Who’s reading what? Our most popular Fiction

The avid readers of Wellington have been spending these long winter nights, chilly commutes, and chance sunny spells devouring the latest offerings of the fiction world.  What have been the most favourite titles this past season? Interest in Pip Adam’s new award winning title means The New Animals is in a favoured position amongst readers. Adam has received high praise for writing technique and her faceted nuanced characters that live beyond accepted palatable current Auckland stereotypes.

There is a decent helping of gritty mystery writing from the likes of Jo Nesbø and Donna Leon. Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth is one in the Hogarth Shakespeare series preceded by Edward St. Aubyn’s treatment of King Lear in Dunbar. North American President turned author Bill Clinton writing with James Patterson has also captured the capital’s attention, as have writing luminaries Ali Smith and Michael Ondaatje.  Below are the top 10 titles by issues in August.

1. Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo
“When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess. He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.But a man like him won’t get to the top. Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his. Unless he kills for it.” (Catalogue)

2. The woman in the window / Finn, A. J
“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?” (Catalogue)

3. The temptation of forgiveness / Leon, Donna
“As the twenty-seventh novel unfolds in Donna Leon’s exquisite chronicle of Venetian life in all its blissful and sordid aspects, Brunetti pursues several false and contradictory leads while growing ever more impressed by the intuition of his fellow Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, and by the endless resourcefulness and craftiness of Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary and gate-keeper. Exasperated by the petty bureaucracy that constantly bedevils him and threatens to expose Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics.” (Catalogue

4. The new animals / Adam, Pip
Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember — for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millenials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (Catalogue)

5. The punishment she deserves / George, Elizabeth
“No. 1 New York Times best-selling George returns with the next mystery featuring DI Thomas Lynley and his partner DS Barbara Havers, who’s in the lead here. Approached by a Member of Parliament with a request to investigate the supposed suicide of a constituent’s son, New Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner sees an opportunity to stick Havers with an impossible case and thence get rid of her. (He’s not a fan.) George’s last title was in 2015, so folks will be clamoring. Award-winning author Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series.” (Catalogue)

6. Dear Mrs. Bird : a novel / Pearce, A. J.
“London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.” (Catalogue)

7. The President is missing / Clinton, Bill
“The President is Missing. The world is in shock. But the reason he”s missing is much worse than anyone can imagine. With details only a President could know, and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver.” (Catalogue)

8. An unsuitable match / Trollope, Joanna
“Rose Woodrowe is getting married to Tyler Masson – a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her. The only problem? This isn’t the first time for either of them, and their five grown-up children have strong opinions on the matter… Who to listen to? Who to please? Rose and Tyler are determined to get it right this time, but in trying to make everyone happy, can they ever be happy themselves?” (Catalogue

9. Winter / Smith, Ali
“Following Autumn, the first of four novels named for the seasons and drawing on their moods, Smith takes an icy look at the era of Brexit and fake news, examining themes of history and memory and celebrating our will to survive. Winter. It makes things visible. Ali Smith’s shapeshifting Winter casts a warm, wise, merry and uncompromising eye over a post-truth era in a story rooted in history and memory and with a taproot deep in the evergreens, art and love.” (Catalogue)

10. Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined to protect, and educate… But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)

Fiction showcase: The origins of the Ripping Yarn novel

Ripping Yarns map graphic

Our featured fiction showcase of books for September is called Ripping Yarns in which we have selected novels that share the common thread of being rip-roaring, adrenaline pumping tales of action and adventure, and are usually tales of daring and heroism. Today we have interpreted the term to cover a wide selection of authors, genres and writing styles.

The genre originated in the Victorian times with authors like Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle and was subsequently continued by writers like H. G. Wells, Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Buchan. Now the term is so wide it covers everything from science fiction to crime and general fiction and a whole host of sub-genres. The only linking factor is the author’s commitment to tell a rattling good adventure story. So with all that in mind, we thought we would feature a selection of the classic authors in this selection. These selections can also be found on Overdrive and in the physical library collections in the fiction section.

