Category: Recent picks

New Contemporary Fiction for December

In this selection of new Contemporary Fiction we have included new work from several celebrated authors: the Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon, award winning Margaret Drabble, ever popular Diana Gabaldon, and the much praised debut novelist Francis Spufford. The latest novel from Alison Moore, titled Death and the seaside, comes highly recommend for readers who enjoy a darker type of fiction.

Syndetics book coverThe hanging tree / Ben Aaronovitch.
“Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour. Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about. He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoonglow / Michael Chabon.
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact and the creative power of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe spy : a novel / Paulo Coelho ; translated from the Portuguese by Zoë Perry.
“When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city. As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men. But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter disasters / Viet Dinh.
“Told through the eyes of four people in the wake of a life-shattering earthquake in India, this is an intricate story of love and loss weaving together the emotional and intimate narratives of Ted, a pharmaceutical salesman turned member of the Disaster Assistance Response Team; his colleague Piotr, who still carries with him the scars of the Bosnia conflict; Andy, a young firefighter eager to prove his worth; and Dev, a doctor on the ground racing against time and dwindling resources. Through time and place, hope and tragedy, love and lust, these four men put their lives at risk in a country where danger lurks everywhere.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dark flood rises / Margaret Drabble.
“Fran may be old but she’s not going without a fight. So she dyes her hair, enjoys every glass of red wine, drives around the country for her job with a housing charity and lives in an insalubrious tower block that her loved ones disapprove of. And as each of them, her pampered ex Claude, old friend Jo, flamboyant son Christopher and earnest daughter Poppet, seeks happiness in their own way, what will the last reckoning be? Will they be waving or drowning when the end comes?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe whole town’s talking : a novel / Fannie Flagg.
“Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking. This is an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVirgins / Diana Gabaldon.
“Young Jamie Fraser has left Scotland and, with his best friend Ian Murray, is running with a band of mercenaries in France. Both men have good reason not to go back to their homeland: both are nursing wounds, and despite their best efforts to remedy the situation, both are still virgins. So when a Jewish doctor hires them to escort his granddaughter to Paris, they readily agree. Both men are instantly drawn to the beautiful young lady. What neither know is that their lives and their friendships are about to become infinitely more complicated and a lot more dangerous.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeath and the seaside / Alison Moore.
“With an abandoned degree behind her and a thirtieth birthday approaching, amateur writer Bonnie Falls moves out of her parent’s home into a nearby flat. Her landlady, Sylvia Slythe, takes an interest in Bonnie, encouraging her to finish one of her stories, in which a young woman moves to the seaside, where she comes under strange influences. As summer approaches, Sylvia suggests to Bonnie that, as neither of them has anyone else to go on holiday with, they should go away together to the seaside, perhaps.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEcholand / Per Petterson ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“12-year-old Arvid and his family are on holiday, staying with his grandparents in Denmark. Arvid is confused by the underlying tension between his mother and grandmother, and is grappling with his own sense of self: he’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager, feeling awkward in his own skin, and is unsure of his emotions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGolden Hill / Francis Spufford.
“New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746.One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

There are many widely acclaimed and award winning authors in this month’s selection of New Contemporary Fiction. These include Robert Olen Butler, James Kelman, Elimear McBride and Ali Smith. Combined with other outstanding writers, this selection will provide many hours of reading enjoyment.

