New interiors books to reinvigorate your home

Spend these chilly winter days envisioning ways you can transform your interior space, to become its most eco-friendly, comforting and beautiful this winter. These new release non-fiction books are centered around how you can alter your interior world to reflect your personality, by embracing a healthy mix of creativity and design, that maintains a sustainable sensitivity.

Find artistic inspiration in Sarah Andrews’s aesthetic wonderland Principles of Style, that has reached cult-status around the world following the success of her iconic, unpretentious Tasmanian cabin Captain’s Rest. Andrews’s unconventional, raw and honest personal journey is expressed in her unique interiors styling, and has been adapted into an approachable and practical guide, that can be applied to any space for a deeply personal outcome. Then, delve deeper into the creative approach in The Life Eclectic and The New Naturalists, that showcase a wide array of eclectic artists homes from around the globe. 

Experience the breath of fresh air that is Probably This Housewarming. A new release that humorously fills the rarely accommodated space of interior improvements for rental homes. You’ll find fun and easy temporary alterations, DIY’s and entertaining tips in this inclusive, enthusiastic and realistic rental home improvement guide. And explore the multiple new titles featuring sustainable homes, that will help you embrace greener ways of living, decorating and designing your interior space, to foster an eco-conscious spirit at home. These visually exciting and informative new releases will fulfill all your interior design needs, and help you revitalise your love for your own home.

Principles of style / Andrews, Sarah
Principles of Style aims to be a timeless learning tool for readers, no matter their own personal style. Andrews examines some of her key projects and favourite rooms, as well as by focusing on her ten rules of styling, formulated both through hands-on experience and studies in the science of design. Andrews believes that everyone has the ability to create interiors that are right for them; in this inspiring and eminently practical book, she aims to demonstrate just how to do so.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The life eclectic / Breeze, Alexander
“Featuring homes of the world’s most well-respected creatives, The Life Eclectic is a celebration of individuality, and embracing the joy that fluidity in taste can bring. Ever wondered how you might be able to recreate the eclectic, joyful and chic style of famed designers? The Life Eclectic is an interiors book that shows how highly regarded designers, artists, film directors and musicians curate their treasured (and varied) possessions to glorious effect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wonderland : adventures in decorating / Thornton, Summer
“Interior decorator Summer Thornton believes in designing with the wildest abandon: her world is one of nickel tubs, marble fireplaces, whimsical textiles, surprising patterns, and secret gardens. Often described as maximalist with a modern, fresh sensibility, Thornton manages to achieve highly polished, sophisticated interiors that indulge in a lighthearted, almost irreverent sense of whimsy. In her first book, she inspires readers to follow their creative impulses and make their own rules.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The new naturalists : inside the homes of creative collectors : with over 300 illustrations / Bingham, Claire
“Collectors open their homes to reveal the weird and wonderful world of natural objects. This new generation of naturalists use their collections to craft creative careers and decorate their homes, providing a wealth of inspiration for celebrating the beauty of the world around us more sustainably. From cabinets of curiosity to foraged decorations, these obsessive and eclectic creatives reveal the stories behind their collections and how they celebrate their love of nature in their everyday spaces.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Housewarming : a guide to creating a home you adore / Ciolino, Beau
“A no-nonsense, comprehensive guide to living comfortably and beautifully on the cheap by and for millennials. This fun guide shows you how to live your best, fullest, most beautiful life while dealing with all of the limitations that come with renting, working full-time, and having little-to-no disposable income. Organized into three sections–Design, DIY, and Entertain– the guide is all about embracing your true self in your home design, to create a space that reflects your personality and fits your individual needs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Green living : a sustainable guide to a more intentional life / Chillingsworth, Jen
“This book is a collection of changes you can make to your home and lifestyle over the course of a year. Jen Chillingsworth offers up achievable advice and tips for anyone and everyone, no matter where you live or what job you do. From making your own cleaning products, soy candles, buying vintage, giving up plastic to celebrating simply – discover how to get the most out of living a more modest, meaningful life. Learn to live and enjoy the little things.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Embracing natural design : inspired living / Gonzalez, Stephanie Kienle
“Through beautifully photographed residences, which have an exquisite layering of classic and modern furnishings, Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez discusses how to bring sustainable elements into your living space. She employs organic forms, stone and wood pieces, and natural weaves with texture, such as seagrass, caning, bamboo, and rattan. Full of design and entertaining ideas, Embracing Natural Design is for those who are interested in achieving an environmentally conscious lifestyle.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Science can be artful

Beads, flowers, patterns; don’t be mistaken by the book covers, these are science books. From the microscope to the telescope, and from feathers to unhatched; these hand picked books provide a new perspective for discovering the art in science. 

The book of eggs : a lifesize guide to the eggs of six hundred of the world’s bird species / Hauber, Mark E.
“This book introduces eggs from six hundred species – some endangered or extinct – from around the world and housed mostly at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include photographs of each egg in full colour and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests where the eggs are kept warm.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Jellyfish : a natural history / Gershwin, Lisa-Ann
“Jellyfish are mysterious creatures, luminously beautiful with remarkably varied life cycles. These simple, ancient animals are found in every ocean at every depth, and have lived on Earth for at least the last 500 million years. Ominously, they are also increasing in number as they adapt well to marine environmental degradation. This book looks at their anatomy, life history, taxonomy and ecology, and includes species profiles featuring stunning marine photography.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Science is beautiful : botanical life : under the microscope / Salter, Colin
“This stunning collection unearths exquisite photographs of flowers, trees, and grasses, all made possible by the electron microscope. Whether it’s the work of a lavender leaf oil gland, the inside of a pine pollen, flower stamen sculptures deep inside a tree bark, or the wonderful patterns of lichen, each image is an eye opening combination of art and science.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Pearls : a natural history
“Based on an exhibition mounted by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and The Field Museum in Chicago, Pearls combines science, history, and beautiful objects both natural and crafted. The authors draw on their varied disciplines to explore all aspects of pearls – biology, gemology, anthropology, mineralogy, ecology, and the decorative arts. Rich with new color photography and archival images, Pearls: A Natural History chronicles this enduring obsession. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Capturing the universe : the most spectacular astrophotography from across the cosmos / Evans, Rhodri
“The very best images captured by the new generation of terrestrial telescopes, orbiting telescopes and deep-space probes and landers have been collected in this magnificent volume.  From the world’s gigantic telescopes in the Canary Islands, Hawaii and Chile to the New Horizons probe now heading into the Kuiper Belt to examine other icy mini-worlds, each page reveals extraordinary images that take us deeper into our universe.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

As kingfishers catch fire : birds & books / Preston, Alex
“Preston created his own personal anthology of nature writing. Moving from the ‘high requiem’ of Keats’s nightingale to the crow-strewn sky at the end of Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, from Ted Hughes’s brooding ‘Hawk in the Rain’ to the giddy anthropomorphism of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, this is a book that will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light. Beautifully illustrated and illuminated by the celebrated graphic artist Neil Gower.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

 

 

 

 

Marvellous Maps, Amazing Atlases & Charming Cartography

Who else loves gorgeous maps and atlases?  We know kids love them, but how many of us never lose that love as we grow up?  Poring over huge books of maps, learning about the world, history, people and animals is lots of fun, and there is something particularly beautiful about quality cartography.

If you’re a map lover, or you’d like to explore some atlases to see just what they’re all about, check out these from our collection:

An atlas of extinct countries : the remarkable (and occasionally ridiculous) stories of 48 nations that fell off the map / Defoe, Gideon
“Prisoners of Geography meets Bill Bryson: a funny, fascinating, beautifully illustrated and timely history of countries that, for myriad and often ludicrous reasons, no longer exist.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Brilliant maps : an atlas for curious minds / Wright, Ian
“Which nations have North Korean embassies? What percentage of young people live with their families? Which country lists volleyball as its national sport? How much does it cost to get a pint around the world? And where can you find lions in the wild? Revelatory, thought-provoking and fun, Brilliant Maps is a unique atlas of culture, history, politics and miscellanea, compiled by the editor of the iconic Brilliant Maps website.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Amazing world atlas : bringing the world to life / Ward, Alexa
“Bringing planet earth to life, this colourful and fun addition to Lonely Planet Kids takes you on a trip around the world that you’ll never forget. Filled with continental and regional maps, lively text, an entry for every country on the planet, plus mind-blowing facts, and an emphasis on the species that live on our planet, this is an essential resource for young readers wanting to learn about the world.” (Catalogue)

Philip’s atlas of New Zealand and the world
“Finally we’re included on the maps!  This updated edition of the bestselling Atlas contains: 16 pages of fully revised maps and statistical information; statistical information presented in a clear and accessible graphical format; a page dedicated to the islands of the South-West Pacific; separate New Zealand and Pacific index for easy access, latest world mapping; 200 country flags.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Atlas of everything : maps that help you make sense of the world
“Navigate the world like never before. Featuring over 50 maps of the world – one on every page – this unique atlas includes facts and figures on almost everything you’d want to know. From Nobel Prize winners and popular names, to endangered species and active volcanoes, the combination of maps and infographics makes this the perfect book for children to find out information in a quick and easy way, and remember it. Includes information on the origins of humans, ancient civilisations, the fashion industry, music around the world, film, sport, art and design, politics, the natural world, architecture, animal migration, oceans, natural disasters and space, to name just a few topics in this fact-filled book.” (Catalogue)

Strange maps : an atlas of cartographic curiosities / Jacobs, Frank
“An intriguing collection of more than 100 out-of-the-ordinary maps, blending art, history and pop culture to create a unique atlas of humanity.” (Catalogue)

 

New Zealand historical atlas : ko papatuanuku e takoto nei
“Surveys New Zealand history through a dazzling array of maps and graphics, covering the story of life on these islands from their origins through East Polynesian settlement, the building of pa in the Bay of Islands, the colonial era in the nineteenth century through to the present.” (Catalogue)

 

Atlas of the invisible : maps & graphics that will change how you see the world / Cheshire, James
“An unprecedented portrait of the hidden patterns in human society–visualized through the world of data.  In this triumph of visual storytelling, they uncover truths about our past, reveal who we are today, and highlight what we face in the years ahead.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

An atlas of geographical wonders : from mountaintops to riverbeds : a selection of comparative maps and tableaux / Bailly, Jean-Christophe
“This is the first book to catalog comparative maps and tableaux that visualize the heights and lengths of the world’s mountains and rivers. Produced predominantly in the nineteenth century, these beautifully rendered maps emerged out of the tide of exploration and scientific developments in measuring techniques.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

These are just a selection of what we have on offer. For more atlases in our collection, click here.

New Science books

From the red planet to natural history, from palaeontology to resilience thinking – these new science books provide a range of reading for people who want to see what’s happening from a distance in time and space, and look to what’s in the future.

