired to replace the deceased receptionist Grace. A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration – and the expiration of those you love – is the only certainty”.  (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover How Do You Live?, Genzaburo Yoshino (ebook)
“Publishing in English for the very first time, Japan’s beloved coming of age classic on what really matters in life. The streets of Tokyo swarm below fifteen year-old Copper as he gazes out into the city of his childhood. Struck by the thought of the infinite people whose lives play out alongside his own, he begins to wonder, how do you live? Considering life’s biggest questions for the first time, Copper turns to his dear uncle for heart-warming wisdom. As the old man guides the boy on a journey of philosophical discovery, a timeless tale unfolds, offering a poignant reflection on what it means to be human”.  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers (ebook)
It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honour the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.  But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Should We Stay or Should We Go, Lionel Shriver (ebook)
“Both healthy and vital medical professionals in their early fifties, Kay and her husband Cyril have seen too many of their elderly NHS patients in similar states of decay. Determined to die with dignity, Cyril makes a modest proposal: they should agree to commit suicide together once they’ve both turned eighty. Weaving in a host of contemporary issues – Brexit, mass migration, the coronavirus – Lionel Shriver has pulled off a rollicking page-turner in which we never have to mourn deceased characters, because they’ll be alive and kicking in the very next chapter.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Love and Fury, Samantha Silva (ebook)
“August, 1797. Midwife Parthenia Blenkinsop has delivered countless babies, but nothing prepares her for the experience that unfolds when she arrives at Mary Wollstonecraft’s door. Over the eleven harrowing days that follow, as Mrs. Blenkinsop fights for the survival of both mother and newborn. Wollstonecraft’s urgent story of loss and triumph forms the heartbreakingly brief intersection between the lives of a mother and daughter who will change the arc of history and thought”. (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Yield, Tara June Winch (ebook)
“The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha. Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land.”  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Geiger, Gustaf Skördeman (ebook)
“The landline rings as Agneta is waving off her grandchildren. Just one word comes out of the receiver: ‘Geiger’… For decades, Agneta has always known that this moment would come, but she is shaken. She knows what it means. Retrieving her weapon from its hiding place, she attaches the silencer and creeps up behind her husband before pressing the barrel to his temple. The extraordinary murder is not Sara Nowak’s case. But she was once close to those affected and, defying regulations, she joins the investigation. What Sara doesn’t know is that the mysterious codeword is just the first piece in the puzzle of an intricate and devastating plot fifty years in the making.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Songbirds, Christy Lefteri (ebook)
“Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.
Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes. No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.”  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Personal Librarian, Marie Benedict (ebook)
“A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.  The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy.” (Overdrive description)

 

 

Local Fascinations

While we have time to investigate and contemplate our homes, backyards and local walks, we notice things our eyes and minds may usually gloss over. Our online catalogue has some great aids for this new burst of exploration.

From things that creep to those that take flight, creatures that flash across our sight are beautiful or mundane.  The selections below begin on the subject of the housefly, ubiquitous, annoying and a doorway into the world of small winged insects. Onto a fragile beauty, the mirror image wings that delight to inspiration in encouraging our birdlife. Almost unnoticed, New Zealand reptiles and amphibians might reward some searching a little more deeply into their local environment. Transform your living space at home if it’s all getting a little too familiar, and delve into to some home projects, brewing up a new delight or renew some well-worn favourites.

There’s a bumper store of knowledge available through your online access to our eBook, downloadable Audiobook and eMagazine collection, visit our eLibrary page to discover more.

Overdrive cover Super Fly, Jonathan Balcombe (ebook)
In Super Fly, the myth-busting biologist Jonathan Balcombe shows the order Diptera in all of its diversity, illustrating the essential role that flies play in every ecosystem in the world as pollinators, waste-disposers, predators, and food source; and how flies continue to reshape our understanding of evolution. No matter your outlook on our tiny buzzing neighbors, Super Fly will change the way you look at flies forever. (adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover The Language of Butterflies, Wendy Williams (ebook)
They are smarter than we think – some species have learned to fool ants into taking care of them. What draws us to these creatures so intensely? Science journalist Wendy Williams investigates butterflies across the globe, their habitats and those dedicated to studying them. She examines the ancient partnership between butterflies and humans, and the ways we depend on them today – from a bellwether on climate change to a source of life-saving medical technology. (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand, Dylan van Winkel (ebook)
Illustrated with photography, this is the definitive field guide to all of New Zealand’s tuatara, geckos, skinks, frogs, marine turtles and marine snakes. New Zealand’s list of reptiles and amphibians is growing with new discoveries, even as 80 per cent of species are at risk of extinction. This will be the only field guide to cover all currently recognised reptiles and amphibians and will become a go-to book for anyone interested in New Zealand’s unique wildlife. (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Nature’s Best Hope, Douglas W. Tallamy (ebook)
Douglas W. Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, awakened thousands of readers to an urgent situation: wildlife populations are in decline because the native plants they depend on are fast disappearing. His solution? Plant more natives. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Design a Healthy Home, Oliver Heath (ebook)
The ideas and solutions included in this book have been devised with easy implementation in mind. Optimise lighting in your home by using reflective surfaces for a brighter space, follow a ventilation checklist to replenish the air in your home and remove pollutants, or unlock the powers of a tech-free bedroom for a better night’s sleep. Introducing colour, pattern and texture to your home, adapting and creating zones, as well as bringing the outdoors in and maintaining your houseplants. (Publisher’s description)