Syndetics book coverPerfume River : a novel / Robert Olen Butler.
“In 1967, Robert Quinlan enlists, hoping to secure a noncombatant role in Vietnam, while his younger brother, Jimmy, cuts family ties after his father violently rebukes his antiwar stance. While dining out in Tallahassee, Fla., 47 years later, Robert-now 70 and a university professor-meets a mentally ill homeless man, also named Bob, whom he takes for a Vietnam veteran. He is wrong, but the encounter reawakens memories of the Tet Offensive, when a split-second decision burdened Robert with secrets and guilt. The day after the encounter, Robert’s father, William, shatters his hip, and Jimmy, a resident of Canada since his flight to avoid the draft, is told of William’s uncertain prognosis. As the brothers and those around them face the possibility of a reunion, they look at their relationships anew; meanwhile, an increasingly delusional Bob crosses paths with the family again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy name is Leon / Kit De Waal
“Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. Their mum isn’t feeling herself, so they’ve gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers, since Jake is white and Leon is not.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSiracusa / Delia Ephron.Siracusa
“Two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unravelled. New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine,-Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConclave : a novel / Robert Harris.
“The Pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverDirt road / James Kelman.
“Murdo, a teenager obsessed with music, dreams of a life beyond his Scottish island home. His dad Tom has recently lost his wife and stumbles towards the future, terrified of losing control of what remains of his family life. Both are in search of something as they set out on an expedition into the American South. As they travel they encounter a new world and we discover whether the hopes of youth can conquer the fears of age.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lesser bohemians / Eimear McBride.The Lesser Bohemians
“An Irish girl, just moved to London for theater school in the mid-1990s, meets a charming stranger, a well regarded actor and much older than her. The tumultuous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tidal zone / Sarah Moss.
“Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonizing, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverAutumn : a novel / Ali Smith.
“This is the first installment in a quartet. Seasonal, comprised of four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as are the seasons), explores what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDo not say we have nothing : a novel / Madeleine Thien.
“In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming. As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYesternight / Cat Winters.
“In 1925, child psychologist Alice Lind travels to the stormy coast of Oregon to test the learning abilities of the local children. Michael O’Daire picks her up at the station and offers her a place to stay while she’s in town. He hopes that Alice can help his seven-year-old daughter, Janie, who believes she lived a past life. As Alice learns more of Janie’s story and gathers evidence that the girl might really be experiencing something beyond scientific explanation, she is also drawn into the lives of the child’s parents, particularly the dangerously handsome Michael.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for October

The selections for this month’s new contemporary fiction are all written by prize winning, internationally acclaimed writers, therefore all come highly recommended for amazing reading experiences. Included in this selection is the Australian debut novelist, and winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award for 2016 A. S. Patric for his novel titled Black Rock, white city. A truly stunning novel.

Syndetics book coverHag-seed : The tempest retold / Margaret Atwood.
“It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda, and also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSelection Day / Aravind Adiga.
“Manju is fourteen. He knows he is good at cricket, if not as good as his elder brother Radha. He knows that he hates his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented brother and is fascinated by CSI and curious and interesting scientific facts. But there are many things, about himself and about the world, that he doesn’t know. Everyone around him, it seems, has a clear idea of who Manju should be, except Manju himself. But when Manju begins to get to know Radha’s great rival, a boy as privileged and confident as Manju is not, everything in Manju’a world begins to change and he is faced by decisions that will challenge both his sense of self and of the world around him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe schooldays of Jesus / by J. M. Coetzee.
“David is the small boy who is always asking questions. Simon and Ines take care of him in their new country. He is learning the language; he has begun to make friends. He has the big dog Bolivar to watch over him. But he’ll be seven soon and he should be at school. So David is enrolled in the Academy of Dance in Estrella. It’s here, in his new golden dancing slippers, that he learns how to call down the numbers from the sky. But it’s here too that he will make troubling discoveries about what grown-ups are capable of.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wonder : a novel / Emma Donoghue.
“Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl and soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHot milk : a novel / Deborah Levy.
“Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant, their very last chance, in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia’s mother’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sophia’s role as detective, tracking her mother’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain, deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNutshell / Ian McEwan.
“Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home, a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse, but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCommonwealth / Ann Patchett.
“One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly, thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack rock white city / A. S. Patrić.
“During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children. This is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnother Brooklyn : a novel / Jacqueline Woodson.
“Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything, until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant, part of a future that belonged to them.But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverResolution / A. N. Wilson.
“This powerful novel explores the life and times of one of the greatest British explorers, Captain Cook, and the golden age of Britain’s period of expansion and exploration. Witness to Cook’s brilliance and wisdom, is George Forster, who travelled with Cook as botanist on board the HMS Resolution, on Cook’s second expedition to the southern hemisphere, and penned a famous account of the journey. The novel moves back and forth across time, to depict Forster’s time with Cook, and his extraordinary later life, which ended with his death in Paris, during the French Revolution.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary fiction covers a wide range of different themes and subjects, not only young up-coming writers, but also some well-established acclaimed writers. This month’s selection from our new material is no exception, with psychological thrillers, satire and humour, romantic suspense and historical novels all represented, by authors as well-known as Dave Eggers to young authors such as Eowyn Ivey with her highly praised second novel. All will prove a delight for avid fiction readers.