Syndetics book coverThe mysterious island / Jules Verne ; with an introduction by R.G.A. Dolby.
Jules Verne (1828-1905) is internationally famous as the author of a distinctive series of adventure stories describing new travel technologies which opened up the world and provided means to escape from it. The collective enthusiasm of generations of readers of his ‘extraordinary voyages’ was a key factor in the rise of modern science fiction.
“In The Mysterious Island a group of men escape imprisonment during the American Civil War by stealing a balloon. Blown across the world, they are air-wrecked on a remote desert island. In a manner reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, the men apply their scientific knowledge and technical skill to exploit the island’s bountiful resources, eventually constructing a sophisticated society in miniature. The book is also an intriguing mystery story, for the island has a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bottle imp : in English and Samoan / Robert Louis Stevenson ; introduced by Roger G. Swearingen ; edited by Robert Hoskins.
“Robert Louis Stevenson considered his supernatural short story ‘The Bottle Imp’ one of his best. A Faustian folktale transplanted to the Pacific, ‘The Bottle Imp’ was the only one of Stevenson’s works to be translated into a Polynesian language in his lifetime, as the Samoan O le Fagu Aitu. Featuring an extensive introduction by Stevenson scholar Roger G Swearingen, and accompanied by the original illustrations, this edition is the first to publish the English and Samoan versions together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe return of Sherlock Holmes ; & His last bow / Arthur Conan Doyle ; with an afterword by David Stuart Davies.
“Three years after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock Holmes returns to 221B Baker Street, to the astonishment of Dr Watson and the delight of readers worldwide. From kidnapped heirs to murder by harpoon, Holmes and Watson have their work cut out for them in these brilliant later tales. This collection also includes His Last Bow, a series of recollections from an older Sherlock Holmes of further adventures from his life. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thirty-nine steps / John Buchan ; with and introduction and notes by Sir John Keegan.
“Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTarzan of the apes / Edgar Rice Burroughs ; edited with an introduction and notes by Jason Haslam.
“Tarzan first came swinging through the jungle in the pages of a pulp-fiction magazine in 1912, and subsequently in the novel that went on to spawn numerous film and other adaptations. In its pages we find Tarzan’s origins: how he is orphaned after his parents are marooned and killed on the coast of West Africa, and is adopted by an ape-mother. He grows up to become a model of physical strength and natural prowess, and eventually leader of his tribe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe time machine / H.G. Wells.
“Late in the nineteenth century, a Victorian scientist shows his disbelieving dinner guests a device he claims is a Time Machine. Respectable London scarcely has the imagination to cope with him. A week later they reconvene to find him ragged, exhausted and garrolous. The tale he tells is of the year 802,701 – of life as it is lived in exactly the same spot in what once had been London. He has visited the future of the human race and encountered beings that are elfin, beautiful, vegetarian, and leading a life of splendid idleness. But this is not the only lifeform that exists in Eden – in the tunnels beneath paradise lurks man’s darker side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ripping Yarns promo iamge

Liked Avengers: Infinity War or Marvel’s The Defenders? Try these comics!

Continuing on with our graphic novel recommendations series, we’re looking at comics and graphic novels you might like if you enjoyed the recent Avengers: Infinity War movie, or if you are a fan of Marvel’s The Defenders series. First up are four tomes you might enjoy if you liked Avengers: Infinity War.