The red planet : a natural history of Mars / Morden, Simon
“As NASA lays its plans for a return to the moon and, from there, a manned mission to Mars, Planetary geologist, geophysicist and acclaimed SF author Dr Simon Morden takes us on a vivid guided tour of Mars. From its formation four and half billion years ago, through an era of cataclysmic meteor strikes and the millions of years during which a vast ocean spanned its entire upper hemisphere, to the long, frozen ages, Morden presents a tantalising vision of the next planet we will visit.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Drawn to Nature : Gilbert White and the Artists / Martin, Simon
“Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne has inspired generations of artists, writers and naturalists. From Thomas Bewick to Eric Ravilious and Clare Leighton, many artists’ depictions of animals, birds and wildlife have illustrated White’s celebrated book, together providing a microcosm of natural history illustration from the eighteenth century until today.  The book also includes an introduction to the life of Gilbert White by Sir David Attenborough, and an essay by Virginia Woolf.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

A brief history of timekeeping : the science of marking time, from Stonehenge to atomic clocks / Orzel, Chad
“Our modern lives are ruled by clocks and watches, smartphone apps and calendar programs. Predating written language and marching on through human history, the desire for ever-better timekeeping has spurred technological innovation and sparked theories that radically reshaped our understanding of the universe. For those interested in science, technology who’s ever wondered about the instruments that divide our days into moments.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Perseverance and the Mars 2020 Mission : Follow the Science to Jezero Crater / Von Ehrenfried, Manfred Dutch
“The book takes readers through every stage of the Mars mission, describing its major goals and objectives, the cutting-edge technology and instrumentation onboard the Perseverance rover and other spacecraft components, and the members of the scientific team who steered the mission. The chapters therefore delve into how and why Jezero Crater was selected as the optimal landing and sample collecting site to meet the mission objectives.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Do hard things : why we get resilience wrong and the surprising science of real toughness / Magness, Steve
“Steve Magness, a performance scientist who coaches Olympic athletes, rebuilds our broken model of resilience with one grounded in the latest science and psychology. Magness teaches us how we can work with our body – how experiencing discomfort, leaning in, paying attention, and creating space to take thoughtful action can be the true indications of cultivating inner strength. He offers four core pillars to cultivate such resilience: Smart and wise all at once. ” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Paleontology : an illustrated history / Bainbridge, David
“David Bainbridge recounts how legends of marvellous creatures gradually gave rise to the modern science of palaeontology, and how this pioneering discipline has reshaped our view of the natural world. Bainbridge discusses how contemporary palaeontologists use cutting-edge technologies to flesh out the discoveries of past and present. This panoramic book brings together stunning illustrations ranging from early sketches and engravings to eye-popping paleoart and high-tech computer reconstructions.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Supertall : how the world’s tallest buildings are reshaping our cities and our lives / Al, Stefan
“In Supertall, TED Resident Stefan Al-himself an experienced architect who has worked on some of the largest buildings in the world-reveals the advancements in engineering, design, and data science that have led to this worldwide boom. He  explores the ingenious technological innovations-in cement, wind resistance, elevator design, and air-conditioning-that make the latest megastructures a reality. And he examines the risks of wealth inequality, carbon emissions, and contagion.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

 

July’s New Music for Te Awe: Part 3

Here is Part 3 of our new Music Picks for July. You can catch up with Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? Read on to find out…
[Ed. Sadly Neil could only fit a couple of albums into his schedule this week…]

Drive my car : original soundtrack. / Ishabashi, Eiko
Mark: Japanese film Drive My Car received rave reviews as a movie, but also for its evocative soundtrack by Eiko Ishabashi, a well regarded Japanese singer-songwriter-musician who has frequently worked with Jim O’Rourke, and whose discography ranges from experimental music, to film soundtracks, to a jazzy tribute to a popular character from TV’s ‘Law & Order’. The film’s motifs are based on jazz rhythm patterns provided by a drummer, and piano, electronics, flute, synth, melodeon, vibraphone & pedal steel guitar fill out the pieces, to provide a melancholy & moody undercurrent. An immersive listen that stands on its own as a suite of music, but also forms a counterpart to the slowly unfolding grief at the heart of the films conversation & car journeys.
Neil: A cool smooth and nuanced film soundtrack. The film which it accompanies explores acceptance betrayal and grief and is an adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story. In many circles the movie has been heralded as a masterpiece, and the music soundtrack perfectly mirrors the highly reflective nature of the film.

Nancy & Lee. / Sinatra, Nancy
Mark: The Light in The Attic label continue their Nancy Sinatra reissue series with her most iconic album, a cult 60’s classic. They had been working together for some time and the album is a compilation of sorts, gathering previously released singles, with some covers and new cuts. His cavernously dead sounding cowboy-vocals, and over the top arrangements, meld perfectly with her girlish sweetness. Their fantastic musical chemistry and sense of fun often hide the depth of her talent in navigating the psychological darkness of the characters in these strange songs. Well deserving of its cult status.
Neil: Fabulous collection of strange and odd tracks from Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. One might suspect this is the kind of music David Lynch grew up listening too. American Gothic that is rooted in country and Western pop, but looking at it from a carnival funfair, distorted hall of mirrors, perspective.

12th of June. / Lovett, Lyle
Mark: Country stalwart Lyle Lovett returns with his first album in a decade, named after the 2017 date he became a first time father to twins. A mixture of covers and originals, it’s the smorgasbord of styles he’s known for, from Western Swing, to big-band Jazz, to honky-tonk bar room country, all with his trademark sense of humour. Longtime vocal partner Francine Reed guests on a couple of tracks. A sense of poignancy exists as Lovett (now 64) reflects on his musical past, the passage of time on relationships, and his newfound sense of family.

Love & fire / Black Seeds
Mark: Local legends The Black Seeds return with their 7th album, and first album in 5 years. With sessions recorded initially in 2018 at the Surgery, Covid restrictions hit, and the album ended up as a project via video chat. While being created in the middle of a pandemic the album doesn’t focus on Covid specifically, but on overcoming struggles generally, from personal relationships to child rearing. The album never drifts far from their established template, but they throw in a few more different elements like Afrobeat & R&B grooves alongside their patented Reggae/Dub. The result seems deceptively simple, but making a cohesive ‘band’ album separately, and also as cheaply as possible due to the lack of touring, is a real triumph, and that vibe flows into the music which brings an overriding sense of hope to the sunny/breezy tunes.

Second nature. / Lucius
Mark: The 4th album, and first original material in 6 years, from the Brooklyn-based indie pop group fronted by tandem lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig – who have also appeared on a Roger Waters album as well as touring as his backing singers, and have featured on tracks from artists as diverse as Ozzy Osbourne, Harry Styles & The War On Drugs. Lucius make classicist AOR pop songs in the ABBA-Fleetwood Mac-dance-pop tradition, and while overlaying electronic beats and synths onto this kind of soncraft isn’t original, their superior writing & vocals have made them stand out. ‘Second nature’ is more classy glistening beats and soaring beautiful duel vocals, that propel the songs into the pop stratosphere. Melancholy in places, yet with an overall feeling of triumph over adversity.

I’ll be yours / Americans (Musical group)
Mark: The 2017 debut album from this LA based roots-rock trio, whose follow up release ‘Stand True’ has just been released. They featured as the ‘house-band’ in the critically acclaimed PBS documentary series American Epic that was produced by Jack White & T Bone Burnett. ‘I’ll be yours’ is an ‘Americana’ album that feels completely authentic and not just another exercise in stylism. Emotional vignettes incorporate elements of power-pop, country-rock, blues, working class rock-n-roll & acoustic ballads, and create a sound that seems to reference everything from Springsteen, to Dylan, to Tom Waits, to The Jayhawks while also sounding completely original.

Targala, la maison qui n’en est pas une. / Parrenin, Emmanuelle
Mark: 73 year old Emmanuelle Parrenin is a cult French musician whose debut solo album came out in 1977. A singer, harpist & hurdy-gurdy player she began in the traditional folk genre, but her strange life & musical journey has taken her through punk, techno and the avant-garde. Parrenin spent her first period of lockdown on the edge of the desert in Morocco, having been invited there to play a festival, and this album is a kind of psych-folk meander of ambient harp, dulcimer, synths, guitars, percussion & saxophones, creating an atmosphere that has the feel of a shimmering desert dream. The most unique & original music is being made on the fringes like this, and you won’t find a more interesting or haunting ambient album than this.

Box Set Pick:
David Hepworth : deep 70s : underrated cuts from a misunderstood decade.
Mark: David Hepworth is a British music journalist, editor & writer, who launched a number of popular magazines in the 80s & 90s, including Mojo & Empire. In 2021, his book Never a dull moment: 1971, the year that rock exploded was adapted into the Apple TV+ documentary mini-series 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything. He has curated new box set ‘Deep 70s: Underrated Cuts From A Misunderstood Decade’ with the aim of proving his hypothesis that this decade was the most fertile in terms of the music being created and that “More occured between 1971 and 1979 than in any period of music before or since”… Thematically across 4 CDs (one for American acts, one for British acts, one on “hell raisers” from both countries, and one on female performers) he makes a great case with a collection of obscure (though mainstream) gems. Full of great discoveries for the music fan that chooses to seek out the deep cuts beyond the surface charts.

New DVDs for Te Awe: Part 2

Here are some new DVDs added to the catalogue over June-July, available at our CBD Te Awe branch and selected other locations.

New Material:
The Batman
Ambulance
Cinderella
Benedetta
Umma
Succession. The complete first season
Succession. The complete second season
Succession. The complete third season
Morbius
Doctor Who [2005]. Eve of the Daleks & Legend of the Sea Devils
Perfumes
The Madame Blanc mysteries. Series 1
Escape from Mogadishu
The Chelsea detective. Series 1
Blood & treasure. Season one
All creatures great & small. Series two ; Christmas special
Bad samaritan
Apache Junction
Hatching
Fantastic beasts. The secrets of Dumbledore
Ted K : the unabomber














New DVDs for Te Awe: Part 1

Here are some new DVDs added to the catalogue over June-July, available at our CBD Te Awe branch and selected other locations.

New Material:
Limbo
Room 203
Signed, sealed, delivered. The vows we have made
Clean
Under the vines. Series 1
Silent hours
Rosa’s wedding
Mystery 101. Collection two
A magical journey
Leonardo. Season one
Drive my car
Licorice pizza
La Brea. Season one
Fatherhood
Call the midwife. Series eleven ; Christmas special
After dark : neo-noir cinema. Collection one
Red rocket
Panama
Dauntless : the Battle of Midway
Gunda
Trigger point

New Crafts and Hobbies Books to Curl Up With This Winter

As we embrace the peak of the winter season, you may find yourselves holed up at home longer than usual and in search of something cozy. Why not celebrate this glorious hibernation mood by snuggling up with a comfy duvet on your couch, sipping a newly brewed vanilla chai tea and crafting your day away?