Syndetics book coverThe last photograph / Emma Chapman.
“Rook Henderson is an award-winning photojournalist, still carrying the hidden scars of war. Now, suddenly, he is also a widower. Leaving his son Ralph to pick up the pieces, Rook packs his belongings and flies to Vietnam for the first time in fifty years. As Rook reconnects with the changed landscape of a place he once knew so well, he reflects upon a life defined through his work in wartime Vietnam, and then further back in time through rural life in the 1970s, fashionable London in the 1960s, a post-war working class childhood in a Yorkshire mining town, and a secret grief he’s never been able to forget. When Ralph follows him to Vietnam, seeking answers from the father he barely knows, Rook is forced to reconsider his marriage to the unforgettable June and the price he has paid for a life behind the lens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeroes of the frontier : a novel / Dave Eggers.
“Josie and her children’s father have split up, she’s been sued by a former patient and lost her dental practice, and she’s grieving the death of a young man senselessly killed. When her ex asks to take the children to meet his new fiancée’s family, Josie makes a run for it, figuring Alaska is about as far as she can get without a passport. Josie and her kids, Paul and Ana, rent a rattling old RV named the Chateau, and at first their trip feels like a vacation. But as they drive, pushed north by the ubiquitous wildfires, Josie is chased by enemies both real and imagined, past mistakes pursuing her tiny family, even to the very edge of civilization.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBelgravia / Julian Fellowes.
“On the evening of 15 June 1815, the great and the good of British Society have gathered in Brussels at what is to become one of the most tragic parties in history, the Duchess of Richmond’s ball. For this is the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, and many of the handsome young men attending the ball will find themselves, the very next day, on the battlefield. For Sophia Trenchard, the young and beautiful daughter of Wellington’s chief supplier, this night will change everything. But it is only twenty-five years later, when the upwardly mobile Trenchards move into the fashionable new area of Belgravia, that the true repercussions of that moment will be felt.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the bright edge of the world / Eowyn Ivey.
“Authorized to lead an 1885 winter exploratory expedition up the Wolverine River into the Alaska interior, Lt. Col. Allen Forrester leaves his wife of a few short months to travel more than 1,000 miles over the most hostile terrain imaginable. Woefully unprepared for the climate, scarcity of food, and potentially hazardous exchanges with the native inhabitants, he and his men find a land that is as deadly as it is mysterious and beautiful. Meanwhile, bride Sophie faces a difficult pregnancy alone in Vancouver, WA. The entire novel consists of the correspondence between the couple-neither of them knowing if those letters will even reach the other. Interspersed are other letters between an exhibitor in Alaska and Allen’s great nephew who wants the Forresters’ story to be curated and preserved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe invoice : a novel / Jonas Karlsson ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“A passionate film buff, whose life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country. What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArrowood : a novel / by Laura McHugh.
“Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago, never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. Now Arden’s own life has fallen apart. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat we become : a novel / Arturo Pérez-Reverte ; translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza García.
“En route from Lisbon to Buenos Aires in 1928, Max and Mecha meet aboard a luxurious transatlantic cruise ship. There Max teaches the stunning stranger and her erudite husband to dance the tango. A steamy affair ignites at sea and continues as the seedy decadence of Buenos Aires envelops the secret lovers. Nice, 1937. Still drawn to one another a decade later, Max and Mecha rekindle their dalliance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy did you lie? / Yrsa Sigurdardóttir ; translated from the icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
“A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide. An ordinary couple returns from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing. Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea. They have one thing in common: they all lied. And someone is determined to punish them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParadise Lodge : a novel / Nina Stibbe.
“Fifteen-year-old Lizzie Vogel takes a job as an “auxiliary nurse” at Paradise Lodge, a home for the elderly, and learns that her job entails helping the patients (frequently) to the bathroom. What begins as a way to avoid school and earn some spending money (for the finer things in life, like real coffee and beer shampoo) quickly becomes the education of a lifetime as Lizzy wades through the day-to-day humdrum and drama of this ramshackle refuge for the elderly. And when a rival nursing home threatens, Lizzie discovers that the staff and residents of Paradise Lodge have become her surrogate family, and the only place she’s ever felt she belongs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe underground railroad : a novel / Colson Whitehead.
“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood, where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Novels for September

The selection of New Contemporary Fiction this month covers a wide range of genres, from historical fiction to humour, psychological thrillers to suspense and translated to futuristic novels. Highly recommended is Lionel Shriver’s humorous, futuristic novel titled, The Mandibles: a family, 2029-2047.