Overdrive cover Loved Clothes Last, Orsola de Castro (ebook)
This book will equip you with a myriad of ways to mend, re-wear and breathe new life into your wardrobe to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. By teaching you to scrutinise your shopping habits and make sustainable purchases, she will inspire you to buy better, care more and reduce your carbon footprint by simply making your loved clothes last longer. Following Orsola’s practical tips to lavish care and attention on the clothes you already own will not only have a positive environmental impact, but will be personally rewarding too. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Kombucha & Co, Felicity Evans (ebook)
Kombucha and other fermented drinks are great for gut health, but they’re expensive to buy and you can’t be sure of the quality. But it’s easy to make your own kombucha when you know how. From kombucha to kefir, ginger beer to honey mead, learn to confidently make your own fermented drinks and transform your health from within. Fermentation guru Felicity Evans has you covered with step-by-step instructions to make a range of 50 delicious flavours of gut-friendly probiotic drinks, including troubleshooting tips and inspiration for alcohol-free happy hour at home.  (Overdrive description)

 

 

 

The Literary Legacy of Max Cryer

Max Cryer was many things in his life: a television personality, a musician, and a notable author. Some of his favourite topics to write about were cats and the history of words and phrases, especially New Zealand words. In honour of Cryer’s recent passing at the age of 86, here is a round-up of some of his most notable books:

The Godzone dictionary of favourite New Zealand words and phrases / Cryer, Max
“The Godzone Dictionary is a concise A – Z of the words and phrases that make our New Zealand language and speech patterns so different. Language expert Max Cryer examines a wide range of words and phrases, shedding light on their origin and offering helpful definitions. Slang words and expressions feature heavily, while one of the unique features of this book is the large number of Māori words that have become part of our common language in recent years.”–Publisher information.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Curious English words and phrases : the truth behind the expressions we use / Cryer, Max
“‘Cloud nine’, ‘at the drop of a hat’, ‘spitting image’, ‘mollycoddle’, ‘rigmarole’, ’round robin’, ‘spill the beans’, ‘kick the bucket’, ‘balderdash’ and ‘touch wood’. There are so many curious words and phrases that we often use and yet haven’t you ever wondered why we say them, where they come from and what they mean? Written by language expert Max Cryer, Curious Words and Phrases has all the answers behind some of the most interesting and perplexing words and expressions in the English language.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

The cat’s out of the bag : truth and lies about cats / Cryer, Max
“In this book Max Cryer celebrates cats and all they have given to us. He describes the many words and expressions they have inspired, from ‘catnip’ and ‘catwalk’ to ‘the cat’s whiskers’ and ‘raining cats and dogs’, as well as famous cat characters like Garfield, Felix the Cat, The Cat in the Hat and Puss in Boots, songs as varied as ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ and ‘The Cats’ Duet’, and poems like ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’. In other chapters he explores cats’ attributes, the strength of their night vision and sense of smell, their sleep requirements, life expectancy and much more.”–Publisher information”. (adapted from catalogue)

 

Is it true? : the facts behind the things we have been told / Cryer, Max
“In this revealing book, Max Cryer explores the truth or otherwise of facts and beliefs we may have always been told are true, but which on closer examination may not be. In a wide-ranging book encompassing social history, language, music, politics, food, sport, the natural world and much more, we discover the truth behind some of our most cherished beliefs. For example: Do St Bernard dogs really carry brandy? Does Santa Claus come from the North Pole? Did Winston Churchill coin the term ‘Iron Curtain’? ‘OK’ is an American expression, right? Tulips come from Holland, don’t they?” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Every dog has its day : a thousand things you didn’t know about man’s best friend / Cryer, Max
“Every Dog Has Its Day’ is a unique collection of extraordinary stories, feats and facts that will both inform and entertain. Written with a delightfully light touch, Max Cryer dispels some myths about dogs and confirms why they occupy such a special place in our lives.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Curious English words and phrases : the truth behind the expressions we use / Cryer, Max
“Have you ever wondered where terms like ‘Angostura bitters’ and the ‘green room’ come from? Or why we call some people ‘lounge lizards’ and others ‘sugar daddies’? These are just a few of the words and phrases that language expert Max Cryer examines in this fact-filled new book. He explains where such colourful expressions come from, what they mean and how they are used. Along the way he tells a host of colourful anecdotes and dispels quite a few myths too.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Preposterous proverbs : why fine words butter no parsnips / Cryer, Max
“Max Cryer looks at a vast array of proverbs from around the world. He has chosen some of the most interesting and perplexing, and with his characteristic wry wit he analyses their meaning and truth. A great book to dip into, Preposterous Proverbs will take you from Greece (‘A thousand men cannot undress a naked man’) and China (‘A dry finger cannot pick up salt’) to Japan (‘Fools and scissors must be carefully handled’) and India (‘A fat spouse is a quilt for the winter’)”–Publisher information.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Who said that first? : the curious origins of common words and phrases / Cryer, Max
“We might think we know who first said ‘famous for fifteen minutes’, ‘annus horribilis’, ‘the cold war’ and ‘let them eat cake’, but Max Cryer has a surprise or two in store for you. In this very readable book, Max Cryer explores the origins of hundreds of expressions we use and hear every day – and comes up with some surprising findings.” (Catalogue)

 

In praise of cats / Cryer, Max
“Did you know that the Bible does not mention cats at all? Do you know where the word caterpillar comes from? Why do we think cats have nine lives? How much of our great literature refers to cats–and what do authors say? These are the questions that many cat owners have pondered at one time or another. At last, all the cat references in our language have been gathered in one place to provide a informative, fun, and comprehensive resource on the feline species–it’s the cat’s pyjamas.” (Catalogue)

New Music for your Lockdown listening!