Syndetics book coverProphet. 5, Earth war / story, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy ; art, Brandon Graham [and five others] ; colors, Joseph Bergin III [and four others] ; letters, Ed Brisson, Ariana Maher.
“THE EPIC CONCLUSION TO PROPHET! A clone general goes against his Brain-Mother overlords to gain control of an alien egg. This compendium collects Prophet: Earth War volumes 1-6.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThanos [1] : Thanos returns / Jeff Lemire, writer ; Mike Deodato, Jr., artist.
“Thanos, possibly the most diabolical individual in the Marvel Universe, is back – and he’s out for vengeance on all who would oppose him! Unfortunately for the Mad Titan, he’s also heading for an unexpected reckoning…with his family. Take an ongoing walk on the dark side of the galaxy, and follow the deadly trail of destruction left in the wake of…Thanos!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtermination. Volume 1, The last and dreadful hour / written by Simon Spurrier ; art by Jeffrey Edwards and V. Ken Marion.
“WE LOST. THEY WON. In the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion, the world’s greatest super-heroes and deadliest super-villains must form an alliance to prevent their own extermination. Two arch-enemies, Nox, a driven hero, and Red Reaper, a ruthless villain, form a volatile partnership for the greater good. The enemy of your enemy is your friend — but will they be able to ultimately put aside their bitter past to prevent global genocide?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtermination. Volume 2, To vaster darkness / [written by Simon Spurrier ; art by V. Ken Marion].
“The pulse-pounding conclusion to the odd couple superhero alien invasion!
Nox, a driven hero, and Red Reaper, a ruthless villain, form a volatile partnership in the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion. The two arch-enemies have survived the attacks of the deadly EDDA, traversed the post-apocalyptic landscape of the U.S., and formed a rag-tag alliance of former heroes and villains. Now…they plan to strike back. Heroes will die… it’s just a matter of how many…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

And here are two works you might enjoy if you like Marvel’s The Defenders.

Syndetics book coverMoon Knight : from the dead / writer, Warren Ellis ; artist, Declan Shalvey.
“Marc Spector is Moon Knight! Or is he? It’s hard to tell these days, especially when New York’s wildest vigilante protects the street with two-fisted justice and that’s right, count ’em three different personalities! But even with the force of the Egyptian moon god fueling his crusade, how does the greatest detective save a city that’s as twisted as he? Be here as Moon Knight punches ghosts, investigates a sleep experiment that’s driving its patients insane, and takes on twenty mob enforcers to save an abductee.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTop 10 / Alan Moore, writer ; Gene Ha, Zander Cannon, artists.
“The massive, multilayered city of Neopolis, built shortly after World War II, was designed as a home for the expanding population of science-heroes, heroines and villains that had ballooned into existance in the previous decade. Bringing these powered beings together solved some problems but created others – turning Neopolis into a pressure cooker that normal policing methods could never contain.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

Sometimes reading gives you those “I can’t believe they did that!” moments, when an author turns around a plot or a character arc, or kills off the last person you expected!  Sometimes you get an “I see what they did there” when writing unexpectedly speaks directly to your own life experience. Sometimes you want to tell someone about it…

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The surrogate / Jensen, Louise
“Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream. But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets. And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye. As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was a really good psychological thriller with a good twist at the end.  Overall would recommend it to other fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Couple Next Door, etc.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5 stars)

Stick together / Hénaff, Sophie
“After their successful solving of three cold cases and exposing corruption at the very highest level of the Paris police force, Anne Capestan’s squad of misfits and no-hopers should be in a celebratory mood. However, now despised by their colleagues at 36 quai des Orfevres and worried for their future, morale has never been lower among the members of the Awkward Squad. Capestan does her best to motivate her troops, but even she cannot maintain a cheerful facade when she has to investigate the murder of Commissaire Serge Rufus, the father of her ex-husband.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was entertaining and well written with characters that were unusual enough to be memorable.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

A dangerous crossing / Khan, Ausma Zehanat
” For Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty, the Syrian refugee crisis is about to become personal. Esa’s childhood friend, Nathan Clare, calls him in distress: his sister, Audrey, has vanished from a Greek island where the siblings run an NGO. Audrey had been working to fast-track refugees to Canada, but now, she is implicated in the double-murder of a French Interpol agent and a young man who had fled the devastation in Syria.” (Catalogue)