Syndetics book coverThe crime writer / Jill Dawson
“In 1964, the eccentric American novelist Patricia Highsmith is hiding out in a cottage in Suffolk, to concentrate on her writing and escape her fans. She has another motive too, a secret romance with a married lover based in London. Unfortunately it soon becomes clear that all her demons have come with her. Prowlers, sexual obsessives, frauds, imposters, suicides and murderers: the tropes of her fictions clamor for her attention, rudely intruding on her peaceful Suffolk retreat. After the arrival of Ginny, an enigmatic young journalist bent on interviewing her, events take a catastrophic turn, except, as always in Highsmith’s troubled life, matters are not quite as they first appear.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack water / Louise Doughty.
“John Harper lies awake at night in an isolated hut on an Indonesian island, listening to the rain on the roof and believing his life may be in danger. But he is less afraid of what is going to happen than of something he’s already done. In a local town, he meets Rita, a woman with her own troubled history. They begin an affair, but can he allow himself to get involved when he knows this might put her at risk? Moving between Europe during the cold war, California and the Civil Rights struggle, and Indonesia during the massacres of 1965 and the decades of military dictatorship that follow, Black Water is an epic novel that explores some of the darkest events of recent world history through the story of one troubled man.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverField service / Robert Edric.
“Morlancourt, Northern France, 1920.In the aftermath of the world’s bloodiest conflict, a small contingent of battle-worn soldiers remains in France. Captain James Reid and his men are tasked with the identification and burial of innumerable corpses as they come to terms with the events of the past four years. The stark contrast between the realities of burying men in France and the reports of honouring the dead back in Britain is all too clear. But it is only when the daily routine is interrupted by a visit from two women, both seeking solace from their grief, that the men are forced to acknowledge the part they too have played.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHitman Anders and the meaning of it all / Jonas Jonasson ; translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
“It’s always awkward when five thousand kronor goes missing. When it happens at a certain grotty hotel in south Stockholm, it’s particularly awkward because the money belongs to the hitman currently staying in room seven. Per Persson, the hotel receptionist just wants to mind his own business, and preferably not get murdered. Johanna Kjellander, temporarily resident in room eight, is a priest without a vocation, and, as of last week, without a parish. But right now she has two things at her disposal: an envelope containing five thousand kronor, and an excellent idea.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSerious sweet / A.L. Kennedy.
“A good man in a bad world, Jon Sigurdsson is 59 and divorced: a senior civil servant in Westminster who hates many of his colleagues and loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts, a man of conscience. Meg Williams is a bankrupt accountant, two words you don’t want in the same sentence, or anywhere near a CV. She is 45 and shakily sober, living on Telegraph Hill, where she can see London unfurl below her. Somewhere out there is safety. Somewhere out there is Jon, pin balling around the city with a mobile phone and a letter-writing habit he cannot break. He is a man on the brink, leaking government secrets and affection as he runs for his life. Jon and Meg navigate the sweet and serious heart of London, passing through 24 hours that will change them both forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe portable Veblen / Elizabeth McKenzie.
“A riotously funny and deeply insightful adventure through capitalism, the medical industry, family, love, war and wedding-planning. Will a young couple, newly engaged, make it to their wedding day? Will their dysfunctional families ruin everything? Will they be undone by the advances of a very sexy, very unscrupulous heiress to a pharmaceuticals corporation? Is getting married even a remotely reasonable idea in the twenty-first century? And what in the world is a Veblen anyway?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mandibles : a family, 2029 – 2047 / Lionel Shriver.
“In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remaining savings are been rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation .The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also, as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction, the challenge of sheer survival.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll that man is / David Szalay.
“Nine men, each of them at a different stage of life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving, in the suburbs of Prague, beside a Belgian motorway, in a cheap Cypriot hotel, to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing an arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show us men as they are, ludicrous and inarticulate, shocking and despicable; vital, pitiable, hilarious, and full of heartfelt longing. And as the years chase them down, the stakes become bewilderingly high in this piercing portrayal of 21st-century manhood.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe woman in cabin 10 / Ruth Ware.
“This was meant to be the perfect trip. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship, a chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship, except things don’t go as planned. Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat. Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer and she is the sole witness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix four / Hideo Yokoyama ; translated from the Japanese by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies.
“For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again. For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as ‘Six Four’. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The best of the best: must reads from recent fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverCompany Town / Madeline Ashby.
“A brilliantly twisted science fiction mystery.”

Syndetics book coverWaking lions / Ayelet Gundar-Goshen ; translated from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston.
“A thrilling novel from an award winning author that explores the boundaries between love and hate, guilt and forgiveness, good and evil.”

Syndetics book coverReader, I married him : stories inspired by Jane Eyre / edited by Tracy Chevalier.
“Twenty one short stories celebrating Charlotte Bronte, published in the year of her bicentenary and stemming from the now immortal words from her great work Jane Eyre. The stories are by many much acclaimed authors, original and very entertaining.”