I’m Mark, the Customer Specialist for Music & Film at Wellington City Libraries. Luckily for you (or perhaps not) thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the musical bromance my colleague Neil & I share can continue unabated during lockdown. We sifted through some of the new material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library to do some reviews for you, so you can now check out some new music during lockdown with the confidence that it won’t all be total rubbish and a complete waste of time…
[Note: With the exception of Disc 2 of the Jimmy London album, all of these titles are on Spotify. However, if you enjoy some of them please take the time to reserve them online, and show our collection some love when the Library reopens.]

via GIPHY

For free. / Crosby, David
Mark: Another strong entry in Crosby’s late career resurgence, with a mellow AOR sheen. Guests Michael MacDonald & Donald Fagan lend further gloss to this smooth album of relaxed harmonies, and 70s vibes. A solid set of songs reflect on growing old, regret, loss and perseverance.
Neil: For an artist totally written off as a drug casualty in the 80’s, David Crosby has in the last twenty years or so staged a truly miraculous revival releasing a series of solo works that rank amongst some of his best work. And considering his output in the late 60s and 70s that is saying a lot. And ‘For Free’ stands as one of these renaissance classics it is a poignant meditation on his own mortality, AND a beautifully constructed and sung album. Songs about life, love, the past and the present, and death. The inner and outer worlds of life as he has experienced them and as he sees them now.

Bridge over troubled waters. / London, Jimmy
Mark: Cheery Red resurrects overlooked Jamaican Reggae crooner Jimmy London with his rare 1972 album reissued with 4 bonus tracks, along with a 2nd compilation disc of tracks from Trojan’s Randy’s subsidiary label. His sweet pure voice lends a wistful romantic tone to these soulful tracks of love & longing.
Neil: Very welcome release of Jimmy London’s classic 1972 album ‘Bridge over troubled waters’. A reggae rock steady masterpiece, the track “A little love” was used by the then major of London Ken Livingston to promote the city.

Quietly blowing it. / Hiss Golden Messenger
Mark: Vocalist/songwriter M.C. Taylor returns with another album under the Hiss Golden Messenger moniker. A melange of Alt-Country, Folk/Pop, and slow 70s grooves provide the backdrop for a melancholic and sometimes angry look at the world of 2021. Rootsy back porch meditations set to upbeat melodies, that aim to provide a sense of optimism going forward.
Neil: A soothing rustic chilled Americana album with country folk stylings recorded, like a lot of recent work, in isolation during the early months of the pandemic in North Carolina. A calming album for troubled times.

Stand for myself. / Yola
Mark: Yolanda Quartey is a UK singer (now based in Nashville) with a love for late 60s/70’s artists who amalgamated R&B, Pop & Country. Producer Dan Auerbach creates a lush layered vintage sound that steeps Yola’s amazing voice in classic style & grooves, built around her strong original songs addressing contemporary themes. Shades of Tina Turner, Minnie Ripperton or Bettye Swann. An impressive follow up to 2019’s acclaimed Walk Through Fire.
Neil: Yola”s sophomore album is another Covid creation in which Yola took the opportunity step away from the star making machine and instead to look deep into who she is and wants to identify herself as, and places this firmly at the core of this album. It is an accomplished and genre jumping work that reminded me in places of some of the great Disco, soul R n B albums of the 70s and 80s, mainly thanks to Yola’s voice, which is set amongst unvarnished, unprocessed musical backings.

Yacht soul : the cover versions.
Mark: This cool compilation turns the tables on white musicians appropriating black music, by gathering together a bunch of Soul artists who interpreted various white MOR 70s FM and 80’s ‘Yacht Rock’ tracks. Unsurprisingly Aretha, Chaka Khan, Billy Paul, Millie Jackson et all add a layer of funky grooves to these white bread staples. Sadly the version of Seals & Crofts ‘Summer Breeze’ is from The Main Ingredient instead of the Isley Brothers version. Still good though…
Neil: Funky, smooth, soulful cover versions of classic AOR, Laurel Canyon Hippie classics with most of the tracks originating in the 70’s and 80’s. It shouldn’t work but it does. Two very different genres looking at each other and bringing out something new and rather wonderful. Imaging sailing on a beautiful summer’s day in 1974 with friends.

Animal. / Lump
Mark: The 2018 album from this side project of Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay seemed a a one-off, but they are back with more weird dynamics. The aim seems to be just to see where their disparate styles take them – through dark lyrics underpinned by meandering folktronica melodies, odd shifts & time signatures. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere. Tracy Thorn does this sort of thing far better.
Neil: Mike Lindsay (of Tunng) creates the musical settings whilst Laura Marling supplies the vocals and lyrics, The resulting album is a glittering genre mashing, boundary pushing collection of tracks, the duo are obviously well up some musical explorations, it very occasionally reminded me of Radiohead esp. some of the oblique and odd imagery employed in some of the lyrics, and also some of the angular minimalist musical settings.

Mirror II / Goon Sax
Mark: Goon Sax were still at school when their 2016 debut album Up to Anything came out. Their cute indie-pop garnered natural comparisons to the Go-Betweens, given that frontman Louis Forster is the son of Go-Betweens Robert Forster. ‘Mirror II’ is their 3rd album, following 2018’s We’re not talking, and they eschew the Beat Happening 80s sound of their previous work for a full on dive into the 90s sound with Lemonhead-esque pop, shoegazzy guitars, male/female vocals and new wavey synths. Each member now shares vocal duties and have developed their own particular style as they have grown musically over the course of 3 albums. And ‘growing up’ is really what their song are about – the awkwardness & messy discontent of being young people at this current point in time. Their best album so far.
Neil: The Brisbane dolewave trio’s latest release revels in the complexities, difficulties and embossments associated with being a twenty-something in modern day Australia. Post punk young adult angst for the 21st Century.

