It’s the beginning of a new year and we have selected some fabulous new fiction from our recently received material for your enjoyment. In the ‘Other Genres’ category this month we are highlighting thrillers, which are guaranteed tensely suspenseful reading.
This month we received new novels from so many brilliant writers it was difficult to select only ten for our Recent Picks selection. We do hope you will explore the complete list and that the three chosen for this newsletter will definitely be a temptation to do so.
|The hearts of men / Nickolas Butler.
“Camp Chippewa, 1962. Thirteen-year-old Nelson, loner and over-achiever, is nicknamed the Bugler as he proudly sounds the reveille each morning. This is the summer that everything changes, marking the beginning of Nelson’s uncertain friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan, and the discovery of his father’s betrayal, which tears his family apart. As time moves on, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and transforms his father’s business. When something unthinkable happens during a visit from Jonathan’s grandson and daughter-in-law, the aftermath tests the depths and the limits of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Future home of the living god : a novel / Louise Erdrich.
“Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. For twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant. As society begins to disintegrate, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation. There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women, of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The threat level remains severe / Rowena Macdonald.
“House of Commons secretary Grace has been counting the tea breaks in the same dull job for a decade. Brett, the new boy is on a mission to shake up the dusty backrooms of power and set to collide with Grace. Office life begins to look up when Grace receives some mysterious emails.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
As always the graphic novel collection provides readers with a multitude of choice with the variation of narrative, both visual and textual. For this month’s newsletter we have chosen examples of this diversification.
|Josephine Baker / written by José-Louis Bocquet ; art by Catel Muller ; historical consultant, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker.
“Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally. A victim of racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|On the Camino / Jason.
“Northwestern Spain, observed with the eye of an artist, chronicling both the good (people, conversations) and the bad (blisters, bedbugs) he encountered on his journey. Full of quiet incidents, odd encounters, small triumphs, and the occasional setback, On the Camino is the first implicitly autobiographical long-form work by a master cartoonist.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Rise of the dungeon master : Gary Gygax and the creation of D&D / David Kushner and Koren Shadmi.
“Rise of the Dungeon Master tells, in graphic form, the story of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and; Dragons, one of the most influential games ever made. Like the game itself, the narrative casts the reader into the adventure from a first person point of view, taking on the roles of the different characters in the story. Gygax was the son of immigrants who grew up in Lake Geneva, WI, in the 1950s. An imaginative misfit, he escaped into a virtual world based on science fiction novels, military history and strategic games like chess. In the mid-1970s, he co-created the wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons game, determining the rules and inventing the signature 20-sided dice. Starting out in the basement of his home, he was soon struggling to keep up with the demand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
In the selection of new mystery fiction this month there were several translated novels, giving an international flavour to this genre. Readers will enjoy the different cultures and societies represented in each mystery. A great way to enjoy armchair travel, providing the suspense and tension is not too disturbing.
|The girl in the fog / Donato Carrisi ; translated by Howard Curtis.
“A man is arrested in the small town of Avechot. His shirt is covered in blood. Could this have anything to do with a missing girl called Anna Lou? What really happened to the girl? Detective Vogel will do anything to solve the mystery surrounding Anna Lou’s disappearance. When a media storm hits the quiet town, Vogel is sure that the suspect will be flushed out. Yet the clues are confusing, perhaps false, and following them may be a far cry from discovering the truth at the heart of a dark town.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Madness treads lightly / Polina Dashkova ; translated by Marian Schwartz.
“As a working mother, Lena Polyanskaya has her hands full. She’s busy caring for her two-year-old daughter, editing a successful magazine, and supporting her husband, a high-ranking colonel in counterintelligence. She doesn’t have time to play amateur detective. But when a close friend’s suspicious death is labeled a suicide, she’s determined to prove he wouldn’t have taken his own life. As Lena digs in to her investigation, all clues point to murder and its connection to a string of grisly cold-case homicides that stretches back to the Soviet era. When another person in her circle becomes a victim, Lena fears she and her family may be next. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect them. But will learning the truth unmask a killer or put her and her family in even more danger?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The Anthill murders / Hans Olav Lahlum ; translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson.
“1972. Across Oslo, a serial killer is hunting down young women. Each body found strangled and with a peculiar calling-card placed upon her body: a cut-out picture of an ant. The first victim is a timid theology student, the next a jazz singer, followed by the heir to one of the largest fortunes in Oslo. But despite Inspector K2’s best efforts to find a link, the only thing connecting them seems to be their murder. With assistant Patricia’s intellect put to the test and increasing pressure from his boss as the clock ticks down to the next possible killing, K2 is in danger of losing his position as Oslo’s leading homicide detective.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The selection from our new science fiction and fantasy novels included several that were dystopian themed, and several novels that had immediate problems facing the world woven into the plots, such as global warming, animal rights and pandemics.
|The city of brass / S. A. Chakraborty.
“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by, palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing, are all tricks. But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale about Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. When Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Beacon 23 / Hugh Howey.
“For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job and a thankless one for the most part, until something goes wrong, until a ship is in distress. In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail. At least, they aren’t supposed to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Dogs of war / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
“My name is Rex. I am a good dog. Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies. But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
This is another month featuring New Zealand writers in our ‘Other Genre’ category. Hopefully this is an indication that New Zealand writing and publishing is flourishing. Almost all genres are represented, from historical fiction to mysteries and short stories, and with a New Zealand flavour.
|Soldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Salt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Baby / Annaleese Jochems
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there is an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)