Syndetics book coverThe crow girl / Erik Axl Sund ; translated by Neil Smith.The Crow Girl
“Another international sensation, this new Scandinavian murder mystery will not disappoint.”

Syndetics book coverGahan Wilson’s Out there / editor, Gary Groth.
“The joy of the science fiction and fantasy cartoons and writing of Gahan Wilson, guaranteed to make you laugh.”

New Contemporary Fiction for July

Read yourself around the world with this month’s selection of new Contemporary Fiction. With novels sent in Australia, Canada, East Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, and of course America and England, hours of sometimes thought provoking, and at other times pure escapist reading is assured.

Syndetics book coverThe house at the edge of night / Catherine Banner.
“On a tiny island off the coast of Italy, Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, thinks he has found a place where, finally, he can belong. Intrigued by a building the locals believe to be cursed, Amedeo restores the crumbling walls, replaces sagging doors and sweeps floors before proudly opening the bar he names the House at the Edge of Night. Surrounded by the sound of the sea and the scent of bougainvillea, he and the beautiful, fiercely intelligent Pina begin their lives together. Home to the spirited, chaotic Esposito family for generations, the island withstands a century of turmoil, transformed in ways both big and small by war, tourism and recession.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween a wolf and a dog / Georgia Blain.
“Ester is a family therapist with an appointment book that catalogues the anxieties of the middle class: loneliness, relationships, death. She spends her days helping others find happiness, but her own family relationships are tense and frayed. Estranged from both her sister, April, and her ex-husband, Lawrence, Ester wants to fall in love again. Meanwhile, April is struggling through her own directionless life; Lawrence’s reckless past decisions are catching up with him; and Ester and April’s mother, Hilary, is about to make a choice that will profoundly affect then all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWaking lions / Ayelet Gundar-Goshen ; translated from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston.
“A neurosurgeon runs an illegal immigrant over in his car. There are no witnesses, and the man will die in any case-so why endanger his career and report the accident? But the next day, the victim’s wife knocks on the doctor’s door and makes him an offer which will completely derail his well-ordered life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBarkskins : a novel / Annie Proulx.
“In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur”, for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters, barkskins. René is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, and then sets up a timber business. Barkskins tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years, their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions, the revenge of rivals, and cultural annihilation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMarrow Island / Alexis M. Smith.
“It has been twenty years since Lucie Bowen left the islands, since the quake set loose catastrophic waves along the west coast. Then, Lucie’s father disappeared in an explosion at the Marrow Island oil refinery, a tragedy that destroyed the island’s ecosystem and sent Lucie and her mother to the mainland. Back then, Lucie and her best friend, Katie, were hovering under mylar sheets, hoping to survive. Now, Katie writes with strange and miraculous news. Marrow Island is no longer uninhabitable, no longer abandoned. She is part of a community, a mysterious Colony that has, somehow, conjured life again from Marrow’s soil. Lucie returns. Her journalist instincts tell her there’s more to the Colony and their charismatic leader, a former nun with an all-consuming plan, than its members want her to know. What price will she pay for the truth?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Gustav sonata / Rose Tremain.
“Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in ‘neutral’ Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s childhood is spent in lonely isolation, as time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav’s life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverVinegar girl : The taming of the shrew retold / Anne Tyler.
“Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying, as usual on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe finding of Martha Lost / Caroline Wallace.
“Martha is lost. She has been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris. Ever since, she has waited in station lost property for someone to claim her. It’s been sixteen years, but she’s still hopeful. In the meantime, there are mysteries to solve: secret tunnels under the station, a suitcase that may have belonged to the Beatles, the roman soldier who appears at the same time every day with his packed lunch. Not to mention the stuffed monkey that someone keeps misplacing. But there is one mystery Martha cannot solve. And now the authorities have found out about the girl in lost property. Time is running out, if Martha cannot discover who she really is, she will lose everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStasi child / David Young.
“1975. The body of a teenage girl has been found by the East German border; the girl appears to have been fleeing from the West into the East, an uncommon scenario. Her back is riddled with bullet holes, her face has been mutilated beyond recognition and strange tyre tracks pockmark the snow. In an effort to identify the murdered girl, Stasi officer Klaus Jäger enlists the help of Karin Müller, a detective with the Kriminalpolizei. Partnered with her deputy, Werner Tilsner, a man with whom she has been having an illicit affair, Karin is thrust into a conspiracy that sends shockwaves right to the very top of the Secret Police.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New eBook Fiction in July

The Big Library Read is on right now, so join in this global book club with A Murder in Time. If that’s not your cup of tea there are plenty of other great reads new to Overdrive this month. There’s the brand new novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx, as well as the highly praised debut novel from Garth Greenwell and several excellent pieces of New Zealand fiction. Never tried eBooks before? Check out how to get started here.