“The murders are incidental to the main (or more important) story – that of life as a refugee in a Greek refugee camp.  It is written from an outsider’s perspective, but I almost felt I was in the camp at times…” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The girl in the moon / Goodkind, Terry
Angela juggles multiple jobs to live a secluded life in a cabin in the mountains. But she also lives a secret life, right under everyone’s noses. Because her family’s bloodline carries the ability to recognize killers, she adopts a solitary, violent existence in service of her own, personal mission in life. When Angela unexpectedly finds herself the prey of a group of international terrorists, she is the only one who knows the truth of what they are about to do. She might look like an unlikely hero. She might also be our only hope.” (Catalogue)

“Fantastic. I will definitely read other books written by this author. I hope this author writes further in the series with the lead female, Angels Constantine.” (no star rating given)

I am watching you / Driscoll, Teresa
“A missing girl. A tormented witness. A web of lies. And someone is watching… When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it – until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls – beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard – has disappeared. A year later, Anna is still missing. Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night – and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. Someone knows where Anna is – and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ells.”  (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was an excellent read. A great story that kept me glued.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 star rating)

Ripping yarns in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Science Fiction has a lineage in rollicking yarns, starting with Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. Standing on their shoulders, through a couple of tiers of acrobatically stacked authors, are some talented writers with their own additions to this style of writing.

The world of the imagination has created a forthright champion who has a certain savoir faire — a certainty in their abilities that draws a particular flavour to the adventures we share with them. A ripping yarn has a pace set to it, and adversities that seem both insurmountable and a test of the character’s personal mettle. Our heroes forge through sagas filled with action, foes, allies, and a twist in the tale is almost inevitable. Happy reading!

The long way to a small, angry planet / Chambers, Becky
“Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there. But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she’s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war. Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.” (Catalogue)

Aurorarama / Valtat, Jean-Christophe
“A startling, seductive literary novel that entwines suspense, science fiction, adventure, romance and history into an intoxicating new genre. What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer.” (Catalogue)

Railsea / Miéville, China
“On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt. The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life.  When they come across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds in the derelict leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. Soon he’s hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers.” (Catalogue)

Constance Verity saves the world / Martinez, A. Lee
“In her Last Adventure, Connie successfully became an ordinary person. People warned her it would be boring, and they were right. That’s exactly why Connie loves it. But there’s an Adventurer-shaped hole in the cosmos now, and a lot of interested parties eager to fill it. Not all of those candidates are fit for the role, and if The Adventurer falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to chaos and destruction. Constance still has all the skills of her old life, but she’s no longer the chosen one. Yet when the fate of the world is at stake, she sets off, reluctantly, to keep the forces of evil from stealing the destiny she abandoned” (Catalogue)

Angelmaker / Harkaway, Nick
“Joe Spork repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. All Joe wants is a quiet life, but when he fixes one particularly unusual device his life is suddenly upended. The client? Unknown. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine.” (Catalogue)
Nick Harkaway’s second published title Angelmaker sets a great pace with interesting characters and good banter. For a more brain stretching exercise his latest book Gnomon layers it’s way through a surveillance ridden future with a puzzle of cause and effect.

The explorers guild : a passage to Shambhala / Baird, Jonathan
“Set against the backdrop of World War I, with Western Civilization on the edge of calamity, the first installment in The Explorers Guild series, A Passage to Shambhala, concerns the Guild’s quest to find the golden city of Buddhist myth. The search will take them from the Polar North to the Mongolian deserts, through the underground canals of Asia to deep inside the Himalayas, before the fabled city finally divulges its secrets and the globe-spanning journey plays out to its startling conclusion.” (Catalogue)

How films can lead you to comics: Annihilation

Image from amazon.co.uk

Next in our series about films that can lead you to comics is Alex Garland’s Annihilation, adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Jeff VanderMeer, which tells the story of a team of scientists who venture into “The Shimmer”, a strange zone in the American southwest where the laws of physics and biology are altered. Several comics share visual and thematic similarities with the film, which is acclaimed for it’s mesmerising visuals, alien environments full of eerie creatures, and an exploration of the divide between man and nature.