If you find your fingers frozen these winter mornings, we offer you these recently acquired titles to keep you all warm and bundled up to ward off the winter blues. From needle to fabric work, create simple wardrobe embroidery to upcycle your clothes; or alternatively, choose from a combination of 100+ cross stitch patterns of borders, alphabets, and motifs to create a design you want. For some “yarnspiration”, there are knitting projects to explore and enjoy that suit every crafters varying skill level – from a simple teacup coaster to a garden of cute Amigurumi flowers.

Perhaps you are just wanting to settle into a good book and let the day unfold slowly. Embrace the warmth that a good ol’ knitted sweater gives, while enjoying Osman Yousefzada’s memoir as a child growing up in Birmingham, or learning about the significance of colours in clothing throughout history.

These are just a few of handicraft projects and reads to choose from to keep your creative heart warm!

Wardrobe embroidery : knit & embroidery projects for upcycling clothes / Bolstad, Warunee
“In Wardrobe Embroidery, Warunee Bolstad of @plystreknitwear shows you how to easily breathe new life into your wardrobe by adding embroidery to clothes both old and new. Warunee presents a collection of charming embroidery patterns, ranging from beginner-friendly hearts and daisies to intricate floral arrangements. Use these lovely designs to freshen up worn out blouses and jeans or to personalize plain white t-shirts and boring bags.  From classic crewnecks and cabled cardigans to elegant handbags and cozy neckwarmers, these beautiful and simple designs offer sustainable style for everyday life. “–Amazon (Adapted from Catalogue)

100+ cross stitch patterns to mix and match : motifs and borders, plus 21 alphabets / Greenoff, Jane
“From flowers to cottages, birds and bees to holiday and sampler-style motifs, 100+ Cross Stitch Patterns to Mix and Match is bursting with exciting cross stitch designs to make! It’s easy to combine them (Jane teaches you how), and you’ll be ready to make a special stitched piece for any occasion. ” — Back cover. “With the 100+ motif and border patterns in this book, it’s easy to combine them to make your own cross stitch designs. The 21 unique cross stitch alphabets, made to coordinate with the motifs in a variety of styles, allow you to add words to complement your ideas”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Knitting : 20 mindful makes to reconnect head, heart & hands / Kludje, Sicgmone
“Knitting (Conscious Crafts) is a contemporary craft project book presenting over 20 projects for beginners. In Knitting (Conscious Crafts), co-founders of the Black Girl Knit Club unpick the meditative nature of the knitting process and its empowering skill set for creating, well-being and mindfulness. Making is mindfulness made practical, and knitting is an iconic craft proven to have a therapeutic impact on well-being. Sicgmone Kludje and Vea Koranteng have curated 20 modern makes, ranging from plant pot cosies to throws and snoods, to introduce the basics of knitting. Covering fundamental stitches and techniques including casting on, knit, pearl and moss stitch, Sicgmone and Vea show how these can be adapted for different projects as well as repurposing used textiles into your own upcycled yarn, all whilst embracing the restorative benefits of craft.” (Catalogue)

Kawaii crochet garden : 40 super cute amigurumi patterns for plants and more / Bradley, Melissa
“Crochet a garden of kawaii happiness with this super-cute collection of 40 patterns! Cultivate a colorful world of crochet flowers, plants, and garden creatures that are perfect for gifting, and learn the simple crochet techniques needed for everything to come up roses”–Page 4 of cover.” (Catalogue)

 

Nordic knits : 44 beautiful patterns to knit and keep you cozy / Flanders, Sue
“Nordic Knits offers 50 authentic, Scandinavian-inspired patterns for hats, mittens, and gloves-including stylish, traditional projects from Sweden, Norway, and Iceland”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The color of fashion : the story of clothes in ten colors / Young, Caroline
“The Color of Fashion is a stunning coffee table book with fascinating stories of fashion woven throughout history with COLOR. Whether it’s mellow yellow, in the pink, feeling blue, or green with envy, COLOR is so entwined with our emotions that there are countless expressions and song lyrics devoted to it. But what meaning does color have in what we wear? What does a green dress convey when worn to a cocktail party, what significance does a white trouser suit have when worn by a female politician, and why does a woman in red command attention?” (Catalogue)

The go-between : a portrait of growing up between different worlds / Yousefzada, Osman
“A coming-of-age story set in Birmingham in the 1980s and 1990s, The Go-Between opens a window into a closed migrant community living in a red-light district on the wrong side of the tracks. The adult world is seen through Osman’s eyes as a child: his own devout Pashtun patriarchal community, with its divide between the world of men and women, living cheek-by-jowl with parallel migrant communities. The stories Osman tells, some fantastical and humorous, others melancholy and even harrowing, take us from the Birmingham of Osman’s childhood to the banks of the river Kabul and the river Indus, and, eventually, to the London of his teenage years. Osman weaves in and out of these worlds, struggling with the dual burdens of racism and community expectations, as he is forced to realise it is no longer possible to exist in the spaces in between.”–Publisher’s description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

July’s New Music for Te Awe: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our new Music Picks for July. You can catch up with Part 1 here. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? Read on to find out…

How to let go. / Sigrid
Mark: Sigrid is a Norwegian pop singer. After her debut EP in 2017 she won the BBC Music Sound of 2018, and her 2019 debut Sucker Punch was a smash hit globally. ‘How to Let Go’ follows on from her debut with more propulsive pop, with a more assured and personal maturation. Clubby bangers sit next to piano based introspection, all of which focuses on themes of positive messaging to young women, taking charge of your life, and leaving behind people and feelings that hold you back. It’s easy to see fellow Scandinavian artists like Lykke Li, and early Robyn as influences, but she follows her own path. Modern pop at its best.

Neil: Sigrid’s ‘How to let go’ is a cathartic, euphoric, uplifting, hugely optimistic, and full of rose-tinted joy release. An easy-to-listen-to sugar rush of a feel-good pop album, that deliberately aims for fun and straight-down-the-line pop, with anthemic lyrics, and feel-good positive vibes that prevail above all else.

Giving the world away. / Hatchie
Mark: The second full-length album from Brisbane’s Harriette Pilbeam, who records under the moniker Hatchie, breaks away from the simplicity of her previous work. The Covid lockdown spurred her to look inward and focus on making music with a deeper lyrical bent. Jorge Elbrecht (Sky Ferreira, Japanese Breakfast) produces and Olivia Rodrigo has a writing collaboration on Quicksand, which is indicative of the new level she has reached. A showcase of super catchy dream-pop & hooky shoegaze, that melds the Cocteau Twins (Robin Guthrie remixed an early single) with Natalie Imbruglia.

Neil: ‘Giving the world away’ by Hatchie is an Australian dream pop outing replete with fuzzy reverbed guitars and sweet ghost vibe vocals. It’s a sparking, glittering effort with indie sensibilities, and with sonic nods to the likes of Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins especially with regards to those guitar sounds. This, her second release, sounds more mature, expansive, and rounded, with lyrics that largely focus on dreamy pandemic introspection.

Radiate like this. / Warpaint
Mark: The female LA indie rockers return after a 6 year break. 2016’s Heads Up seems a long time ago in the scheme of things, and the bands new music was directly affected by the last few years. With parts recorded separately, the album feels more layered and introspective, less arty rock and more warmer synths. The dreamy vocals curl around the songs, creating a smoky late night vibe. A moody album that seems full of slow gossamer production that drifts over you, but reveals more with each listen.

Neil: It has been six years since Warpaints last release, but you would never suspect it from listening to their new release: a confident spacy intricate dream-pop work, with a sense of itself and displaying no sense of trepidation. ‘Radiate like this’ solidifies their unique lyrical approach, which is displayed to great effect in the studied ambiguity behind much of their lyrical content. A sophisticated indie-pop release with shoegaze inflections, the album displays a languid beauty, and is another release that repays repeated listens.

KiCk i. / Arca
Mark: The 2020 fourth album from Venezuelan boundary pushing electronic singer-composer-producer Alejandra Ghersi, AKA Arca, and the first album as an openly non-binary artist, after 2017’s Arca. The ‘KiCk’ project includes another 4 albums that were all released in late 2021. Collaborators on this installment include Bjork, Shygirl, Rosalia & Sophie. It’s almost impossible to encapsulate the music happening here: rattling shifts between hip-hop, reggaeton, glitchy noise, IDM, hyper-pop, Venezuelan party music, soaring vocal ballads, all create a kind of sensory overload. The stylistic clashes can come off as grating, but there is so much going on that each track takes you in a new direction. There’s much to appreciate here if you commit to the album as whole and embrace her deconstructionist experimental style.

Neil: Hyperpop is perhaps the most uniquely 21st century of musical forms, its origins can be traced to around 2010, and the work of artists such as Sophie and A.G. Cook. ‘Kick I’ is very much a maximalist hyperpop album in that genres mould, and features a glittering array of guest artists such as Shygirl, Björk and Sophie (recorded before their tragic death). If you are unfamiliar with the genre, it’s comprised of high energy, heavily layered, genre jumping, experimental sounds, mashed together into dancefloor tracks. Arca really embraces the joy in this and who they as a person. The album revels in the in-between spaces present in genres, languages, and genders, and is a bold experimental and radical dancefloor album that is genuinely exciting to listen to.

Ivory. / Apollo, Omar
Mark: The full length debut from this Indiana artist. Beginning as a teen making lo-fi bedroom pop, he scored some high profile single collaborations, but this debut has been a long time in gestation. Listening you can immediately tell why: every element has been carefully considered & constructed from the crisp production, the sweetly soulful double tracked falsetto vocals, the easy shift between bedroom pop, R&B, Hip-Hop, and acoustic guitar. So many albums shift genres, but few do it with a cohesiveness as this. His beguiling voice makes it all seem so natural.

Neil: Omar Apollo has shifted his musical focus in ‘Ivory’ his latest release, moving away from being a purely R&B artist, to becoming a more diverse and genre jumping musician – though R&B is still the core influence here. In working with a wider and much more expansive pallet, he gives himself so many more musical options to explore, with his trademark falsetto voice still very much to the fore. He manages to do this all without the tracks sounding forced or contrived and has created one of those albums in which the artist reimagines himself, and in doing so, re-calibrates his musical horizons.

Down every road. / Reed, Eli “Paperboy”
Mark: Eli “Paperboy” Reed is best known as a retro-soul-blues revivalist, but his latest album takes a new direction, tackling the songs of Country legend Merle Haggard. A traditionalist, Reed imbues these tracks with plenty of Stax & Muscle Shoals styled southern soul elements. Woodwinds, two saxes, a trumpet and a trombone complement his own quartet without eclipsing the emotional centre of any the songs, and his rugged voice fits crisply into this short set of well arranged slow-burning tracks. Makes a valid case that the lines between Country and Soul were never as broad as they seemed. We also just purchased a Merle Haggard box set, so if you want to compare these versions to the originals check this out: Merle Haggard – Down every road : 1962-1994.