Overdrive cover A Murder in Time, by Julie McElwain (eBook)
“When brilliant FBI agent Kendra Donovan stumbles back in time and finds herself in a 19th century English castle under threat from a vicious serial killer, she scrambles to solve the case before it takes her life—200 years before she was even born. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Black Earth White Bones, by Chris Else (eBook)
“From one of New Zealand’s most thoughtful writers, not just a finely crafted novel but a whole country, complete with dark undertones. In this, his fifth novel, Chris Else has created an utterly convincing Polynesian setting with its own brilliantly realised language, culture, flora and fauna. His humour and wisdom are at once merciless and forgiving as he uses language to explore man’s – and woman’s – deep-seated need to be both an individual and to belong.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover What Belongs to You, by Garth Greenwell (eBook)
“On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. What Belongs to You is a stunning debut novel of desire and its consequences.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Boys from Eighth and Carpenter, by Tom Mendicino (eBook)
“S. Gagliano & Son has been a barber shop fixture in South Philly for decades. Frankie and Michael presides over the store, enlisting his children as soon as they’re big enough to wield a broom. On their mother’s deathbed, eight-year-old Frankie swears that he and his little brother will always take care of each other. After their father’s death, Frankie takes over the shop and Michael becomes a successful prosecutor. Then comes an unthinkable, impulsive act that will force Michael to choose between risking his comfortable life and keeping a sacred oath.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Naturalist, by Thom Conroy (eBook)
“Based on the real life of Dr Ernst Dieffenbach who arrived in New Zealand in 1839 as a naturalist. What he discovered was fascinating, but what his records didn’t reveal was his own intriguing story. As a young idealist, he plotted a revolution in the name of equality. Imprisoned and then exiled, he fled to London. He hoped to redeem his reputation by joining the expedition to New Zealand. But as he was to discover, the complexities of freedom, exile and equality could not be left behind.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Barkskins, by Annie Proulx (eBook)
“An epic, dazzling, violent, dramatic novel about the taking down of the world’s forests. In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters – barkskins. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over 300 years – their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Gap of Time, by Jeanette Winterson (eBook)
“A baby girl is abandoned, banished from London to the storm-ravaged American city of New Bohemia. Her father has been driven mad by jealousy, her mother to exile by grief. Seventeen years later, Perdita doesn’t know a lot about who she is or where she’s come from – but she’s about to find out. Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale vibrates with echoes of Shakespeare’s original and tells a story of hearts broken and hearts healed, a story of revenge and forgiveness.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Gilded Hour, by Sara Donati (eBook)
“A magnificent epic about two pioneering women doctors in 19th-century New York. The year is 1883, and in New York City it’s a time of dizzying splendor, crushing poverty, and tremendous change. With the gravity-defying Brooklyn Bridge nearly complete and the city in the grip of anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock, Dr Anna Savard and her cousin, Sophie – both graduates of the Women’s Medical School – treat the city’s most vulnerable. Even when doing so puts all they’ve worked for in jeopardy…” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa (eBook)
“Palestine, 1948. The Abulheja family are forcibly removed from their ancestral home in Ein Hod and sent to live in a refugee camp in Jenin. Through Amal, the bright granddaughter of the patriarch, we witness the stories of her brothers: one, a stolen boy who becomes an Israeli soldier; the other who in sacrificing everything for the Palestinian cause will become his enemy. Mornings in Jenin forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining political conflicts of our lifetime.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

New Contemporary Fiction for June

There are an extraordinary number of brilliant writers included in this selection of New Contemporary fiction. There are two works highlighted this month and both are debut novels, from two very talented writers. They are firstly, the multi award winning novel, The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley and secondly, The Bricks that built the Houses by award winning poet Kate Tempest. Both are just dazzling.

