New Books – 23 June

Hi there, some great looking titles in the box this week.

CoverKatey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy, Futurama, Married with Children) has written an autobiography! Grace Notes tells the story of Sagal’s amazing and challenging life (not the least having a baby, told as a series of essays. Christina Applegate hails the memoir as “a beautiful poem…you will be transported…and healed.” Follow Katey Sagal on Twitter @KateySagal

CoverWildlife enthusiasts will love this biography The Durrells of Corfu. Those who loved reading Gerald Durrell’s stories of the exotic island and equally exotic pets will enjoy this. The author, Michael Haag, was family friend of Lawrence Durrell, Gerald’s father. The book includes photographs, excerpts from stories and an epilogue on Lawrence Durrell’s writing.

CoverClive Cussler’s new book Nighthawk is the 14th installment of the Numa Files (National Underwater and Marine Agency Foundation). A highly advanced spaceship disappears over the South Pacific. Kurt Austin and NUMA scramble to find it, and its unstable cargo before other nations can discover it. Great reviews. Keep track of his series with Fantastic Fiction.

CoverThe Other Hoffmann Sister by Ben Fergusson, is an Historic novel about a German family, set in Southwest Africa. When her sister Marguerite later goes missing after their return to Berlin, the mystery haunts Ingrid, but her search is interrupted by the onset of World
War I. His second novel, the story is described at atmospheric, accurate, elegant and engrossing.

CoverA Dog’s Way Home is another novel from W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose (recently on film). There are many wonderful tales of great animal journeys. In this story, Lucas has to give the dog he found as a puppy, as pitbulls are banned in Denver. Yet the bond between Bella and Lucas is so strong that Bella attempts a journey of 400 miles across Colorado wilderness.

CoverFamiliar Things is a bit of a gem. South-Korean writer Hwang Sok-Yong, is being hailed as ‘the most powerful voice in Asia’ (Kenzaburo Oe), this book as a ‘great political book’ (Critiques Libres).  Flower Island is a landfill, home to the poor who have been driven out of the city. Yet against the stark backdrop of reality, Ancient Spirits are about to reveal themselves…

New books for June

I love unpacking the new books from their boxes. These are my picks from the new book box:

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Dead Writers in Rehab is the second novel by British author Paul Basset Davies; also a writer for stage, radio, television and film. Protagonist Foster James wakes up in what he thinks is rehab. After a therapy session with several writers who are dead (Hunter S. Thompson, for example), he’s not so sure…

Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman, is the story of Maggie, a maid in New York, who is left a house by one of her clients. She also inherits Edith, her former employer’s eighty-two year old mother. Erin Duffy recommends this as a book “you’ll want to devour in one sitting.”

John Grisham’s new offering Camino Island features the daring theft of five manuscripts belonging to F.Scott Fitzgerald’s novels. If you were a struggling writer, could you resist the offer to work with a historic manuscript, even if its origins are murky?

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Spaceman of Bohemia is the first novel by Jaroslav Kalfar. Highly recommended by Darin Strauss and Lisa McInerney, this is the story of Bohemian astronaut Jakub Prochazka’s ascent and personal journey through Space. With only an Arachnoid for company Jakub comes to terms with his relationships while he tries to find a way back home to his loved ones.

Tengoku, by Rae D. Magdon, is the story of a Japanese girl, Aozora Kaede, who runs away from her noble family, with only her wolf, Rin, for company. She is hired as a Yojimbo (bodyguard) for a young female Samurai, Homura Imari. The two share an adventure to replace Imari’s missing hand, confront Aozura’s past, and save the Empire of Akatsuki Teikoku from evil.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a prequel to Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s set a century-ish before Game of Thrones, when the Targaryens are still in power… Featuring Ser Duncan the Tall, and his young Squire, Egg – who is really Aegon Targaryen. With illustrations!

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The Walworth Beauty is a new release from Man Booker Prize shortlisted Michele Roberts. The Independent newspaper is hailing her as “one of Britain’s best novelists.” The Times goes further to describe her as descended from Monet, Debussy and Woolf. The novel follows two characters linked by the search for human connection, but separated by time.

I love the title of this one. (The Last Person to Call Me) Sweet Pea (Ended Up Dead) is a first adult novel by C.J Skuse, known for her writing for children and young adults. Rhiannon appears to be normal, living a normal life. She lives with her boyfriend and her dog, normal. She hates her job, normal. She is making a kill list, normal. Wait what?! The driver who cuts her off every morning. The guy who bruises her apples at the supermarket. Is this underestimated girl going to get away with murder?

For Later: January 2017

For Later shelf is now more of a For Later library but somehow the Just Ordered list comes out and every week the shelves just grow.