Neil: This raw and inspired country, soul album features twelve songs from Merle Haggard, and unusually passes on the usual country approach to Haggard’s songs, opting instead for a more soul vibe reminiscent of the Stax records studio inhouse sound. It works well, as the soul belter approach to the material fits the selected material perfectly, and it all sounds like an album that could have easily been released in the late 60’s or early 70’s – which is obviously the intention.

Chelsea Jade’s soft spot. / Chelsea Jade
Mark: Sophomore album from the underrated NZ singer. Arguably as good as Lorde or Benee she has yet to achieve the success of those artists. Synthy airy electro-pop, sinuous dreamy vocals and sensual lyrics. Only 9 tracks but it feels like a full album of ideas & moods.

Neil: New Zealander Chelsea Jade releases her second album. Now resident in L.A. the move has widened her musical vocabulary Soft spot is replete with relatable and accessible pop songs that reveal a deeper edge than most in the genre. They show a surprisingly mellow, vulnerable, seductive, and beautiful side to her work. It was her friend Lorde who persuaded her to release her first album and perhaps this is the one that will finally push her into the limelight of stardom.

Breaking the thermometer. / McCalla, Leyla
Mark: The 4th album from this Haitian-American singer, songwriter, arranger, cellist, and multi-instrumentalist, who is also a member of folk-roots supergroup Our Native Daughters along with Rhiannon Giddens, Allison Russell, and Amythyst Kiah. This project was commissioned by Duke University in North Carolina, and digs into the Haitian past of of racial, social, and political unrest & the role of Radio Haiti during the oppressive regimes of the republic. If this all sounds very academic the music is anything but. Jazz tinged vocals, songs in English & French, spoken word passages from people detailing their experiences, form a melancholy yet ultimately hopeful ode to her ancestry & history. A truly unique listen.

Neil: Sung mostly in Creole Leyla McCalla explores her ancestral roots in Haiti, after being asked to interact with the Radio Haiti archive. The resulting album has a multimedia feel to it, with archival audio clips from the station interspersed with songs about the station, and the wider political and social situation it frequently reported on. Radio Haiti the station confronted, often at great personal risk, the brutality and corruption of successive regimes in Haiti. It is a potent work that showcases Leyla’s unique and distinctive voice, evident both in her singing and her musical arrangements. There are sophisticated passages of afro-Caribbean rhythms, as well as Latin-American influenced Cello’s, guitars, and banjos amongst other instruments. It is superbly executed and well worth the listeners attention.

Women In Sport

This week celebrations began in cities across Aotearoa and Australia, as the one-year countdown to the  2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup began. As Aotearoa ramps up to co-host the biggest competition in women’s sport, we take a look into our collection to highlight and celebrate the personal journeys, and storied histories of the women who achieve at the highest sporting levels.This curated collection of books and eBooks celebrates the visibility and empowerment of women, who set the benchmark ever-higher in their sporting professions. Learn about the extraordinary leadership, resilience and strengths exhibited by these women, who are driven to succeed and thrive in a predominantly male-oriented arena. Explore how women in sport are challenging gender-norms, defying harmful stereotypes, and inspiring the next generation of athletes to continue to reshape the changing landscape of popular sports.

Kicking off : how women in sport are changing the game / Shephard, Sarah
“There’s a battle being fought. It’s raging on the sports fields, in the newsrooms and behind the scenes at every major broadcaster. Women in sport are fighting for equality with more vigour than ever, but are they breaking down the barriers that stand in their way? Sarah Shephard looks behind the headlines to see whether progress is really being made and tells the stories that can no longer be ignored, to reveal the personal experiences of being at the top of the game.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Under the Lights and In the Dark, Gwendolyn Oxenham (ebook)
“From precarious positions in underfunded teams and leagues, to sold-out stadiums, Oxenham tells the stories of the phenoms, underdogs, and nobodies of women’s football – players willing to follow the game wherever it takes them. Whether you’re a newcomer to the sport or a die-hard fan, this is an inspiring book about stars’ beginnings and adventures, struggles and hardship, and, above all, the time-honored romance of the game.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Running hot / Tamati, Lisa
“Lisa Tamati was the first New Zealand woman to compete in the The Badwater ultramarathon through Death Valley in the United States, one of the world’s toughest races. But Lisa’s story is so much more than that one race. At the age of 19 she suffered a crippling back injury and was told she should give up running. She took that as a challenge and went on to run an unassisted crossing of the Libyan Desert. What happened in that desert would change the course of Lisa’s life and instill in her a love of desert running. Running Hot is a story of a life lived to the max – a story of challenges, setbacks, heartbreaks and triumph.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Game On, Sue Anstiss (ebook)
“Sport has an extraordinary, unique capacity to challenge and change society – to bring joy and hope; to improve physical and mental health, reduce loneliness and build self-esteem and happiness. In recent years, the landscape for women’s sport has finally begun to shift – we are now witnessing positive change as never before. Game On is a celebration of the trailblazing women opening doors for others and a manifesto for women’s sport – a rallying cry to ensure the progress we are currently seeing goes from strength to strength.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The warm sun on my face : the story of women’s cricket in New Zealand / Auger, Trevor
“This is the story of women’s cricket in New Zealand, from its earliest humble origins to its glory days on the international stage. It is also the story of the women who have come to be recognised amongst the very best in the world at their sport. It is the story of a game played for the sheer love of it, and of the hard work of the dedicated souls who built and sustained women’s cricket, often in the face of challenge and adversity.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Strong Like Her, Haley Shapley (ebook)
“Beautiful and powerful, Strong Like Her presents the awe-inspiring account of women’s athleticism throughout history. Part group biography, part cultural history, Shapley delves into the fascinating stories of our muscular foremothers, to celebrate strength in all its forms. Illuminating the lives and accomplish­ments of storied female sports stars, whose con­tributions to society go far beyond their entries in record books, Shapley challenges us to rethink everything we thought we knew about the power of women.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Marginalia and curses: New crime and mystery titles

julien brachhammer illuminated manuscript by GIF IT UP

In this month’s selection of recently acquired crime and mystery titles we have The Twyford code by Janice Hallett, a book with a very intriguing premise where it appears that a book’s marginalia holds the clues to solving a mystery. The novel has already proved hugely popular with critics and readers alike with some comparing her writing to that of Agatha Christie.

We would never encourage creating your own marginalia in library books, it is however a subject with a rich, long, and deep history. Marginalia are marks made in the margins of a book or other document. They vary widely; from full commentaries on works, to medieval illuminations, scribbles and secret codes. Marginalia began before the printing press was invented, when scholars often short of writing materials would write notes for future readers in the margins of works. Medieval monks would create vivid works of art in the margins, often with blasphemous or scandalous content, such as the Pope playing cards with animals.

In Shakespeare’s time it wasn’t unusual for people to write magical spells into the margins of books, sometimes love spells and sometimes curses. The poet Keats’ heavily personalised version of Paradise Lost has given scholars of this work a fascinating insight into the poets mind. One of the most famous of all marginalia came from the mathematician Fermat, a seventeenth century French lawyer and amateur mathematician who used the margins in his books to write extensive notes. In one of these books he wrote about the theorem on how to split a given square number into two other squares, stating “I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.” His proof was never found in his papers, leading to the mystery of Fermat’s Last Theorem which was only solved in 1995.

The late 1800’s saw a huge shift in attitude to marginalia, which came about with a religious drive to make books pure and unsullied. Libraries would guillotine margins off books and even bleach old books to remove extra markings of any kind.

The Twyford code / Hallett, Janice
“Steven Smith has just been released from prison, and he is finally free to investigate a mystery that has haunted him since childhood. Forty years ago, he found a copy of a famous children’s book, full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his remedial English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced that it was the key to solving a puzzle. That a message in secret code ran through all Edith Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Isles disappeared, and Steven’s memory won’t allow him to remember what happened. Did she sense her own imminent death? Was she right about the code? And is it still in use today? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fifty-four pigs / Schott, Philipp
“A swine barn explodes near a lakeside Manitoba town, putting veterinarian Dr. Peter Bannerman on a collision course with murder and a startling conspiracy. Peter is an odd duck, obsessed with logic and measurable facts, an obsession he puts to good use in his veterinary practice. When a murder is connected to the swine barn explosion and his friend Tom becomes the prime suspect, Peter feels compelled to put his reasoning skills, and his dog Pippin’s remarkable nose, to use to help clear him…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The murder of Mr. Wickham / Gray, Claudia
“After many years of happy marriage, Emma Knightley and her husband are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances-not all of whom are well known to the Knightleys but are certainly beloved by every Jane Austen fan: Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Marianne and Colonel Brandon, Anne and Captain Wentworth, and Fanny and Edmund Bertram.  Yet the Knightleys and their guests are all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered-except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst. With everyone a suspect, it falls to the house party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sunset swing / Celestin, Ray
“Los Angeles. Christmas, 1967. A young nurse, Kerry Gaudet, travels to the City of Angels desperate to find her missing brother, fearing that something terrible has happened to him: a serial killer is terrorising the city, picking victims at random, and Kerry has precious few leads. Ida Young, recently retired private investigator, is dragged into helping the police when a young woman is discovered murdered in her motel room. Ida has never met the victim but her name has been found at the crime scene and the LAPD wants to know why… ” (Adapted from Catalogue

A rip through time / Armstrong, Kelley
“May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness. May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Thomson had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot. When Mallory wakes up in Catriona’s body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Two nights in Lisbon / Pavone, Chris
“Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone–no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong. She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new–much younger–husband? The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Vine street / Nolan, Dominic
“Soho, 1935. This was his London. ‘Savage beautiful, mesmeric. It’s impossible not to marvel at the detail, at the sheer richness of each and every scene. Sergeant Leon Geat’s patch. A snarling, skull-cracking misanthrope, Geats marshals the grimy rabble according to his own elastic moral code. The narrow alleys are brimming with jazz bars, bookies, blackshirts, ponces and tarts so when a body is found above the Windmill Club, detectives are content to dismiss the case as just another young woman who topped herself early. But Geats – a good man prepared to be a bad one if it keeps the worst of them at bay – knows the dark seams of the city…” (Catalogue)

Razzmatazz : a novel / Moore, Christopher
“San Francisco, 1947. Bartender Sammy ‘Two Toes’ Tiffin and the rest of the Cookie’s Coffee Irregulars, a ragtag bunch of working mugs last seen in Noir, are on the hustle: they’re trying to open a driving school for Chinatown residents; shanghai an abusive Swedish stevedore; get Mable, the local madam, and her girls to a Christmas party at the State Hospital without alerting the overzealous head of the S.F.P.D. vice squad; all while Sammy’s girlfriend, Stilton (a.k.a. the Cheese), and her ‘Wendy the Welder’ gal palsmight be attracting the attention of some government Men in Black. And, oh yeah, someone is murdering the city’s drag kings and club owner Jimmy Vasco is sure she’s next on the list …” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bizarre book clubs and pigeon kings: New non-fiction

The star of this month’s new non-fiction is the essay! Short, specific, and wonderfully creative, essay collections allow you to dip in and out of a book without having to commit to hundreds of pages on one topic (let’s be honest, this is often one of the most intimidating things about a hefty non-fiction tome). Of course, for the collections we’ve highlighted here, we’re certain that by the time you start reading you won’t want to skip a single chapter.