Syndetics book coverZero K : a novel / Don DeLillo.
“Jeffrey Lockhart’s father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife, Artis Martineau, whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and Artis at the compound to say “an uncertain farewell” to her as she surrenders her body.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBefore we visit the goddess / Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
“The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family’s situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgivable misstep. Years later, Sabitri’s own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees abroad with her political refugee lover, but the America she finds is vastly different from the country she’d imagined. As the marriage crumbles and Bela is forced to forge her own path, she unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with indelible lessons about freedom, heartbreak, and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLarose / Louise Erdrich.
“Landreaux Iron, an Ojibwe man, accidentally shoots and kills the five-year-old son of his best friend, farmer Peter Ravich, who is not a member of the tribe. After a wrenching session with his Catholic priest, Father Travis, and a soul-searching prayer in a sweat lodge, Landreaux gives his own five-year-old son, LaRose, to grieving Peter and his wife, Nola, who is half-sister to Landreaux’s own wife, Emmaline. In the years that follow, LaRose becomes a bridge between his two families. He also accesses powers that have distinguished his namesakes in previous generations, when LaRose was “a name both innocent and powerful, and had belonged to the family’s healers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Loney / Andrew Michael Hurley.
“When the remains of a young child are discovered during a winter storm on a stretch of the bleak Lancashire coastline known as the Loney, a man named Smith is forced to confront the terrifying and mysterious events that occurred forty years earlier when he visited the place as a boy. At that time, his devoutly Catholic mother was determined to find healing for Hanny, his disabled older brother. And so the family, along with members of their parish, embarked on an Easter pilgrimage to an ancient shrine. But not all of the locals were pleased to see visitors in the area. And when the two brothers found their lives entangling with a glamorous couple staying at a nearby house, they became involved in more troubling rites… Smith feels he is the only one to know the truth, and he must bear the burden of his knowledge, no matter what the cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe other side of silence / Phillip Kerr.The Other Side of Silence
“The French Riviera, 1956. A world-weary Bernie Gunther is working under a false name as a hotel concierge. His attempts to keep his nose clean go horribly awry when a wartime acquaintance sucks him into a blackmail plot involving one of the most famous British writers of the 20th century and the Cambridge Spies.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe association of small bombs / Karan Mahajan.
“When brothers Tushar and Nakul Khurana, two Delhi schoolboys, pick up their family’s television set at a repair shop with their friend Mansoor Ahmed one day in 1996, disaster strikes without warning. A bomb, one of the many “small” bombs that go off seemingly unheralded across the world, detonates in the Delhi marketplace, instantly claiming the lives of the Khurana boys, to the devastation of their parents. Mansoor survives, bearing the physical and psychological effects of the bomb. After a brief stint at university in America, Mansoor returns to Delhi, where his life becomes entangled with the mysterious and charismatic Ayub, a fearless young activist whose own allegiances and beliefs are more malleable than Mansoor could imagine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEverybody’s fool / Richard Russo.
“Sully is staring down a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he only has a year or two left, and he’s busy as hell keeping the news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years. The ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren’t still best friends. Sully’s son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure. Doug Raymer, now Chief of Police and still obsessing over the identity of the man his wife might have been having an affair with before she died in a freak accident. Bath’s mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, who also has a pressing wife problems. And then there’s Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upwards might now come to ruin.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bricks that built the houses / Kate Tempest.
“Becky, Harry, and Leon are leaving London in a fourth-hand Ford with a suitcase full of stolen money, in a mess of tangled loyalties and impulses. But can they truly leave the city that’s in their bones? This novel reaches back through time, through tensely quiet dining rooms and crassly loud clubs–to the first time Becky and Harry meet. It sprawls through their lives and those they touch, of their families and friends and faces on the street, revealing intimacies and the moments that make them. And it captures the contemporary struggle of urban life, of young people seeking jobs or juggling jobs, harboring ambitions and making compromises.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe weeping woman : a novel / Zoe Valdes ; translated by David Frye.
“A writer is preparing a novel on the life of Dora Maar, one of the most promising artists in the Surrealist movement until she met Pablo Picasso. She became The Weeping Woman captured in his famous portrait, and their affair ended with her commitment to an asylum at the hands of Picasso’s friends. The writer’s research centers on a mysterious trip to Venice that Dora took fifteen years later, in the company of two young gay men who were admirers of Picasso. After this episode, Dora cut off contact with the world and secluded herself in her Paris apartment until her death. “After Picasso, God,” she would say. What happened in Venice?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for May

A wonderful variation of styles, plots, locations, and eras, in this selection of new Contemporary Fiction recently added to our fiction collection. Included are three translated novels, two debut and several historical novels, along with new work from some much acclaimed writers. Highly recommended is the most recent novel from veteran writer Edna O’Brien, titled The Little Red Chairs.