Outside child. / Russell, Allison
Mark: Critically lauded solo debut from Montreal native and veteran of the Roots scene with bands Po’ Girl, Birds of Chicago & roots supergroup Our Native Daughters, which also features Rhiannon Giddens. The gentle, enveloping, music with its beautiful layered arrangements frames a haunting ‘musical memoir’, re-telling an upbringing of childhood sexual abuse and street living. It all sounds a pretty heavy listen, but there is a lightness to the melodic, organic, music that enlivens the weighty backstory. Full of powerful odes to her past self and experiences, as well as the city and music that gave her new hope. Sure to be a Grammy nominee and wind up on the Best of 2021 lists at the end of the year.
Neil: French Canadian singer Allison Russell’s impressive debut album is a deep soulful work, hotly tipped by many as one of the albums of the year. It is styled a beautiful classic soul pop album that showcases her gorgeous voice in a series of melodic tracks. Behind the surface production and beauty is an album that is, on occasion, starkly dark and heart rendering. Lyrics about her own childhood abuse and recovery are set in an often-uplifting survivor context.

Exit wounds / Wallflowers
Mark: Jakob Dylan’s band The Wallflowers were essentially a revolving door of different studio & live musicians based around his writing, which led to certain conflicts along the way in terms of the ability to execute his songs. With his return after a 9 year break, Dylan sounds much more comfortable with the bands classic roots-rock sound than on previous album, 2012’s Glad All Over, which never really gelled. A nice set of solid melodic songs about life’s struggles are a reminder of why they were such a consistently good band. Shelby Lynne provides nice harmony vocals on 4 tracks.
Neil: Considering the fact that his father is Bob Dylan and his upbringing was steeped in music it is no surprise that Jakob Dylan, the self-styled cowboy troubadour, is such a gifted and highly literate musician. However, Jacob brings more than his background to the Wallflowers outfit, he also brings passion and personal reflection to his work, perhaps even most pointedly in this his latest outing ‘Exit Wounds’. If you’re a fan of classic 70’s American folk rock or highway ballads, then this album should be right up your street.

Pale horse rider. / Hanson, Cory
Mark: Melancholic folky meditations from the frontman of LA art-rockers Wand. His second solo album, after 2016’s The Unborn Capitalist from Limbo, is pure Americana. Waves of lush lilting arrangements wrap around his mellow gentle vocals. The musical equivalent of a calming walk through a meditative landscape whilst staring up at the stars.
Neil: Another isolation album this time recorded in the Mojave Desert whilst surrounded by cacti and majestic desolate nature. The resulting work is a kind of psychedelic cowboy fantasy, all plaintive steel guitars, drifting sands and sun lazy weirdness, but infused with a gentle vibe throughout.

Love drips and gathers. / Piroshka
Mark: Piroshka is an English Indie-pop supergroup with Lush’s Miki Berenyi, Elastica’s Justin Welch, Moose’s K.J. McKillop, and Modern English’s Mick Conroy, that emerged from the Lush 2015-6 reunion line-up. Following on from their 2019 debut Brickbat, their new album focuses more on their dreamy shoegaze style, rather than some of the New Wave elements introduced on their debut, with strings swirling around layered instruments and vocals. Well worth checking out of you were a Lush fan. And who wasn’t, really?
Neil: A subtle rather surreal and ethereal album, all wrapped up in warm idyllic soundscapes that evoke both beauty, and a kind off early 70’s Roxy music nostalgia.

Mood valiant. / Hiatus Kouyate
Mark: 3rd album from Australian ‘Future-soul’ Grammy-nominated alternative R&B band. Skittery beats that have a Dubstep/D&B feel, underpin neo-soul vocalising reminiscent of Eryakh Badu & Corinne Bailey Rae. The frenetic key & tempo changes, rapid fire vocals, and jittery rhythms occasionally give it too much of a ‘Music School graduates’ feel, but their third album sees them establishing a uniquely individual sound.
Neil: The Australian future soul super group’s latest release is another slick and ultra-smooth release, mixing in their own inimitable way cool jazz, neo soul and R&B. Hugely popular in hip and trendy bars and clubs globally, but perhaps just a little slightly too slick and controlled in all areas for my tastes.

Mother Nature. / Kidjo, Angélique
Mark: Beninese singer, songwriter, and activist Angélique Kidjo returns with her first album of original material since 2014’s Eve, collaborating with a younger generation of musicians like Burna Boy, and Sampa the Great, crossing continents & generations. She uses this fusion of percussive pan-African traditional styles with modern dance, Hip-Hop & trap grooves with her Fon, Yoruba, French, and English vocals, to comment on various current issues around political resistance & female empowerment. Strong messages surround by catchy funky danceable beats.
Neil:Kidjo, Angélique has been described by some reviewers as Africa’s premiere diva and now recognised across the World, thanks in part to singing at the recent Tokyo Olympics. This multi guest album expounds her vision of pan African unity. Infectious rhythms and her love of Zimbabwean township music all play a role in this potent mix. Her fabulous reimagining of the Talking Heads Remain In Light album is well worth checking out too!