Saga of the Swamp Thing. Book one / Moore, Alan
“With modern-day issues explored against a backdrop of horror, SWAMP THING’s stories became commentaries on environmental, political and social issues, unflinching in their relevance. Moore takes over as writer with the story “The Anatomy Lesson,” a haunting origin story that reshapes SWAMP THING mythology with terrifying revelations that begin a journey of discovery and adventure that will take him across the stars and beyond.” (Catalogue)

Animal Man. Volume 1, The hunt / Lemire, Jeff
“Animal Man Buddy Baker has gone from “super” man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? As these new abilities continue to terrify Buddy and his wife Ellen, things take a turn for the worse as Buddy begins a startling transformation of his own that will lead him on a journey into the heart of The Red.” (Catalogue)

Izuna / Tenuta, Saverio
“Since the dawn of time, the Izuna wolves have been entrusted as guardians against Japan’s evil spirits. From time immemorial, the spirits of nature created the Kamigakushi, a magical veil that hid them from the impure eyes of man. But the mysterious birth of a wolf cub in the shape of a young girl threatens to upset the delicate balance between the two worlds and plunge both sides into chaos.” (Catalogue)

Sweet Tooth [1] : out of the deep woods / Lemire, Jeff
“After an apocalyptic pandemic, an ailing father lives deep in the woods with his child, a little boy with deerlike antlers. When his father expires, the boy soldiers on. One day, bounty hunters looking for mutant children beset him. A big man rescues the boy and leads him out of the forest to a refuge for kids like him, he says.” (Adapted from Booklist summary)

Trees. Volume one, In shadow / Ellis, Warren
Trees looks at a near-future world where life goes on in the shadows of the Trees: in China, where a young painter arrives in the “special cultural zone” of a city under a Tree; in Italy, where a young woman under the menacing protection of a fascist gang meets an old man who wants to teach her terrible skills; and in Svalbard, where a research team is discovering, by accident, that the Trees may not be dormant after all, and the awful threat they truly represent.” (Catalogue)

Creative Cozy Crime

   

The classic form of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is echoed in these crime novels.  A perplexing problem to be untangled by an engaging sleuth.  These titles feature a variety of themes from crafty crime with knitters and quilters to culinary crime featuring caterers and chocolate lovers. The settings range from vineyards to seaside villages to captivate the audience and the plot draws the reader along with the detective in question, from bookshop owner to cat detective to knitting group.

If you enjoy our Cozy Crime Collection why not try exploring cozy mysteries titles in our eBook and eAudio collection through Overdrive.

Wellington City Libraries has a great range of these authors and titles, with recent additions in established series and some newly discovered authors adding a fresh voice to this Mysteries sub genre.

Murder wears mittens / Goldenbaum, Sally
“As autumn washes over coastal Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters anticipate a relaxing off-season. The knitters intend to facilitate a family reunion, not investigate a crime. But the death of Dolores Cardozo, a recluse from the edge of town, throws the group for a loop. Especially when the missing mother and one of their own become tied to the victim’s hidden fortune and her murder . . .(Adapted from Catalogue)

The cat sitter and the canary / Clement, Blaize
“Set in the lush and beautiful island of Siesta Key, with a cast of characters that Dixie fans the world over have come to know and love, The Cat Sitter and the Canary is the latest book by Blaize and her son John Clement. A delightful addition to this critically acclaimed series, The Cat Sitter and the Canary is sure to leave both mystery fans and cat lovers alike purring with delight.” (Catalogue)