First we have How to Be a Bad Muslim, a rich and illuminating book that draws on author Mohamed Hassan’s own experience as a Muslim man in Aotearoa and elsewhere, written with a poet’s deft skill. There’s a bit of a queue for this one, but it’s worth the wait – you can place a reserve by following the link below. As to the other essay collections, we also have Elena Ferrante’s new book In the Margins, where she explores what it means to break through the margins in both literature and in life, and Serious Face by Jon Mooallem, where you’ll find the titular Pigeon King amongst other eccentric tales.

If essays aren’t your thing, some other items of interest for this month include the story of a state-sponsored book club in The Stasi Poetry Circle, the captivating and wide-ranging history of textile art in Fabric, and The Secret of Emu Field which explores the deadly and often-overlooked British nuclear tests in AustraliaYou can read more about each of these below.

How to be a bad Muslim : and other essays / Hassan, Mohamed
“This is the breakout non-fiction book from award-winning New Zealand writer Mohamed Hassan. From Cairo to Takapuna, Athens to Istanbul, How To Be A Bad Muslim maps the personal and public experience of being Muslim through essays on identity, Islamophobia, surveillance, migration and language. Traversing storytelling, memoir, journalism and humour, Hassan speaks authentically and piercingly on mental health, grief and loss, while weaving memories of an Egyptian immigrant fighting childhood bullies, listening to life-saving ’90s grunge and auditioning for vaguely-ethnic roles in a certain pirate movie franchise. At once funny and chilling, elegiac and eye-opening, this is a must-read book from a powerfully talented writer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Stasi poetry circle : the creative writing class that tried to win the Cold War / Oltermann, Philip
“Morale is at rock bottom in East Germany, thrown into chaos by the new Berlin Wall. The Ministry for State Security is hunting for a new weapon in the war against capitalism, but rather than guns, tanks, or bombs, the Stasi resolve to fight the enemy through rhyme and verse – and the result is the most bizarre book club in history. The ‘Working Group of Writing Chekists’ met monthly from 1962 until the Wall fell. The regime hoped that poetry would sharpen the Stasi’s ‘party sword’, but as the agents became steeped in poetry, revelling in its imaginative ambiguity, the result was the opposite. Rather than entrenching state ideology, they began to radically question it. Both a gripping true story and a parable about creativity in a surveillance state, this is history writing at its finest.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the margins : on the pleasures of reading and writing / Ferrante, Elena
“From the internationally acclaimed author of My Brilliant Friend and The Lying Life of Adults, come four revelatory pieces offering rare insight into the author’s formation as a writer and life as a reader. Ferrante warns us of the perils of “bad language” and advocates for a collective fusion of female talent as she brilliantly discourses on the work of her most beloved authors.” (Adapted from Amazon UK)

Fabric : the hidden history of the material world / Finlay, Victoria
“From our earliest ancestors to babies born today, fabric is a necessary part of our everyday lives, but it’s also an opportunity for creativity, symbolism, culture and connection. Travelling across the world and bringing history to life, bestselling author Victoria Finlay investigates how and why people have made and used cloth. A century ago in Wales, women would sew their own funeral clothes over tea with friends. In Papua New Guinea, bark is stripped from trees and beaten into cloth. Harris Tweed has a particular smell, while Guatemalan weavers use dazzling colours. Uncovering the stories of the fabrics people wear and use from sacking to silk, Fabric combines science, history, tradition and art in a captivating exploration of how we live, work, craft and care.” (Catalogue)

The secret of Emu Field : Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia / Tynan, Elizabeth
“Emu Field is overshadowed by Maralinga, the larger and much more prominent British atomic test site about 193 kilometres to the south. But Emu Field has its own secrets. Only at Emu Field did a terrifying black mist speed across the land after an atomic bomb detonation, bringing death and sickness to Aboriginal populations in its path. The area was difficult and inaccessible – so why did the British go there at all, when they knew that they wouldn’t stay? What happened to the air force crew who flew through the atomic clouds? And why was Emu Field abandoned quickly after the expense and effort of setting it up? Tynan reveals the story of a cataclysmic collision between an ancient Aboriginal land and post-war Britain.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Serious face : essays / Mooallem, Jon
“Beneath the self-assured and serious faces we wear, every human life is full of longing, guesswork, and confusion – a scramble to do the best we can and make everything up as we go along. In these wide-ranging essays, Jon Mooallem chronicles the beauty of our blundering and the inescapability of our imperfections. He investigates the collapse of a multimillion-dollar bird-breeding scam run by an aging farmer known as the Pigeon King, intimately narrates a harrowing escape from California’s deadliest wildfire, visits an eccentric Frenchman building a town at what he claims is the centre of the world, shadows a man through his first day of freedom after twenty-one years in prison, and more – all with a deep conviction that it’s our vulnerability, not our victories, that connect us.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The unusual suspect : the remarkable true story of a modern-day Robin Hood / Machell, Ben
“It is 2007, a time of recession and impending climate crisis, and one young man decides to change the world. Meet Stephen Jackley, a British geography student with Asperger’s Syndrome. Aged just twenty-one, obsessed with the idea of Robin Hood, and with no prior experience, he resolved to become a bank robber. Jackley used disguise, elaborate escape routes and replica pistols to successfully hold up a string of banks, making away with thousands of pounds. Bank notes marked with ‘RH’ – ‘Robin Hood’ – began finding their way into the hands of the homeless. The police, despite their concerted efforts, had no idea what was going on or who was responsible – until Jackley’s ambition got the better of him.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Being you : a new science of consciousness / Seth, Anil
Being You is not as simple as it sounds. Somehow, within each of our brains, billions of neurons work to create our conscious experience. How does this happen? Why do we experience life in the first person? After over twenty years researching the brain, world-renowned neuroscientist Anil Seth puts forward a radical new theory of consciousness and self. His unique theory of what it means to ‘be you’ challenges our understanding of perception and reality and turns what you thought you knew about yourself on its head.” (Adapted from Amazon UK)

“Second star to the right” – New Sci Fi & Fantasy

Down through the ages since its publication in 1904, first as a play and then in 1911 as a novel, the world of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has long held a fascinating appeal to numerous authors of adult books. The work has become an iconic representation of youthful innocence and escapism, which has proved highly tempting to others for further exploration, as it provides a richly imagined world to explore. It also touches on numerous deep themes such as childhood, imagination and the passage from childhood to adulthood, amongst others. Books such as Lost Boy by Christina Henry or the highly recommended the Child Thief by Brom have expanded and added to Barrie’s world. The only officially authorised sequel, Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, was published in 2006.

In this month’s recently acquired science fiction and fantasy selection, we find a new title joining these illustrious ranks. God of Neverland by Gama Ray Martinez reimagines the world of Neverland, where a grown-up Michael Darling has to return to save from disaster, and find out what has happened to a mysteriously absent Peter.

Peter Pan the character first appears in an even earlier Barrie adult novel The Little White Bird, as a seven-day old baby half bird half boy. Barrie based the character on his own brother David, who died in a tragic accident when he was fourteen. There have been countless film and stage adaptations of the story, with theatre productions traditionally using young actresses to play Peter. With the name Pan being a nod to the Greek deity. In 1929 Barrie gifted the copyright and associated royalties of the work  To Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, as did Geraldine McCaughrean for her sequel.

God of Neverland / Martinez, Gama Ray
“In this magical re-imagining of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, Michael Darling–the youngest of the Darling siblings and former Lost Boy, now all grown up–must return to the life he left behind to save Neverland from the brink of collapse and keep humanity safe from magical and mythological threats, as well as answer the ultimate question: Where is Peter Pan?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Siren queen / Vo, Nghi
” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill-but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid. But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her …” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The sea rises / Smith, A. J.
“Lord Marius Cyclone faces an unimaginable danger. The mighty legions of Santago Cyclone – known as the Bloodied Harp – and King Oliver Dawn Claw will be upon the Dark Harbour in less than a day, and truce seems impossible, even as the end of the world of Form creeps ever nearer. But the tide waits for no man. Marius has only one choice if his people are to survive: flight, into the Void. Meanwhile, a primal power awakens. The Sunken God has lived through many ages; watched countless civilisations rise and fall. And he will not let his quarry flee without a fight.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

One foot in the fade / Arnold, Luke
“An angel falls in a downtown street. His wings are feathered, whole–undeniably magical–the man clearly flew, because he left one hell of a mess when he plummeted into the sidewalk. But what sent him up? What brought him down? And will the answers help Fetch bring the magic back for good? Working alongside necromancers, genies, and shadowy secret societies, through the wildest forests and dingiest dive bars, this case will leave its mark on Fetch’s body, his soul, and the fate of the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Spear / Griffith, Nicola
“The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court. And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mercury Rising / Greene, R. W. W
“Brooklyn…just wants to keep his head down…But life gets real complicated when a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes sets him up for murder. So, his choices are limited–rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland…Brooklyn is launched into a quest to save humanity…while simultaneously coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments, and the realisation that the true enemies perhaps aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster–Or are they?”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The last beekeeper / Gulian, Jared
“Jim Parker, a honeybee expert, has retreated to a small island in Lake Michigan with his teenage daughter . In the midst of a Global Bee Crisis, bees everywhere are dying and the food supply teeters on the brink of collapse. But this island is not the haven Jim once thought. Someone is torching his traditional beehives, people are disappearing, and an unknown threat is lurking in the woods behind his house. When he finds something very peculiar in his remaining hives, he begins to unravel a mystery that is deeper, darker and more complex than he ever imagined. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The devil’s dictionary / Kotler, Steven
” Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn, protagonist of Last Tango, is the first of his kind-an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen. The Devil’s Dictionary finds Lion Zorn enmeshed with a strange subculture: polyamorous crypto-currency fiends with a tendency toward eco-terrorism. Called in to track down the origin of these exotics, Lion quickly finds himself entangled in a battle for the survival of our species .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

July’s New Music for Te Awe: Part 1


via GIPHY

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

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

I’ve felt all these things. / Leone, Anna
Mark: The debut album from this Swedish singer-songwriter, whose acclaimed 2018 EP Wandered Away clocked up 18 million streams. Melancholy, tranquil, folk-pop, described by the singer herself as an exploration of “healing and solitude”. The apparent simplicity of the songs, hides layers of choral vocals, analogue atmospheric sounds and lo-fi guitars, while the lyrics explore introversion, loneliness & the alienation of the internet generation. However there is a sense of catharsis, that triumphs over the sombre tone of the album & its inherent sadness.
Neil: Swedish singer songwriter Anna Leone’s latest album mines a rich stream of blues folk music to create its highly introspective sound, and it’s a gentle and reflective listen, with delicate moments of intimacy. That said, when it is necessary it never shies away from covering occasionally bleak or sad emotions. Beautiful and plaintive.