Welcome 2 America. / Prince
Mark: Unreleased album from the Prince vaults recorded & mixed in 2010, but then set aside for unknown reasons. None of the songs were ever played live, so its existence & unearthing was big news for Prince fans this year. Prince created so much music in the later phase of his career, so how much you enjoy this will probably depend on how devoted you are to the independent phase of his career, with its shifting styles, and touches of genius buried within lots of filler. ‘Welcome 2 America’ has some great, catchy, tracks on social empowerment (that seem even more relevant today) and some soulful ballads, but also some of the jazz-funk filler that typified his albums from that era. Overall though it’s probably more consistently enjoyable than a lot of his albums from the 2010’s, so its good that it has finally seen the light of day at last.
Neil: Whilst there is no argument that Prince created some of the greatest albums of the 80’s it is also true that the release of material since his death has been patchy in quality. Sadly, this album of totally unreleased tracks falls into this category. It’s is a ‘state of the nation’ album originally scheduled for a 2010 release, intended as a kind of updated version of the brilliant Sign ‘O’ The Times, but it lacks that albums originality, bite and passion. Prince is always worth listening to and there are one or two good tracks on the album, but it is also clear from listening to the final overall work why he choose to leave it unrealised.

The blue elephant. / Berry, Matt
Mark: Actor-Musician Matt Berry (The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd) likes to deliver albums re-creating particular styles of music he is a fan of. Pastoral folk-rock for 2013’s ‘Kill the Wolf’, new age synthesizer music for 2014’s Music for Insomniacs, and country-rock (2020’s Phantom Birds). He is back with a new album square the the psychedelic realm with new album ‘The blue elephant’. All the faders are set to reverb, splashy snares hit every few seconds, chorale voices back meandering tunes as his actor-ish tones and song arrangements hit all the psych buttons you could push. One for fans of the genre. Anyone else might feel like they’ve dialled in a lost pirate radio station from the 60s…
Neil: You might be more familiar with Matt Berry’s as the award-winning actor, comedian in outings such as ‘The Mighty Boosh’ or the 2015 SpongeBob movie. However, he has always run his music career in parallel with his acting one. A prolific musician with nine studio albums to his name. In ‘The Blue Elephant’ he has made a work that is a huge homage to the music of the late 60’s. Let’s be clear this isn’t a comedy album in any sense of the word, instead it’s a serious recreation of the music of flower-power age. And if you enjoy music from this time, then I think you are onto a real winner.

Drama. / Amarante, Rodrigo
Mark: A Rio de Janeiro native who now calls Los Angeles home. Known for the rock quartet Los Hermanos (who were huge in Brazil) and his track Tuyo which is the theme song on the popular Netflix series Narcos. ‘Drama’ is his second solo outing, following 2014’s Cavalo. Lovely atmospheric laid back Brazilian samba/tango rhythms, with 4 tracks in English, shifting from the upbeat to the romantic. A perfectly relaxed, soothing album for the times we find ourselves in. Amarante apparently recorded most of the album himself, and plays no less than 10 of its instruments.
Neil: Born in Rio De Janeiro, Rodrigo Amarante uses his rich cultural heritage to fullest advantage, whilst bringing a large dollop of his own creativity to the party. It is a laid-back party, but no worse for that. It is the kind of music you can imagine taking it easy to on a long hot summer’s day. Another blissful, gentle album, this time Samba inspired with acoustic singer-songwriter elements woven in.

KG0516. / Karol G
Mark: Colombian pop singer who mixes reggaeton, hip-hop, & modern R&B. She spent a decade as a guest and backing vocalist before Ahora Me Llama with Bad Bunny in 2017 launched her solo career. KG0516 is her 3rd album and is a catchy mix of pop-reggaetón, urbano & Latin trap. The US is supposedly in the midst of a second wave of Latin crossover success after the 2000’s and this album, which has already made a Guardian list of the Best albums of 2021 so far, will no doubt place her as one of the key female artists currently in Latin music.
Neil: Colombian singer Karol G’s latest album takes its title from the format of a flight number representing her name. It’s a clever idea and well named, as each track in this album in the artists own words “is a connecting flight that takes you to a new place”. It’s Karol’s own version of a musical journey, the tango tinged modern urban sound and production overlays a versatile range of tracks, each with a slightly different emotional emphasis.

Reason to live. / Barlow, Lou
Mark: 6th solo album from this iconic indie music figure, who has been a member of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and the Folk Implosion. A homage to his early lo-fi aesthetic (but with better modern gear) he recorded this album at his home, and played everything himself except for drums on one track. Folky, introspective, searching songs that confront anxieties both personal and political. Mature and thoughtful, proof that domestic happiness hasn’t dulled his song-writing skills.
Neil: A million miles away from his Dinosaur Jnr output, Lou Barlow’s downbeat vocals and acoustic guitar driven lo fi production are in places reminiscent of Nick Drake. The lyrics mine a rich vein of heartbreak and critical self-introspection. That all said, there is undoubtedly a warmth and optimism woven through the tracks too. The result is delicate, beautiful, and slightly melancholic and well worth a listen.

After robots. / BLK JKS
Mark: We just purchased the new sophomore 2021 album ‘Abantu/Before Humans’ from BLK JKS, so we thought we would also track down their critically lauded debut from 2009. This will end up in the world section, but it is just as much an alternative rock album, as turning the tables, the South African musicians take on Western music traditions, instead of the other way round. A dense hybrid of 60’s hard rock, proggy rhythms, jazz, afrobeat, reggae and much more. Repeated listens are needed to make headway into this album, which still sounds ahead of its time 12 years on. Challenging but rewarding.
Neil: After Robots is a hugely ambitious project, with the band trying to fuse elements of prog rock, ska, jazz kwaito and reggae (and those were just the genres I spotted) into a cohesive whole. In places it is great, and their ambition pays off. In other places the weight of this ambition pulls it down, and the album loses focus and clarity, but the big sound they strive for is powerful throughout.