These titles sneaked on recently:

Cover of Thug KitchenThug Kitchen (subtitle could cause offence). Gwyneth Paltrow loved it. Not sure if that’s a recommendation but I’m all for a bit of cursing with my cooking.

The Long Drop by Denise Mina. If Mina’s other books are anything to go by this stand-alone based on a real case in 1950s Glasgow should be good. Mina won the best-dressed and best hair competition held in my head at the Wellington Writers and Readers Week way back in 2012. I’ve followed her ever since and she’s never let me down.

England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage. Will one of the ultimate books on Punk be as good as it was in 1991? Or will it just be really sad? It’s fully updated and expanded so probably sad.

And there’s always room for a few “Friday night flickers”, good for a mindless page-through on a Friday night:

Cover of Fashion, art and rock and rollFashion, Art and Rock ‘n’ Roll by Jean-Charles De Castelbajac. Worth it for his name alone.

Domino Your Guide to a Stylish Home: Discovering your personal style and creating a space you love by Jessica Romm Perez. Sigh.

City House, Country House Contemporary New Zealand Homes by John Walsh.

Gardening in the best possible taste

Cover of Grow for flavourNothing makes my day like a “hold available” notification from CCL for a crisp new garden book, and this week I got my hands on a real gem. Grow for Flavour by James Wong (of Grow Your Own Drugs fame – not nearly as dodgy as it sounds) is a fresh ray of light in a forest of glossy gardening books that look pretty, but can sometimes be a bit guilty of repeating much the same information.

Don’t get me wrong, Grow for Flavour is very a attractive volume indeed (who can resist an author who photographs his Star Wars figurines in his garden shots?), but it’s not just a pretty publication. It’s full of interesting facts and innovative ideas for getting the best flavours out of your home produce.

Wong argues that much of our gardening ‘wisdom’ is based on (British) Victorian gardening practice – essentially the time when yield was beginning to be prized over flavour, a sad trend that’s come to its lacklustre fruition in our supermarkets today. This book is a strike back in defense of taste. It’s full of simple ways to boost flavour in all sort of fruit and vege crops – and the thing I love best is that all of its tips are firmly rooted in science. (You see what I did there?)

Yep, Wong is a scientist as well as a herbalist and a gardener, which means that his observations, remedies and treatments all have solid scientific research behind them – a nice change in this subject area, where solutions are so often presented without a lick of evidence stronger than “Well my great Aunt Hilda swears by it!”

It’s one of those books I think my partner secretly hates. Inevitably, when I get hold of a volume like this, his quiet evening will be peppered with interruptions along the lines of “Hey, did you know I hate coriander because I have the OR6A2 gene that makes it taste like soap and bleach?” or “Can I turn the laundry bin into a fungus farm?” It’s not uncommon for these exclamations to turn completely nonsensical, like “Aspirin and molasses on tomatoes? Genius!” (Well, it made sense to me…)

We’re well into planting season now, so grab a copy today. You too can be making inscrutable garden related exclamations in no time…

Cool stuff from the selectors – from Patti Smith to Star Wars

Cover of M TrainOur Music Selector has been seeing lots of great music biographies lately, she said that this will be one of her highlights: M Train by Patti Smith

Reviews have been ecstatic, I particularly like this one by Nick Hornby

The most beautiful, incredible autobiography – it will make you ache for a time and a place that you probably never knew, New York in the 1970s.

Cover of The Ultimate guide to Vintage Star WarsGetting ready for the new Star Wars Movie? There have been a few adults and children’s books ordered including The Ultimate Guide to Vintage Star Wars Action Figures 1977-1985. Unparalleled coverage of Star Wars action figures. Organized by film or television show, and by release date, the book is divided into two parts: action figures and accessories.

Cover of CosmosCosmos: The Infographic book of space
Using Infographics – the latest and increasingly popular method of explaining tricky subjects, the authors have laid bare modern science and the cosmos. Will appeal to stargazers and space enthusiasts of all ages.

…. And something for the children

Cover of A great big cuddleA Great Big Cuddle : Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen
Sometimes children’s poetry can be ignored in favour of a picture book but you will not be disappointed with the latest offering from the two biggest names in children’s publishing, Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell.  Rosen’s poems fizz off the page with sound and rhythm, energy and laughter, as he captures in the most remarkable way what it means to be very, very young. Chris Riddell has produced some his most extraordinary pictures ever to bring this world to life. It’s a book that will be enjoyed by the oldest grown-up and the youngest child and a future classic.

Cover of Over the hills and far awayOver the hills and far away : a treasury of nursery rhymes by Elizabeth Hammill
A collection of 150 rhymes from across the globe, beautifully illustrated by 77 world-renowned artists.