Continue reading “July’s New Music for Te Awe: Part 1”

Bordering on miraculous: New poetry collections

It’s an exciting time to be reading poetry, but don’t just take our word for it; people are saying it’s “the year of poetry”. It seems like a great time to remind everyone that we have a decent poetry collection, featuring many bestselling titles from both Aotearoa and overseas.

Below, you’ll find a selection of new additions to our collection, a lot of which are already in hot demand! Some highlights include; essa may ranapiri’s Echidna (which we are huge fans of, we shared an interview with ranapiri recently), Ocean Vuong’s Time is a mother (from the author who brought us the heart breaking/building novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous) and Night School by Michael Steven (Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021). You can reserve all of these items via our online catalogue. 

This is also a great time to mention our new YouTube playlist – Poet Interviews. Check out our most recent interview with writer Khadro Mohamed below. If you are a local poet with a book coming out soon, let us know! We’d love to chat with you! 


Anomalia / Chung, Cadence
“Populated with strange specimens, cicada husks and glittering gems, these poems explore the love and cruelty of human nature. Chung is in conversation with her literary ancestors, from Sappho to Byron, bringing their work into the world of sparkly eyeshadow and McDonald’s bathrooms”–Gatefold cover.” (Catalogue)

Night school / Steven, Michael
“Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021, poet Michael Steven’s Night School explores the gap between fathers and sons, the effects of toxic masculinity, how power corrupts and corrodes, and whether weed, art and aroha can save us in a godless world.” (Catalogue)

We’re all made of lightning / Mohamed, Khadro
“Khadro Mohamed expertly navigates the experience of being a Muslim women in Aotearoa, bringing us along on her journey of selfhood. Shifting between Aotearoa, Egypt and Somalia, we get a glimpse into her worlds, which are rich and full of life. Mohamed has a sense of wonder for the world around her, exploring nature, food, family and identity. This book is a love letter to her homeland, her whakapapa, and herself.” (Catalogue)

Echidna, or The many adventures of Hinenākahirua as she tries to find her place in a colonised world : including throught is the story of Māui-Pōtiki & Prometheus / Ranapiri, Essa May
“Echidna is a dangerous animal; she pokes holes in men just to remind them what kind of monster she is wakes up every single morning and chooses violence cos what choice does she really have? essa may ranapiri’s second poetry collection follows the story of Echidna, their own interpretation of the Greek Mother of Monsters, as she tries to figure out life and identity living in a colonised world. “–Publisher’s information.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Time is a mother / Vuong, Ocean
“Ocean Vuong’s second collection of poetry looks inward, on the aftershocks of his mother’s death, and the struggle – and rewards – of staying present in the world. Time Is a Mother moves outward and onward, in concert with the themes of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, as Vuong continues, through his work, his profound exploration of personal trauma, of what it means to be the product of an American war in America, and how to circle these fragmented tragedies to find not a restoration, but the epicenter of the break”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Bordering on miraculous / Edmeades, Lynley
“A frame of clouds a slice of sky a window full of doubt-soaked borders. Here we are listening to the hypernated sound of clouds and it is miraculous”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

The acts of oblivion / Batchelor, Paul
“The ‘Acts of Oblivion’ were a series of seventeenth-century laws enacted by both Parliamentarian and Royalist factions. Whatever their ends — pardoning revolutionary deeds, or expunging revolutionary speech from the record — they forced the people to forget. Against such injunctions, Paul Batchelor’s poems rebel. This long-awaited second collection, The Acts of Oblivion, listens in on some of England’s lost futures, such as those offered by radical but sidelined figures in the English Civil War, or by the deliberately destroyed mining communities of North East England, remembered here with bitter, illuminating force. The book also collects the acclaimed individual poems ‘Brother Coal’ and ‘A Form of Words’, alongside visions of the underworld as imagined by Homer, Lucian, Lucan, Ovid, and Dante.” (Catalogue)

The difference is spreading : fifty contemporary poets on fifty poems
“Since its inception in 2012, the online introduction to modern poetry known as ModPo has engaged tens of thousands of readers, listeners, teachers, and poets with its focus on a modern and contemporary American tradition that runs from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson up to some of today’s freshest and most experimental written and spoken verse.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine (it’s not) : poems / Alam, Taz
“A raw, honest and heartfelt poetry collection from Taz Alam – for the tough times, the great times, and everything in between.” (Catalogue)

How to burn a woman / Askew, Claire
“Claire Askew’s electrifying second collection is an investigation of power: the power of oppressive systems and their hold over those within them; the power of resilience; the power of the human heart. It licks flame across the imagination, and rewrites narratives of human desire.” (Catalogue)

 

“One of the most exciting books I’ve ever read”: New Fiction

Up until very recently Jessica Hansell (more commonly known under her rap nickname Coco Solid) has best been better known as a rapper, artist, actor and video director. Coco’s hugely popular style of  disco, rap, hip pop music has meant that Coco’s albums have been in the New Zealand top ten albums lists for almost every year one has been released. Coco also created the fabulous Māori cult adult animated comedy series Aroha Bridge, and is currently developing a forthcoming science-fiction series called Jupiter Park.  In 2019 Coco was made  a national Arts Laureate by The Arts Foundation NZ, and now the multimedia artist and musician has added best selling fiction author to her growing list of achievements.

How to Loiter in a Turf War is Coco’s debut fiction work and is loosely based on Coco’s own past in Auckland, and has been described as a hybrid novel with poetic rap elements amongst others woven into the narrative. The plot revolves around three friends who with wit and razor-sharp humour navigate the urban world they live in. The book  is also about a community experiencing dramatic change caused by gentrification. Coco’s voice throughout the novel is strong and clear and underpinned by this polymath’s fierce intellect.

It isn’t surprising that Pip Adam described the book thus “ This is one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read”.

No matter what medium Coco is working in she strives to prioritise Oceaniac narratives, wāhine, and LGBTQIA+ expression. You can borrow How to Loiter in a Turf War, along with a very small selection of our recently acquired fiction titles, below.

How to loiter in a turf war / Coco Solid
“It’s a day in the life of three friends beefing with their own city, Tamaki Makaurau. With gentrification closing in and racial tensions sweltering, the girls must cling to their friendship like a life raft, determined not to let their neighbourhood drift out to sea. Fast, ferociously brilliant, crack-up funny and unforgettably true. ‘This book paints a picture of the Auckland I grew up in – when waiting for the 025 to town was a gamble, and the answer to the question ‘where are you from?’ was an essay, not a sentence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Love marriage / Ali, Monica
“Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster. But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals. As Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Violeta : a novel / Allende, Isabel
“Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. The ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. As the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known, Violeta’s family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Pensioned off : baby boomers out to pasture / Dawson, Sue
“Retirement – is it a wasteland or a wonderland? Ruth, Trudy and some other baby boomers they meet along the way are about to find out. Drawn together by a love of music, they form a ukulele band which takes them on a journey far beyond their original intention of giving free concerts in nursing homes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Slow down, you’re here / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Kavita is stuck in a dead-end marriage, and is juggling parenting two small kids while also being the family’s main breadwinner. When an old flame offers a week away in Waiheke, she agonises but decides to accept. When she steps onto the ferry she knows she has left her family behind – but she’s not sure for how long.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Puripāha : Te Pane Kaewa / Ihimaera, Witi
“A te reo Maori translation of Witi Ihimaera’s award-winning novel about two rival Maori families on the East Coast, Bulibasha.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

 

The island of missing trees / Shafak, Elif
“Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Woman, eating : a novel / Kohda, Claire
“Lydia is hungry. She’s always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside – the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can’t eat any of these things. Her body doesn’t work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs’ blood in London – where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time – is much more difficult than she’d anticipated…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Extremely online: New books about our digital lives

Whether we like it or not, the digital world is becoming harder to avoid. With this, there are a lot of important conversations to have around how living an online life impacts us mentally, what happens once we share our personal information with the internet and how we can determine whether what we read online is trustworthy.

The below booklist delves into some of these questions; including an exploration of online communities, how we might reimagine data access for a better world and a discussion about artificial intelligence.

Should you believe Wikipedia? : online communities and the construction of knowledge / Bruckman, Amy
“As we interact online we are creating new kinds of knowledge and community. How are these communities formed? How do we know whether to trust them as sources of information? In other words, Should we believe Wikipedia? This book explores what community is, what knowledge is, how the internet facilitates new kinds of community, and how knowledge is shaped through online collaboration and conversation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to be a woman online : surviving abuse and harassment, and how to fight back / Jankowicz, Nina
“When Nina Jankowicz’s first book on online disinformation was profiled in The New Yorker last year, she expected attention but not an avalanche of abuse and harassment, predominantly from men, online. All women in politics, journalism and academia now face untold levels of harassment and abuse in online spaces[…] Nina also uses on her own experiences to provide a step-by-step plan for dealing with harassment, abuse, doxing and disinformation in online spaces. The result is a must-read for researchers, journalists and all women with a profile in the online space”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Access rules : freeing data from big tech for a better future / Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor
“Information is power, and the time is now for digital liberation. Access Rules mounts a strong and hopeful argument for how informational tools at present in the hands of a few could instead become empowering machines for everyone. By forcing data-hoarding companies to open access to their data, we can reinvigorate both our economy and our society. Authors Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge contend that if we disrupt monopoly power and create a level playing field, digital innovations can emerge to benefit us all.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Behind the cloud : a theory of the private without secrecy / Seele, Peter
“Our thoughts are free – but they are no longer secret. Today, our data is automatically stored and analyzed by algorithms behind the cloud – where we no longer have control over our data. Our most private and secret information is entrusted to the internet and permanently collected, stacked and linked to our digital twins. With and without our consent. “Privacy is dead”, as Mark Zuckerberg put it. How could it come to this? And, if everyone knows everything: what is still private today, and are there any personal secrets at all when the “gods” behind the cloud know us better than our friends and family?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Machines like us : toward AI with common sense / Brachman, Ronald J.
“The authors of Machines Like Us explore what it would take to endow computers with the kind of common sense that humans depend on every day–critically needed for AI systems to be successful in the world and to become trustworthy”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Stolen focus : why you can’t pay attention–and how to think deeply again / Hari, Johann
“Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening-and how to get our attention back. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding it much harder to focus than he used to. He found that a life of constantly switching from device to device, from tab to tab, is diminishing and depressing. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions-even abandoning his phone for three months-but in the long-term, nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention and to study their scientific findings-and learned that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New CDs for Te Awe: Part 3


via GIPHY

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

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

Bamanan / Koné, Rokia
Mark: The debut solo album from Malian singer Rokia Koné, a member of West African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique. She teams up with mainstream American producer Jacknife Lee, who has produced albums from Taylor Swift to REM. Melding traditional world instruments with Electronica is almost a subgenre in itself now, but this avoids the pitfalls of appropriation and generic-ness that sometimes occurs in such projects, and is really one of the best examples of this endeavour. The drones, beats, swirls of technology are present and anchor the music, simmering with an urgency.