Get out of your own way. / Sands, Evie
Mark: Much like Jackie DeShannon, Evie Sands is a pioneering 1960’s singer, who had the bad luck of being the first artist to record a number of well know songs that went onto become big hits for others. She was the first singer to record “Angel of the Morning” for example, weeks before her label went bankrupt & the song became an massive hit for another singer. She spent most of the 70s focusing on songwriting, only releasing 2 albums before retiring completely. After a comeback album in 1999, ‘Get out of your own way’ is her first solo recording in 22 years, and it’s just great. A super catchy set of melodic country-tinged pop songs that sound timeless.
Neil: American singer songwriter Evie Sands began her career in the 60’s when she was just a teenager. Possessing a distinctive powerful and unique blue-eyed soul voice no less than Dusty Springfield described her as her favourite singer. She’s weathered the highs and lows of the music industry for the best part of 60 years. This new collection sounds like it could have been recorded at any point in career, from the mid seventies onwards. Accompanied by a strong band and her undiminished vocals, basically it is a collection of American classic pop-rock ballad songs that have soulful elements.

I know I’m funny haha. / Webster, Faye
Mark: The music photographer/indie-singer returns with a new album after the breakout success of 2019’s Atlanta Millionaires Club. She has a lovely voice, and the album is full of lovelorn ballads and sad moods, delivered in laid back washes of country-ish pedal steel and strings. Her tart lyrics often uncut the sweetness of her drowsy meditations on love & loneliness. Lead off song, the 2020 single ‘Better Distractions’ landed on Barack Obama’s annual year-end playlist. Really enjoyed this one.
Neil: The sad, plaintive and beautiful voice of Faye Webster is put to excellent use in ‘I know I’m funny ha-ha’. A lonesome, indie country, haunting, steel guitar heavy album of songs about the emotional emptiness of life’s sadder moments. It is a testament to the albums musical balance that it never sounds like a dirge, or lacking in emotional conviction.

Home video. / Dacus, Lucy
Mark: The solo artist (and member of ‘Boygenius’, a trio with fellow breakout 20-something singer/songwriters Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers) returns with her 3rd solo album, which looks back on coming of age in her hometown. Her warm emotive voice looks back on her childhood & adolescence with vignettes on relationships, the influence of the Church on young women, and sexuality. These poignant reflections would seem to lend themselves to a folky acoustic mileau, but Dacus rocks out with a power-pop feel to the most traks, leavened with some guitar & keys based ballads. The perspective of her 20s provides a more mature & defined worldview, that pierces the mists of nostalgic memories with sharply pointed observations. Really good.
Neil: As a young person Lucy Dacus was heavily immersed in American Christian youth culture, but as her sexuality emerged this started to raise problems in her life and faith. ‘Home Video’ is her autobiographical exploration of her younger self’s world and her subsequent growth. The songs are catchy, finely crafted and, in a deliberately post adolescent way, address young love, nostalgia, spirituality and emerging sexuality. The lyrics are direct and sharply focussed.

Blue weekend. / Wolf Alice
Mark: 3rd album from this North London band that merge vintage ’90s rock and 4AD styled dream-pop. Previous albums were all a commercially & critical success, garnering a Grammy nomination in 2015 and a Mercury prize for Visions Of a Life, and each release seems to get huger in sound & ambition, navigating multiple genres with ease. This album is even more ambitious, with the music polished to a sheen, and singer Ellie Rowsell’s voice in front, every track seems to be aiming for ‘Soaring anthem’. Already the 4th highest scored album of 2021 on Metacritic. It all sounds amazing, but I’m still not convinced they are anything more than the sum of their influences.
Neil: Back in the day some bands deliberately wrote albums designed to be played in big stadium tours or festivals. Wolf Alice’s latest outing sounds like that was their intention on ‘Blue Weekend’. This isn’t a criticism, as it’s a pristine, extravagant alt-rock/shoegaze work of big performances and sound. I think when they can get back on the road, the music encapsulated in this album will make for a showstopper stadium tour.

Tezeta /
Mark: This long-lost recording captures Ethiopian organist Hailu Mergia and the Walias Band at the Hilton Addis Ababa in 1975. The American owned Hilton was an upscale cosmopolitan refuge from the political turmoil of Ethiopia, following the mid-70s take over of the erg military regime. The Walias band held a residency at the Hilton for almost a decade and, as this rediscovered performance shows, merged traditional Ethiopian popular songs and standards with American funk, soul & Jazz grooves to great effect. Simple chord vamps form the backbone of these endlessly funky tunes that are perfect for background listening, but when you pay closer attention the complexities of his playing reveals itself.
Neil: Ethiopian keyboardist Hailu is best known for his work in the Walia’s Band that regularly played the Hilton hotel in Addis Ababa in the 1970’s, during what is often referred to as Ethiopia’s “Golden age of music”. These long-lost recordings are finally seeing the light of day. Imagine, if you can, Ethiopian cocktail lounge music that also encompasses traditional and modern aspects. Music that is simultaneously fabulous background music, and also innovative in its own way. It’s a really mesmerising mix.