 

Shells, books and Lego: cool stuff from the Selectors

No matter where you are the world, you will never be far from a mollusc.

cover of Spirals in TimeHelen Scales hasn’t met a mollusc she didn’t like. Her book Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells is a passionate ode to shellfish, part travelogue, part natural science with plenty of story telling to make the humble mollusc a thing of wonder.

Inspiration of bookIntent on pushing the boundaries of book publishing, Inspiration of Book showcases 150 of the most imaginative and innovative books ever made, including a corset book, pop up books, books made of seeds, books within books, books made from shells, fabric… the list goes on. Don’t be put off by the cover; it’s rather dull considering the joys that await inside! Our selector had this to say:

I wanted to personally own every book they showed.

Beautiful LegoBeautiful Lego 2: Dark is just that – beautiful! This book showcases an array of pieces ranging from lifelike replicas of everyday objects and famous monuments to imaginative renderings of spaceships, mansions, and mythical creatures. A great companion for those of you who managed to attend the Kidsfest event Brickshow.

Cool Stuff from the Selectors: New Fiction

Inside the O'BriensUpcoming fiction has a lot of interesting material, but if you don’t want to read:

  • novels about domestic disharmony,
  • nice tales which you know are going to be nice as they have flowers on the cover,
  • blokey novels about saving the world in the way Tom Clancy and his many imitators do,
  • endless dark crime
  • and endless light crime (murder in flower shops, etc)

…then you might like to try these when they come into our libraries.

A  new novel by Lisa Genova who did the bestseller Still Alice – her forthcoming Inside the O’Brien’s has a family confronted by Huntington’s Disease.

Quicksand, by Steve Toltz, author of the terrific  A fraction of the whole. His second novel, Quicksand, is about a man to whom all the wrong things happen until he turns his bad luck into something of an art form.

*If you like writers who love bad taste, there is a A Decent Ridenew one from Irvine Welsh A decent ride and the publisher says it is his “funniest, filthiest” book yet as it takes on some dark taboos. His equivalent from over the Atlantic – Chuck Palahniuk – has a book of short stories called Make Something Up which is just waiting to offend.

And I need to put in a word for the Penguin series of Georges Simenon’s work: the intention is to go through all of Simenon’s work, from his Maigret stories to his psychological thrillers. As well, Patricia Highsmith, the author who made dark psychological mystery novels (most of them filmed, from Strangers on a train to the recent Two faces of January) is being republished in the months ahead.

Cool new stuff from the Selectors

Cover of Girls standing on lawnsGirls Standing on Lawns

Our selector noticed that this interesting and rather odd little book kept getting good reviews so she decided it was worth purchasing. Once she read it cover to cover (which only took less than 5 minutes) she agreed that this was quite a delightful wee book after all.

It is exactly what the title says, photos and paintings of girls standing on lawns with the author pondering and reflecting on the moment caught…

Marae: Te Tatau Pounamu: A Journey around New Zealands Meeting Houses

Bishop Muru Walters is a very well known Anglican minister. He is also a master carver, poet, broadcaster and former Māori All Black. His son Robin is a photographer and filmmaker who is director at Curious Films. Sam Walters, Robin’s wife, is a photographer.

Cover of MaraeTogether the Walters spent three years visiting some of this country’s major meeting houses as well as many of the more humble ones – houses that serve smaller hapū and iwi – to bring together a beautiful photographic book on the meeting house. They are intensively photographed, with detailed shots of their carvings, kōwhaiwhai panels, tukutuku panels and much more. Many are photographed during an event, the images conveying a rich sense of life and activity.

From north to south, from the east coast to the west, and from ancient wharenui to bold new designs, this handsome book, with its engaging personal text, captures the huge variety of New Zealand’s original architecture. It’s a book for all New Zealanders to treasure.

When Books Went to War

Learning that the US government, along with librarians and publishers, decided to dispatch millions of books to American GIs, sailors, and fliers in the Second World War is sure to warm any book reader’s heart.  For many soldiers this was the first time they had come in contact with literature; some were so moved they wrote to the authors!  These books helped ease boredom, alleviated stress and gave a sense of purpose. By the number of starred reviews it has received, this book of books should be a good read.

Cover of The Wellness SyndromeThe Wellness Syndrome

Feeling like you don’t exercise enough, or eat the right foods? You are not alone! The Wellness Syndrome follows people who go to extremes to find the perfect diet, corporate athletes who start the day with a dance party, and the self-trackers who monitor everything, including their own toilet habits.