Neil: Rokia Koné is probably best known for her work with supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique. ‘Bamanan’ her debut solo outing displays her distinctive vocal gymnastics, and gloriously celebrates the vibrant richness of ancestral African music. However, the bonus extra ingredient is the inclusion of modern electronics. Added with seemingly effortless fluidity, this mix of the ultra-modern and ancient are woven into a stunning new and cohesive whole.

The Slam! years (1983-1988). / Shaeri, Hamid El
Mark: One of the biggest stars of the Arabic pop scene, Libyan-born singer-songwriter/producer Hamid El Shaeri found success with string of albums on the Cairo-based SLAM!, Egypt’s most successful record label in the 1980s. This compilation collects the highlights of those albums. Relentlessly-catchy tracks, almost impossibly funky, with fantastic old synths, merge into shimmery mellow bossa nova vibes. Reminded me a bit of the debut album from Japan’s Cornelius with its subversion of Western styles. Really great all the way through.

Neil: We have previously reviewed a couple of the Habibi Funk Records and as regular readers know we are big fans . This is another wild and wonderful dive into the Arab World of hidden ( till now) from the wider global music world. This release showcases the early work of the Arab pop superstar Hamid Al-Shaeri . It’s the Eighties, so synth pop is the order of the day, but coming from this part of the world and from this artist it has its own highly distinctive and unique voice. And from these recordings it’s easy to see why he is to this day such a huge star. The album is simultaneous strangely familiar, and yet exotically different .

Electricity. / Ibibio Sound Machine
Mark: 4th album from the London-based collective. Fronted by English-Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams, with a crew of international musicians, Ibibio Sound Machine meld West African funk and disco grooves from the 70s & 80s onto modern electronica. This differs in approach to the Rokia Koné album above, as they fully embrace the club bangers aesthetic, with vibrant Afrobeat & synthy funk. Pulsing grooves to blow your blues away.

Neil: ‘Electricity’ by Ibibio Sound Machine makes for such an exciting listen right from the get-go. There are elements of Electronica, future funk, Afrobeat and post-punk to name but a few, but all are wrapped up in a solid modern disco vibe. It’s almost impossible to listen to without wanting to get up and cut some shapes on a dance floor. Infectiously groovy.

Gyvas : live at St. Catherine Church, Vilnius, 6 November 2013 / Zalvarinis
Mark: The United Nations placed Lithuania’s unique polyphonic folk songs called sutartines on a UNESCO heritage list, and Žalvarinis are the best known Lithuanian band that combine traditional folk with rock – having been around for 20 years and released 10 studio albums. Originally a Folk-metal band, they moved towards progressive rock influences, and then more folk oriented works. This acoustic album was recorded live at the Church of St. Catherine, Vilnius, with 21 famous Lithuanian musicians of all genres, as well as a full choir. The unique instruments and playing combine with the dual female vocals to create something that is alternately pulsing with energy and also quietly haunting.

Neil: Recorded live in Vilnius this is a beautifully produced, performed, and recorded release. Showcases Žalvarinis a Lithuanian folk-rock band famous throughout their home country who have ten studio albums to their name. The intertwining and interweaving female vocals from the two lead singers, and the use or primarily (though not exclusively) acoustic instruments, gives the album a mellow, haunting, unplugged, delicate, slightly prog rock-sound.

The Radio Tisdas sessions. / Tinariwen
Mark: Reissue of the first Tinariwen album to be released outside of Northern Africa, and the world’s introduction to their Saharan desert style. Driving, sinuous guitars and call-and-response vocals. Recorded by people who has recently been literal warriors, the calmness of the music hides a edge that lies under the serene surface. The beginning of a journey that would see them become influential both within their own country, but also across the map of World Music.

Neil: ‘The Radio Tisdas Sessions’ were recorded at the desert outpost of Kidal, the Tamashek-language radio only broadcasting between 7pm and midnight because it was powered by solar panels. The album captures the bands mysterious, hypnotic desert blues style early on, before the band became world famous, and there is even a live track from the legendary Mali Festival of the desert. It is amazing stuff, and they are already at the peak of their considerable musical powers. This recording showcases their more mellow side, before later work demonstrated their hard-edged rock out. However, both are outstanding .

Midnight rocker. / Andy, Horace
Mark: Hard to think that Horace Andy is 71, as in a lot of ways this feels like a young man’s album, full of energy and vision. Produced by UK dub pioneer Adrian Sherwood the crisp production is full of quality On-U Sound musicianship, as Sherwood reimagines several Horace Andy classics, as well as some powerful new material. The themes of the older material still resonate heavily with what is happening in the world today, and this album as a whole is no doubt a future classic.

Neil: Horace Andy the legendary Dub Reggae musician now in his seventy first year releases his first album in three years. ‘Midnight Rocker’ is released on the British Dub label On-U Sound Records, famous for decades for its Dub output, and the album is produced by its maestro Adrian Sherwood. The resultant album is a late period Dub masterclass on how to create a fabulous work. Horace’s voice in recent years has become grittier and deeper than his earlier releases, but this change in his voices’ quality is used to stunning effect. Bottom line is if you are a Dub fan this is a must.

The more things change : film, TV & studio work, 1968-1972. / Barry, John
Mark: Ace Records compilation that focuses on the peak creative period of the composer most well known from his work on the James Bond films. Reissues most of the contents of his classic cult 70’s album ‘Ready When You Are, J.B.’, and features a mix of studio & soundtrack work from Bond films, TV shows & movies. Full of recognisable themes and motifs, that are by turns atmospheric & brooding or lovely and delicate. Compiled by Musicologist & Saint Etienne member Bob Stanley, who also provides the liner notes, so you knows it’s class all the way.

Neil: Well, what can you say about this it is a compilation other than it features some of the most famous film and television music ever, by a peerless composer whose works are still instantly recognizable globally. Some of the pieces are haunting and atmospheric, some are unforgettable with their catchiness. Just to give you a flavour, it ranges from his James Bond work, to the theme for Midnight Cowboy, from his timeless Persuaders theme, to the evocative and melancholic opening track from Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout. A great introduction or reminder of John Barry’s work.

Lost Angeles / Smith, Brix
Mark: Ex-Fall member and currently helming Brix & the Extricated, Brix Smith digs into her past to excavate a previously unreleased album recorded in 1997, with guitarist and singer songwriter Marty Willson-Piper (from Australian rock band The Church). Written at a time of severe loss in the wake of her breakup with Mark E Smith and leaving The Fall in 1989, and again in the early 90s, it was recorded in 1997, but shelved due to her inability to get record deal and her ambivalent feelings towards the raw lyrics underling the album. Fantastic shiny Pop, hiding a swath of dark edged lyrics and themes. Reminiscent of late period Lush.

Neil: The continued re-emergence and rise of the former Fall 80’s stalwart continues after the release of three highly acclaimed albums with The Extricated. ‘Lost Angeles’ was originally recorded in 1997. and never saw the light of day till now. Brix explained that she felt too raw emotionally at the time to release it. It showcases her vocals and song-writing skills, with The Church’s guitarist and singer songwriter Marty Willson-Piper doing a sterling job at providing the musical accompaniment. An album strong with melody and Indie pop hooks, delivered with some really clear and precise vocals.

Versions of modern performance. / Horsegirl
Mark: Chicago female indie-rock trio Horsegirl are the next hyped band of the moment. A Lo-fi, somewhat muddy production aesthetic, coalesces around an set of catchy songs that dabble in indie, grunge, shoegaze, jangle-pop & noise. Production is from John Agnello who produced albums from Breeders and Dinosaur Jr back in the day, so it all has a sheen of direct familiarity. The influences cited reference Sonic Youth, Flying Nun, My Bloody Valentine & Pavement, but to me they sound more like English bands from the late 80s/early 90s. It’s interesting enough that you want to listen to the album again after it finishes, but I’m not so sure it all adds up to something more than a homage to 30 years of indie rock sounds. Still pretty impressive, given that 2 of the band are college freshmen, while the other is a high school senior.

Neil: The debut indie rock outing from Chicago’s Horsegirl helped along the way in its creation by several members of Sonic Youth. The resultant album sounds in all its glory like an album steeped in the drowsy, afterglow of the 80’s and 90’s alt rock, grunge, and shoegaze scenes. The album is an object lesson in recreating the sound of bands like Dinosaur Jnr and the Breeders, and if you are a fan of bands of these genres and these times then it’s a good bet you will enjoy this.

If ye be worthy, peruse our Reading Guide to Thor: Love and Thunder!

July sees the release of Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor series, and the second directed by Aotearoa’s own Taika Waititi. The plot of Love and Thunder is based around characters and concepts from the recent Thor comics, including the villain Gorr the God Butcher, and Jane Foster becoming worthy of Mjolnir.

This ‘run’ on Thor, written by Jason Aaron and primarily drawn by Esad Ribic and Russell Dauterman, was critically beloved for its dazzling art, its bold plot twists and its cosmic scope. However, while it was all written by the same writer, during its run between 2013 to 2019 the Thor series itself was rebooted not once, not twice, but four separate times, making it difficult to know which ‘Thor Volume One’ to start from. So to help you prepare for the new film and guide you through the Thor comic’s many reinventions, we’ve put together this mighty reading guide!

First series: Thor, God of Thunder meets the God Butcher

Beginning in 2013, Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic introduces Gorr, the God Butcher (played by Christian Bale in Thor: Love and Thunder), an vengeful alien who wants to destroy every god across time and space. To stop him, Thor teams up with his younger self from his Viking days and an older, surlier All-Father Thor from the future.

Thor, God of Thunder [1] : the God Butcher / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

Thor, God of Thunder [2] : Godbomb / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

Thor, God of Thunder [3] : the accursed / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

Thor, God of Thunder [4] : the last days of Midgard / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

 

Original Sin – Thor becomes unworthy

Jason Aaron also wrote Original Sin, a crossover series where the Marvel heroes uncover secrets about their pasts while investigating the death of the Watcher. During this series, Thor learns a devastating truth that causes him to become unworthy of wielding Mjolnir, setting the stage for a new Thor to arrive.