Utopian ashes / Gillespie, Bobby
Mark: The Primal Scream frontman teams up with former Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth for some duets in the vein of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. Apparently the album tells the tale of a doomed marriage. Grievances are aired and regret & blame intermingle, as the fictional couple sift through the ashes of their failed relationship. These narratives are set to a moody, lush stringed, country-southern soul sound, and they give the indie-rocker & the post punk icon a chance to showcase a hither-to unknown vulnerability within their respective musical personas. An unlikely pairing that results in a surprisingly effective album.
Neil: Primal Scream and Jesus and the Mary Chain legend Bobby Gillespie teams up with Jehnny Beth, and they go all dark country on us. On paper it sounds like a startling change of direction for both artists, and in less experienced & talented hands it could have gone badly astray. However, both Bobby’s and Jehnny’s instantly recognisable and distinctive voices anchor the piece, and the album does contain some low-key stylistic elements of their previous work. Dramatic and understated, in places tragedy and pain, melodrama and dark tales, are all imbedded in these songs. A highly successful collaboration & an unexpected change for all parties concerned that really delivers the goods.

Box Set Reissue Picks:
The Reprise albums (1968-1971). / Mitchell, Joni
Neil: A collection of Joni’s reprise albums. The pinnacle of her career, flawless, creatively unbounded by convention or commercial considerations, unmatched in their brilliance. The finest songwriter of our time on creative fire.

Everybody still digs Bill Evans. / Evans, Bill
Mark: Lavish & stylish box set from Concord Records speciality Craft imprint. The first detailed career retrospective from 1956—1980, through multiple labels, for the iconic Jazz pianist divides its 5 discs into themes that follow his career: 2 disc of Piano Trio performances, one of Solo performances, another of co-headlining and side-person work, and for the final disc a previously unreleased, live recording form the mid 70’s. Encased in a lovely hardbound book, with photos and a lengthy essay & session notes, the tracks have all been newly remastered. A fitting tribute to perhaps one of the most influential & pivotal figures of modern Jazz.

Stories of strength, resilience, racism, and the hope and despair of climate change

In our latest biographies we read about the indomitable Helen Kelly, President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions from 2007 to 2015, whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 52. Beloved NZ writer Patricia Grace takes us on a journey through her childhood and writer, columnist and former lawyer Charlotte Grimshaw opens up about growing up as daughter of the famous CK Stead. There are stories of strength and resilience from Sharon Stone and from the winner of the 2020 Costa Biography Award: Lee Lawrence who documents the shooting of his mother by police, the subsequent uprising, the fight to clear his mothers name and racial prejudice he encountered. Finally we hear the story of kiwi scientist Dave Lowe who for decades has been recording the changes in our climate and trying to open people’s eyes to the effects of increasing fossil fuel emissions.

Helen Kelly : her life / Macfie, Rebecca
“When Helen Kelly died on a Wellington spring night in October 2016, Aotearoa New Zealand lost an extraordinary leader. Kelly was the first female head of the country’s trade union movement, but she was also much more – a visionary who believed that all workers, whether in a union or not, deserved to be given a fair go; a fighter from a deeply communist family who never gave up the struggle; a strategist and orator who invoked strong loyalty; a woman who could stir fierce emotions.” (Adapted from catalogue)

From the centre : a writer’s life / Grace, Patricia
“With photographs and quotes from her many, hugely loved books, Patricia Grace begins with her grandparents and parents and takes us through her childhood, her education, marriage and up to the present day in this touching and self-deprecating story of her life, the life of a writer, of a Maori woman and of a teacher. It expresses the love for family and for ancestral land; shows the prejudices she had to face and that made her stronger; and tracks her career as a writer.” (Catalogue)

In this memoir you witness the slow, bittersweet reclamation of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga from a time when our culture was in desperate peril through the eyes of someone who has lived it. With Grace there is no distance between us, no shallow interpretation and we recognise that, in learning history, it matters who is telling the story.” (Emma Espiner, Kete) Read the complete review here.

The mirror book : a memoir / Grimshaw, Charlotte
“‘It’s material, make a story out of it,’ was the mantra Charlotte Grimshaw grew up with in her famous literary family. But when her life suddenly turned upside-down, she needed to re-examine the reality of that material. The more she delved into her memories, the more the real characters in her life seemed to object. So what was the truth of ‘a whole life lived in fiction’? This is a vivid account of a New Zealand upbringing, where rebellion was encouraged, where trouble and tragedy lay ahead. It looks beyond the public face to the ‘messy reality of family life’ and much more.” (Catalogue) Also available as an e-book.

The louder I will sing / Lawrence, Lee
“On 28th September 1985, Lee Lawrence’s mother Cherry Groce was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her Brixton home. The bullet shattered her spine and she never walked again. For Lee, it was a spark that lit a flame that would burn for the next 30 years as he fought to get the police to recognise their wrongdoing. The Louder I Will Sing is a powerful, compelling and uplifting memoir about growing up in modern Britain as a young Black man. It’s a story both of the underlying racism beneath many of our most important institutions, but also the positive power that hope, faith and love can bring in response.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The beauty of living twice / Stone, Sharon
“Sharon Stone suffered a massive stroke that cost her not only her health, but her career, family, fortune, and global fame. Stone chronicles her efforts to rebuild her life and writes about her slow road back to wholeness and health. Stone made headlines not just for her beauty and her talent, but for her candor and her refusal to “play nice,” and it’s those same qualities that make this memoir so powerful. The Beauty of Living Twice is a book for the wounded and a book for the survivors; it’s a celebration of women’s strength and resilience.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an e-book.