A catered costume party : a mystery with recipes / Crawford, Isis
“When sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons agree to cater an extravagant Halloween party in their little upstate New York town of Longely, they figured a ghost or two and a blood curdling scream might be part of the menu, but they never expected to be haunted by the deadly specter of murder . . . Was it suicide, induced by despair over his missing spouse? Bernie and Libby think not, once they read the note he left–which includes a sum of money and a request for them to “do something” if anything should happen to him. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Toucan keep a secret / Andrews, Donna
“Meg Langslow is at Trinity Episcopal locking up after an event and checking on the toucan Meg’s friend Rev. Robyn Smith is fostering in her office. After hearing a hammering in the columbarium, Meg finds an elderly parishioner lying dead on the floor of the crypt. Several niches have been chiseled open; several urns knocked out; and amid the spilled ashes is a gold ring with a huge red stone. The curmudgeonly victim had become disgruntled with the church and ranted all over town about taking back his wife’s ashes. Did someone who had it in for him follow him to the columbarium? Why was the ruby left behind?”(Catalogue)

The Cracked Spine / Shelton, Paige
No one was more surprised than Delaney Nichols when she packed her bags and moved halfway across the world to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine, a bookshop located in the heart of the city. Her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime, and Delaney can’t wait to take her spot behind the desk. But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact goes missing, and Edwin’s sister is brutally murdered. Never did Delaney think that searching for things lost could mean a killer, but if she’s to keep her job, and protect her new friends, she’ll need to learn the truth behind this Scottish tragedy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Probable claws / Brown, Rita Mae
“Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen and her friends and animal companions pursue the threads of a mystery dating back to Virginia’s post-Revolutionary past, when their 18th-century predecessors struggled with the challenges of the fledgling country. In the present day, Harry’s new friendship with Marvella Lawson, doyenne of the Richmond art world, leads her to rediscover her own creative passions–and reveals evidence of an all too contemporary crime.” (Catalogue)

Revenge of the crafty corpse / Winston, Lois
“Anastasia Pollack’s dead louse of a spouse has left her with more bills than you can shake a crochet hook at, and teaching craft classes at her mother-in-law’s assisted living center seems like a harmless way to supplement her meager income. But when Lyndella Wegner, a 98-year-old know-it-all with a penchant for ruffles and lace is murdered, Anastasia’s cantankerous mother-in-law becomes the prime suspect. Upon discovering that Lyndella’s X-rated craft projects, and her scandalous behaviormade her plenty of enemies, Anastasia sets out to find the real killer before her mother-in-law ends up behind bars.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

X marks the Scot / Dunnett, Kaitlyn
“After she hires an archivist to help her research a treasure map that she found at the Chadwick estate in Moosetookalook, Maine, Scottish Emporium owner Lisa MacCrimmon is horrified when the archivist is murdered, and takes it upon herself to find the killer.” (Catalogue)

Bloodroot : a Martha’s Vineyard mystery / Riggs, Cynthia
“It’s just another day at the dentist’s office for Victoria Trumbull when fellow patient, wealthy Mrs. Wilmington, dies. It’s an unfortunate, though seemingly not murderous incident, but the receptionist is hysterical, so one of the dental assistants offers to drive her home. But after making a quick pit stop, he finds her body floating in the harbor. With the police shorthanded due to an upcoming presidential visit, it’s up to Victoria to take on the case. As she wrestles with her ex-son-in-law, a $3 million will, and a deadly dental clinic, Mrs. Trumbull discovers that nothing in the case is quite what it seems.” (Catalogue)

Literature as inspiration for graphic novels

There are many great original characters and stories and worlds built in the medium of graphic novels, and there are also some great adaptions that give literary explorers another dimension to classic works.  Inspired by the recent graphic novel Sabrina being longlisted for the Man Booker, we have a list of some ‘literary’ titles for you.

Beginning with The Graphic Canon 1 and 2:

The graphic canon. Volume 1, From the epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons 

The graphic canon. Volume 2, From “Kubla Khan” to the Brontë Sisters to The picture of Dorian Gray

These volumes have a wealth of content and contributors.  From folk tales to classic novels; contemporary artists to historical visionaries. Volume 2 includes William Blake with his own images and words. Such an incredible overview!