Original sin : Thor & Loki : the tenth realm / Aaron, Jason

Original sin. Who shot the Watcher? / Aaron, Jason


Second series: Who is The Mighty Thor?

With Thor now unworthy of wielding Mjolnir, the hammer goes to Doctor Jane Foster, Thor’s ex-girlfriend, and she headlines a new series as The Mighty Thor. In her first series running for two volumes, written again by Aaron and drawn by Russell Dauterman, she fights the minotaur CEO Dario Agger and reveals her identity to the superhero community. After being teleported to Battleworld during Secret Wars, she joins the Thor Corps, a police force made entirely of Thor variants from across the multiverse.

Thor : the goddess of thunder / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

Thor [2] : who holds the hammer? / Aaron, Jason

Secret wars / Hickman, Jonathan


Third series: The Mighty and the Unworthy

The Mighty Thor reboots again after Secret Wars, again with Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor, which ran for five volumes. Meanwhile, the original Thor (now going by ‘Odinson’) gets his own limited series called The Unworthy Thor as he struggles with his identity following the loss of his hammer.

The mighty Thor [1] : thunder in her veins / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

The mighty Thor [2] : Lords of Midgard / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

The mighty Thor [3] : the Asgard/Shi’ar war / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

The unworthy Thor / Aaron, Jason 

The mighty Thor [4] : the war Thor / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

The Mighty Thor [5] : the death of the Mighty Thor / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

Final series: The War of the Realms

Jason Aaron’s final Thor series has Thor Odinson reclaim Mjolnir as his enemies from across the Nine Realms band together to invade Midgard. This results in the The War of the Realms, bringing Aaron’s near-decade long run on the God of Thunder, and now also Goddess of Thunder, to a close.

Thor [1] : God of Thunder reborn / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

Thor [2] : road to war of the realms / Aaron, Jason (also on Libby)

The war of the realms / Aaron, Jason

Thor [3] : war’s end / Aaron, Jason


But wait, there’s Thor!

Except not quite! To wrap up a few plot threads, Aaron definitively ends his Thor run with the miniseries King Thor, featuring Thor’s future self from all the way back in the first series. Meanwhile, Jane Foster gains a new weapon called Undrjarn the All-Weapon and becomes a new Valkyrie.

King Thor / Aaron, Jason

Valkyrie : Jane Foster [1] : the sacred and the profane / Ewing, Al (also on Libby)

Valkyrie : Jane Foster [2] : / Ewing, Al (also on Libby)

What’s next for Waititi?

Taika Waititi’s next comic-to-film project is an adaptation of The Incal, a French science-fiction comic by famed writer and director Alejandro Jodorowsky and legendary artist Moebius, about a down-on-his-luck detective who gets embroiled in a cosmic prophecy. You can also read it in its original six-issue run on Libby starting here. Waititi is also attached to direct the long-gestating film of the classic cyberpunk manga Akirawhich runs for six volumes.

 

New Music for Te Awe: Part 2


via GIPHY

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

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

Timbuktu. / Sangaré, Oumou
Mark: The Malian star’s 8th album focuses on social critiques & the turmoils of her home, blending the traditional, sinuous, Malian Blues sound, with western rock & folk influences more organically than her previous album. The music, as ever, revolves around her powerful voice that celebrates Mali – while also standing up for women’s rights and the downtrodden and marginalised. Female choruses soar over a wall of sound of traditional African instrumentation, creating a relentlessly hypnotic grove to carry her messages of hope and solidarity.
Neil: The ninth album from the Malian superstar regarded as musical royalty both at home and abroad. Oumou Sangaré recorded the album during lockdown in her new home in Baltimore, a more personal outing than previous works. Tender and intimate and more subtle in approach, though it still delivers its political statements throughout. Known for combining hard hitting political messages, often about women’s low standing in society, with infectious upbeat music, the music here is meticulously constructed from numerous West African folk- fingerpicking treated guitar styles, as well as kamele ngoni and Koras.

Terror twilight : farewell horizontal. / Pavement
Mark: The iconic indie band’s somewhat-maligned final album gets the long awaited deluxe treatment that the rest of the albums have received. Helmed by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (the altered tracklist of Disc 1 represents his original album sequence) the tighter production and focus on Stephen Malkmus’ songs gives it the feel of a solo album more than a collaborative band effort. The depth of bonus material is less than previous deluxe releases, mostly consisting of Malkmus’ demos, B-sides and some alternate takes. However it serves to showcase some of the underlying tensions with the band, as they struggle to get to grips with Malkmus’ more complex writing, and his evolving musical aesthetic. A fine reconsideration of this outlier in their creative catalogue.
Neil: Pavement were one of the most influential indie rock bands ever. ‘Terror twilight’ was their last album, and this is the definitive release, with outtakes and demos included. The album was recorded as the band were being pulled apart from the inside, with various members wanting totally different things from the recordings and being in the band, and the recording process itself became an expensive stop start process in several recording studios. And you can hear all that tension and unease in the finished pieces. Some are wildly experimental, whilst others are clearly aiming at a more “ mainstream indie” sound. That said, in many people’s opinion it contains some of Pavement’s best and most original work and is definitely a fabulous insight into an obviously fraught creative process. A truly enigmatic work from the band that might have been the ‘American Radiohead’ if things had played out differently.

We’ve been going about this all wrong. / Van Etten, Sharon
Mark: The 6th album from Van Etten moves further away from her acoustic/Americana sound into soaring synths and beats. The gossamer vocals are melded to an epic production, that seems big on even the acoustic tracks. Her writing deals with the detritus of failed relationships and emotional upheaval and this album, written over the Covid period, uses that skill to drill down into the specifics of our collective uncertainties during this time: raising children in isolation, keeping love & life together, moving forward, letting optimism override sadness. The sweeping grandeur reminded me of Mercury Rev at points.
Neil: : Like many of us Sharon Van Etten struggled throughout the pandemic and, like many artists, she used her art to explore and express her emotions and feelings in new music. The songs in ‘We’ve been going about this all wrong’, her sixth outing, are subsequently about the demon’s that haunted her over that period, as well as reflections on and acceptance of past mistakes. The music is like a lot of her work: noirish indie pop with slight nods to the gothic genre.

This is a photograph. / Morby, Kevin
Mark: The seventh solo from American singer-songwriter Kevin Morby (formerly of psych/folk band Woods) was inspired in part by old family photographs he was going through after his father had a serious health scare. There’s a Dylan-esque element to Morby’s work, and this album has been acclaimed as perhaps the best expression yet of his musical vision. Recorded in Memphis the album absorbs that cities mix of grit & style, and these contemplative narratives of middle America are shot through with horns and strings. An album that’s almost impossible to describe, with a grandiose, almost epic, vision to it. Its sprawling themes, and warm tales of family and memory, explore the lives of his parents, the end of childhood innocence, and the bittersweet complications and detours of lives well lived.
Neil: The seventh album from the Kansas city troubadour Kevin Morby is big. Big on sound and vision. An album that veers, as required and needed, from maximalist to minimalist American. It is a vast sprawling work dealing with the big stuff: love, life, family, and death. It is a highly nuanced piece, loud when required soft and quiet, when necessary, all aimed at serving the emotional content at any moment, and in the end a celebration of the richness of life.

Humble quest. / Morris, Maren
Mark: Third major label album from this Texas country singer. Part of the wave of younger artists whose core is a traditional singer-songwriter style, but who reflect the digital age of musical fluidity that happily incorporates glossy pop, indie rock, adult AOR, & R&B into the mix. Thoughtful mature commentaries on love, life & family surrounded by Greg Kurstin’s slick production. The pop quirky-ness of Jewel meets the slick country songwriting of early Taylor Swift.
Neil: Clear eyed country pop from Maren Morris the Nashville songstress, coloured by both her recent motherhood and grief from losing her creative foil and band-mate Michael Busbee. It is a short album, 37 mins long, but there is a cohesive clarity expressed in the deliberate simple beauty of many of the tracks.

Crooked tree / Tuttle, Molly
Mark: Tuttle’s third full length album & debut on Nonesuch, shifts from her previous roots-pop sound to more traditional bluegrass, with plenty of violin, banjo & guitar picking. The lyrics focus on the heartland life and its people, millers, farmers and moonshiners, the land & the instilled values that are always with you wherever you are. If Maren Morris’ album was about escaping small town life, this album is about leaning into its traditions and culture. Reminded me of Alison Krauss & Union Station in places. Dan Tyminski from that band actually guests on one track, as do Old Crow Medicine Show & Margo Price, so that should give you an idea of the sound.
Neil: Crooked Tree is an upbeat modern, and very stylish, take on traditional American bluegrass music, replete with duelling banjos picked by fingers at a blurred speed and country violins. The music is modern in approach, but has its roots strongly in the bluegrass genre. However, this modern approach is much more prominent in the lyrics: songs about modern America, growing grass, the gentrification of long-standing communities in cities, and especially strong women, are at its core.

Still life. / McHone, Carson
Mark: 3rd album from this Texas-born singer/songwriter moves away from her first recordings, which were apparently more straight ahead honky tonk barroom ballads. Stylistically this almost splits the difference with the previous two country-esque album reviewed above. Not traditional, but not slick country-pop also. This is more akin to the 90s singer-songwriter/Americana sound of Sheryl Crow, Gretchen Peters, Kim Richey, Gillian Welch and the like. An equal mix of outward roots-rock and inward introspection, that tackles the shifting emotions of relationships. A singer on the rise.
Neil: Whilst definitely fitting firmly into the Americana genre ‘Still Life’ deftly demonstrates what a broad church this genre can be. Carson introduces musical and lyrical experimentation in a complementary fashion to the core country sound. There’s southern soul inflected tracks’ a nod to R&B. as well as gnarly rock heavy guitars in places. Carson’s vocal delivery has a gentle beauty to it. which is the icing on top of the cake.

Motomami. / Rosalía
Mark: 3rd album from this Spanish superstar, following 2018’s flamenco-pop smash El mal querer. A fascinating listen, that mixes traditional Latin styles with contemporary pop. Traditional ballads meet rap, bachata, reggaeton, electronica, trap and more, often in the same track. A perfect mix of musical experimentation that succeeds in merging the past and the present, with an originality and singular vision that reminded me of Robyn’s self-titled breakthrough album.
Neil: ‘Motomami’ is the third album from the Spanish singer Rosalia. It is a musical self-portrait, a confessional work, which explores her feelings over the past three years. With sexuality, spirituality, heartbreak, and self-discovery all explored. The album is a genre bending collage of influences: experimental pop in the complex genre style of alternative Reggaeton – which evolved from hip hop, dancehall Caribbean and Latin American music, usually sung in Spanish in a rap singing cross-style. The resulting listen is an exhilarating roller coaster of sounds and tunes.