This is a world where feeling good has become indistinguishable from being good. Visions of social change have been reduced to dreams of individual transformation, political debate has been replaced by insipid moralising, and scientific evidence has been traded for new-age delusions. A lively and humorous diagnosis of the cult of wellness, this book is an indispensable guide for everyone suspicious of our relentless quest to be happier and healthier.

Glam stuff from the selectors

For those of you who love to pore over glamorous pictures and design, we have some beautiful books for you this month.

Art Nouveau FashionArt Nouveau Fashion

A wonderful book to browse through. Enjoy the stunning and glamorous designs of Worth, Paquin, Poiret, Fortuny and many more. You will learn how the style overlaps with late Arts and Crafts movement in the 1890s and early Modernism in the 1910s, and then wallow in the beautiful pictures of Art Nouveau jewellery and accessories, and new colour photographs of gar­ments from the V&A’s collection.

Hollywood Frame by Frame

Cover of Hollywood Frame by FrameHundreds of never-before-published photos from the sets of some of the greatest films of the twentieth century. Hollywood’s biggest stars are caught with their guard down behind the scenes of movie classics from Some Like It Hot and Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Taxi Driver and The Silence of the Lambs. A treasure trove for any fan of Hollywood s Golden Age, this rare glimpse of the unseen silver screen will intrigue even movie buffs who think they’ve seen everything.

If you have a scientific bent, but still enjoy a good photograph then Molecules could fill all your needs!

MoleculesGray goes beyond the 118 elements in the periodic table to explore, through fascinating stories and stunning photographic imagery, what he considers to be the most essential and interesting of the millions of possible chemical bonds. At the beginning of Molecules, Gray explains what molecules and compounds are, what holds them together and how they form bonds, the difference between ionic and covalent bonds, how molecules get their names and what their scientific names mean and the difference between organic and inorganic compounds.

Ladybird : a cover story : 500 Iconic coversLadybird

The size of an original ladybird book (a mite thicker though) and scanned directly from Ladybird’s own archives – tattered jackets, battered edges and all – made our selector feel very nostalgic.

It contains 500 iconic covers from the Ladybird archives, ranging from the most-loved covers of the 1940s, 50s and 60s to some of the more unusual and striking Ladybird covers from the 1970s and 80s. This book showcases personal favourites from Ladybird staff both past and present, and those of Ladybird fans from around the world.

One from left field and a nominee for best title of the year….

Cover of Behold the beautiful dung beetleBehold the beautiful dung beetle 

Surprisingly lovely to look at with impressive watercolours,  you will learn everything you ever wanted (or didn’t want) to know about the dung beetle. For example did you know that there are over 5000 species of dung beetle and they can make a cow pat disappear in 24 hours?

Getting all those ducks in a row

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anally retentive, neat freak – the terms are out there.

Book Cover: The art of clean up

I’ve always been a little obsessive about order. When in stores, often red and large, my husband comes up to me and whispers “You’re doing it again”, and I realise I’m organising the bins of DVDs, making sure they are all up the right way, putting the ones that go together, well, together. If I am eating out and they bring cutlery, I will make sure they are straight and perfectly lined up, along with the salt and pepper and I’ll put things in order of colour, length, size – aahhh that’s better!

I actually feel agitated when I see disorder but can’t do anything about it.

At the library, I like to tidy, I like lining things up, straightening, and I get a real sense of calm when I have tidied and made things ‘right’. My brain relaxes. Libraries are perfect places to work if you have the ordered (compulsive) gene and I’m not the only one drawn to the order of a library shelf. So when a book arrived as a reserve for me, I did wonder about it, not sure I’d put it on hold, but it really appealed to me. I then found out a fellow librarian had put the book on hold for me, knowing I would love it. And I do.

Book cover: Unstuff your life

The Art of the Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli is a gem of a book. Well, it spoke to me. A book that on one page has an innocent bowl of alphabet soup photographed, then on the facing page has the soup sorted, so that the letters are lined up a-z and the carrot chunks are in a nice line underneath, perfectly spaced, you understand. On another page, the left page has a car park full of cars, on the facing page, the cars have all been parked in colour matching chunks. The photographs are lush and ordered and are  funny and quirky or weird and disturbing, depending on the way your mind works – I did a little survey among my workmates to see their reactions.

There are heaps of books out there to help you organise your life if you feel it is out of control. There are people who will come into your house and sort it all out for you, I have wondered if this is my dream job.

But I do wonder if it is healthy to fight your natural inclinations. I don’t fight my need for order, don’t get embarrassed by it or feel I have to curb it  and I think if you are a naturally messy person, just go with it. I guess as long as the health department doesn’t need to be informed, and it makes you happy, all is well.

Are you a lover of order or chaos? What makes your brain go aahhh?