Don Quixote. Volume1 / Davis, Rob
“A mixture of reality and illusion, this is the story of the besotted Don Quixote and his down-to-earth companion, the faithful Sancho Panza, who set out to right the world’s wrongs in knightly combat. The narrative moves from philosophical speculation to broad comedy.” (Catalogue)

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick / Chabouté
“In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg.” (Catalogue)

The rime of the modern mariner / Hayes, Nick
“This graphic novel recasts the shimmering horror of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous story into a contemporary context. A mariner appears on a park bench and begins his tale. Cursed by an albatross he slew whilst hunting whales, the mariner and his crew find themselves stranded within the North Pacific Garbage Patch: a vast, hypoxic, slow-whirling maelstrom of plastic waste; a hidden repository for the world’s litter. Along the way, he meets various characters of our current environmental tragedy: a lady made of oil, a deserted ghost-ship drilling barge, a 2-inch salp (the human race’s oceanic ancestor), a blue whale and a hermit. (Catalogue)

The Canterbury tales / Chwast, Seymour
“Accompany a band of merry medieval pilgrims as they make their way-on motorcycles, of course-to Canterbury. Meeting at the Tabard Inn, the travelers, including a battle-worn knight, a sweetly pretentious prioress, the bawdy Wife of Bath, and an emaciated scholar-clerk, come up with a plan to pass time on the journey to Thomas a Becket’s shrine by telling stories.  Chwast’s illustrations relate tales of trust and treachery, of piety and bawdiness, in an engaging style that will appeal to those who have enjoyed The Canterbury Tales for years, and those for whom this is a first, delectable introduction.” (Catalogue)

The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman / Rowson, Martin
“A novel about writing a novel is the subject of this complex classic which has been described as the greatest shaggy dog story in the English language.” (Catalogue)

Howl : a graphic novel / Ginsberg, Allen
The original by Allen Ginsberg caused such a ruckus, there were arrests, an obscenity trial, censorship trials and seizure of material.  Now you can decide for yourself, in colour!

Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and loathing in Las Vegas : a savage journey to the heart of the American dream / Little, Troy
“Records the experiences of a free-lance writer who embarked on a zany journey into the drug culture.” (Catalogue)

…and we finish up with an author from Aotearoa New Zealand: Sarah Laing’s memoir Mansfield and Me looks at the way literature can affect and influence our lives

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one… She was as famous for her letters and diaries as for her short stories. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes. Sarah Laing’s gorgeous, playful drawings and self-deprecating humour lightly mask a complex meditation on writing, celebrity and the conscious construction of self. A very New Zealand coming-of-age story.” (adapted from catalogue)

Take a look at our Tartan Noir

Scottish crime novels cover a wide diversity of styles and themes. Ranging from gritty neo-realistic urban crime novels, exemplified by writers like Stuart McBride, to a much more genteel pastoral style from M. C. Beaton and Joyce Holm. There are also mavericks in the genre, people like Christopher Brookmyre, who taps into a rich and deep vein of black Scottish satirical humour in his thrilling works. Another person who explores different aspects of the genre is Paul Johnson, whose body politic merges the genres of crime and science fiction in a peculiarly Scottish fashion. Perhaps one of the best indicators for the popularity is the large variety of works translated into film and television series, such as M. C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth. 

If you’d like to give these authors a try, check out our Tartan Noir display in the Fiction area at Central Library on the ground floor. Our displays change around frequently, so now is the perfect time to come and browse these Scottish crime authors all in one place.

Keen to try some of these authors online? Wellington City Libraries’ collection on Overdrive has a Tartan Noir list with audiobooks and eBooks free to download or listen to online.

Wellington is welcoming Scottish crime author Denise Minain a LitCrawl event in early September. This will be a chance to hear one of Scotland’s great contemporary writers, don’t miss out!


Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
From Edinburgh Castle to the Fourth Bridge these short stories from a range of authors will introduce you to well known Scottish places through the voices of Scottish crime writers including Val McDermid, Doug Johnstone, Stuart MacBride and more.

Death of a nurse / Beaton, M. C
“James Harrison has recently moved to a restored hunting lodge in Sutherland with his gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty. When Hamish visits Mr Harrison to welcome him to the neighbourhood, the old man treats him very rudely. Gloria apologises for her employer’s behaviour, and Hamish invites her out for dinner. Hamish waits for Gloria at the appointed restaurant. And waits. But Gloria never shows up. Four days later, her body washes up on the beach near Braikie. Hamish must find out who killed the beautiful new resident of Sutherland, and why, before the murderer strikes again.” (Catalogue)

Want you gone / Brookmyre, Christopher
“What if all your secrets were put online? Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.” (Catalogue)

Missing link / Holms, Joyce
“A puzzling new case for sparkling detective duo Fizz and Buchanan. Always in search of a good story, Fizz Fitzgerald finds it hard to hide her impatience when elderly Mrs. Sullivan is shown into her office. Genteel and motherly, Mrs. Sullivan can only spell one thing: boredom. Fizz is more than shocked, therefore, when Mrs. Sullivan asks Fizz to help prove her guilty of murder. Could this story be too good to be true? Fizz is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and ropes in long-suffering partner-in-crime, Tam Buchanan.” (Catalogue)

Skeleton blues : a Quint Dalrymple mystery / Johnston, Paul
“Independent Edinburgh, spring 2034. The weather’s balmy, there’s a referendum on whether to join a reconstituted Scotland coming up — and a tourist is found garotted. As usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the Council of City Guardians’ dirty work. For the first time in his career, Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case. An explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body, and the prime suspect is nowhere to be found.” (Catalogue)

The long drop : a novel / Mina, Denise
“William Watt’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law are dead, slaughtered in their own home in a brutal crime that scandalized Glasgow. Despite an ironclad alibi, police zero in on Watt as the primary suspect, but he maintains his innocence. Distraught and desperate to clear his name, Watt puts out a bounty for information that will lead him to the real killer. Based on true events, The long drop is an explosive, unsettling novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.” (Catalogue)

Latest Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

The Bight Edge of the World cover

Read something great, intriguing, surprising or satisfying? Want to let other people know about it?

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Shelter in place / Roberts, Nora
“Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “One word, ‘Brilliant’. There is a reason why Nora Roberts is an international bestseller, her books just keep getting better and better.” (no rating, but I guess it would be high!)

Ascendant / Campbell, Jack
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A good entry in a good series, although you get more out of it if you’ve red the books that come before it. A more thoughtful approach to political issues than is usual for military science fiction.” (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tane’s war / Weir, Brendaniel
“One lifetime, two battles. It’s 1953 and Briar is a dreamer living with his father in Pukekohe. His behaviour sees him sent to a training farm to be “turned into a man”. But the plan backfires when his arrival awakens feelings in fellow shearer, Aussie. Tane is the farm foreman and his Maori heritage sets him apart. Briar and Aussie threaten the walls Tane has built around his own secret past; walls created in the trenches of WW1. Tane is confronted with a choice. He cannot change history but maybe he can help change the future.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was excellent. It was very cleverly constructed with different interweaving timeframes and connected characters… It was also a sad eye-opener of cruel homophobia. Luckily views in Aotearoa are more tolerant now… (review abridged)” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The boat runner : a novel / Murphy, Devin
“Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was an excellent read for all mature readers… As an avid reader of books in the War genre I think this novel is among the very best with many unexpected twists and turns.  It certainly is thrilling” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kompromat / Johnson, Stanley
Kompromat reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A different slant on political events made this book very entertaining but at times a bit confusing. It told a reasonably plausible story which while not deep was thought provoking. Bang up to date too!”. (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the bright edge of the world / Ivey, Eowyn
“Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was great.  Brought an era to life with a present day contrast to a colonial era.” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