Syndetics book cover100 days of happiness / Fausto Brizzi ; English translation by Antony Shugaar.
“What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have, by making every moment count. Imperfect, unfaithful, but loveable Lucio has been thrown out of the house by his wife and is sleeping at his father-in-law’s bombolini bakery when he learns he has inoperable cancer. So begin the last hundred days of Lucio’s life, as he attempts to right his wrongs, win back his wife (the love of his life and afterlife), and spend the next three months enjoying every moment with a zest he hasn’t felt in years.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAt the edge of the orchard / Tracy Chevalier.
“Ohio, 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. Life is harsh in the swamp, and as fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts. James patiently grows his sweet-tasting ‘eaters’ while Sadie gets drunk on applejack made fresh from ‘spitters’. Their fighting takes its toll on all of the Goodenoughs, a battle that will resonate over the years and across America.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLike family / Paolo Giordano ; English translation by Anne Milano Appel.
“When Mrs. A. first enters the narrator’s home, his wife, Nora, is experiencing a difficult pregnancy. First as their maid and nanny, then their confidante, this older woman begins to help her employers negotiate married life, quickly becoming the glue in their small household. She is the steady, maternal influence for both husband and wife, and their son, Emanuele, whom she protects from his parents’ expectations and disappointments. But the family’s delicate fabric comes undone when Mrs. A. is diagnosed with cancer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHide : a novel / Matthew Griffin.
“Set in a declining textile town in North Carolina, Hide is the love story of Wendell Wilson, a taxidermist, and Frank Clifton, a veteran of World War II. They meet after the war, in a time when such love holds real danger. But, severing nearly all ties with the rest of the world, they carve out a home for themselves on the outskirts of town for decades self-reliant domesticity. But when Wendell finds Frank lying motionless outside at the age of eighty-three, their carefully crafted life together begins to unravel. Wendell struggles in vain to keep Frank healthy. Faced with giving care beyond his capacity, he must come to terms with the consequences of half a century in seclusion, the sacrifices they made for each other, and the different lives they might have lived.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYuki Chan in Bronte country / Mick Jackson.
“Yukiko tragically lost her mother ten years ago. After visiting her sister in London, she goes on the run, and heads for Haworth, West Yorkshire, and the last place her mother visited before her death. Against a cold, winter, Yorkshire landscape, Yuki has to tackle the mystery of her mother’s death, her burgeoning friendship with a local girl, the allure of the Bronte family and her own sister’s wrath.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlmost everything very fast : a novel / Christopher Kloeble ; translated from the German by Aaron Kerner.
“Albert is nineteen, grew up in an orphanage, and never knew his mother. All his life Albert had to be a father to his father: Fred is a child trapped in the body of an old man. He spends his time reading encyclopedias, waves at green cars, and is known as the hero of a tragic bus accident. Albert senses that Fred, who has just been given five months left to live, is the only one who can help him learn more about his background. With time working against them, Albert and Fred set out on an adventurous voyage of discovery that leads them via the underground sewers into the distant past, all the way back to a night in August 1912, and to the story of a forbidden love.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe North water : a novel / Ian McGuire.
“Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation. In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which man can stoop. He had hoped to find temporary respite on the Volunteer, but rest proves impossible with Drax on board. The discovery of something evil in the hold rouses Sumner to action. And as the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter, the fateful question arises: who will survive until spring?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little red chairs : a novel / Edna O’Brien.
“One night, in the dead of winter, a mysterious stranger arrives in the small Irish town of Cloonoila. Charismatic Dr. Vladimir Dragan is a poet, a self-proclaimed holistic healer, and a welcome disruption to the monotony of village life. Before long, the beautiful Fidelma McBride falls under his spell and, defying the shackles of wedlock and convention, turns to him to cure her of her deepest pains. Then, one morning Dr. Vlad is arrested and revealed to be a notorious war criminal and mass murderer. The Cloonoila community is devastated by this revelation, and no one more than Fidelma, who is made to pay for her deviance and desire. In disgrace and utterly alone, she embarks on a journey that will bring both profound hardship and, ultimately, the prospect of redemption.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe nest / Cynthia D’Apriz Sweeney.
“Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe arrangement / Ashley Warlick.
“Los Angeles, 1934. Mary Frances is on the cusp of becoming M.F.K. Fisher — the writer whose artful personal essays about food created a genre. She is hungry, and not just for food: she wants Tim, her husband Al’s charming friend, who encourages her writing and seems to understand her. After a night’s transgression with Tim, it’s only a matter of time before Mary Frances claims what she truly desires, plunging all three of them into a tangled triangle of affection that will have far-reaching effects on their families, their careers and their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShelter / Jung Yun.
“For years, Kyung Cho and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage; private tutors, expensive hobbies, but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now; much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)


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