Image from Victoria University PressThe alarmist : fifty years measuring climate change / Lowe, D. C.
“His research was urgent fifty years ago. Now, it’s critical. In the early 1970s, budding Kiwi scientist Dave Lowe was posted at an atmospheric monitoring station in the North Island. On a shoestring salary he measured carbon in the atmosphere, collecting data towards what became one of the most important discoveries in modern science. What followed was a lifetime’s career marked by hope and despair. Dave has faced down climate deniers, foot-dragging bureaucracy and widespread complacency to open people’s eyes to the effects of increasing fossil fuel emissions on our atmosphere.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fiction set in Tokyo

Were you hooked on watching our fabulous athletes in action at this year’s Olympics? And in amongst the thrills, spills Golds, silvers and bronzes have you got to wondering like us about, Tokyo the city that is hosting this sporting extravaganza? Due to the pandemic the television coverage we are seeing is more of empty indoor stadiums than of the city itself.

Originally a fishing village, called Edo Tokyo became a, prominent political centre in 1603. and now with 39 million residents in its greater area it is the most populous city in the world.

Tokyo is a city of extremes; the most modern city on the planet but also with deep roots in traditional Japanese culture. The only place on the planet where you can meet interactive robots trying to get you to shop on one street under a blinding  neon urban skyscraper and just round the corner you can find a Traditional wooden Shinto temple hundreds of years old.

And beyond the sport, technology and history,  the city has spawned a rich and vibrant culture spanning hundreds of years and covering every artistic field imaginable.

So, we thought what better time there could be to expand on this interest in the city by looking at some of the fiction literature about or originating in this great metropolis.

Out / Kirino, Natsuo
“It is a dynamic example of the work of a new breed of Asian women writers excelling in the smart, hard-nosed, well-written, and realistically plotted mystery novel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

After dark / Murakami, Haruki
“A short, sleek novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn. At its center are two sisters – Eri, a fashion model slumbering her way into oblivion, and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny’s toward people whose lives are radically alien to her own: a jazz trombonist who claims they’ve met before, a burly female “love hotel” manager and her maid staff, and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These “night people” are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the miso soup / Murakami, Ryū
“It is just before New Year’s. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo’s sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank’s behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn’t until the second night, however, in a scene that will shock you and make you laugh and make you hate yourself for laughing, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Number 9 dream / Mitchell, David
“As Eiji Miyake’s twentieth birthday nears, he sets out for the seething metropolis of Tokyo to find the father he has never met. There, he begins a thrilling, whirlwind journey where dreams, memories and reality collide then diverge as Eiji is caught up in a feverish succession of encounters by turn bizarre, hilarious and shockingly dangerous. But until Eiji has fallen in love and exorcised his childhood demons, the belonging he craves will remain, tantalizingly, just beyond his grasp.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Confessions of a mask / Mishima, Yukio
“Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an adolescent boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be “normal.” Kochan is meek-bodied and unable to participate in the more athletic activities of his classmates. He begins to notice his growing attraction to some of the boys in his class, particularly the pubescent body of his friend Omi. To hide his homosexuality, he courts a woman, Sonoko, but this exacerbates his feelings for men. As news of the war reaches Tokyo, Kochan considers the fate of Japan and his place within its deeply rooted propriety. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The Earthquake Bird, Susanna Jones (ebook)
The Earthquake Bird, a haunting novel set in Japan which reveals a murder on its first page and takes its readers into the mind of the chief suspect, Lucy Fly – a young, vulnerable English girl living and working in Tokyo as a translator. As Lucy is interrogated by the police she reveals her past to the reader, and it is a past which is dangerously ambiguous and compromising . . .
Why did Lucy leave England for the foreign anonymity of Japan ten years before, and what exactly prompted her to sever all links with her family back home? She was the last person to see the murdered girl alive, so why is she not more forthcoming about the circumstances of their last meeting?  (Overdrive description)

One morning like a bird / Miller, Andrew
“Tokyo, 1940. As Japan’s war with China escalates, Yuji Takano, a young man so far spared fighting by ill-health, clings to his calm, cultured life – the company of friends, evenings of French conversation at the home of the trader, Monsieur Feneon, the days of writing and contemplation enabled by an allowance from his father.” “But the world begins to close in on Yuji. His father loses his professorship over a comment about the Emperor, the allowance is scrapped and, with the nation heading towards conflict with the Allies, conscription threatens. ” (Catalogue)

Who is Mr Satoshi? / Lee, Jonathan
“Reclusive photographer Rob Fossick, having never recovered from the death of his wife, has come adrift both from society & his creative urge. But when his mother suddenly dies he is presented with an intriguing problem to solve – Rob discovers that his mother was hoping to deliver a package to an enigmatic character called Mr Satoshi.” (Catalogue)

The Nakano Thrift Shop / Kawakami, Hiromi
“In the Nakano Thrift Shop, the young woman who works the register falls for her reserved co-worker and asks her employers sister for advice in attracting him and soon comes to realize that love requires acceptance of idiosyncrasies and secrets.” (Catalogue)

Sweet bean paste / Dorian Sukegawa
“Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste. Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She begins to teach him her craft, but as their friendship flourishes, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue’s dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences.” (adapted from catalogue)

Convenience store woman / Murata, Sayaka
“Keiko isn’t normal. At school and university people find her odd, and her family worries she will never fit in. To make them happy, she takes a job at a convenience store. But in Keiko’s circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend her time stacking shelves and ordering green tea. As the pressure to find a new job – or worse, a husband – increases, Keiko is forced to take desperate action… –Cover.” (Catalogue)