NZ writers feature in our latest ‘other genre’ fiction picks

This is the fourth ‘other genres’ selection featuring New Zealand writers this year. There has been an amazing number of novels from new and well known writers published this year. Included in this month’s selection are two veterans of New Zealand writing Patrick Evans and C. K. Stead, and two debut novelists, Michalia Arathimos and Jonothan Cullinane.

Syndetics book coverAukati / Michalia Arathimos.
“Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understand the different worlds they inhabit. But when a protest march becomes violent a boundary is crossed, and they need to decide where they stand and fast. It’s clear the police have been tipped off, and the activists gathered at the marae suspect they’re being watched or, worse, there is an informant in the group. Can Alexia and Isaiah be trusted and can they trust themselves?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the white Gate / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“In a park in an antipodean city in the 1930s a teenaged boy starts work as an apprentice nurseryman. It’s an idyllic world, patient and unhurried, with a pace as predictable as the seasons; this is a miniature version of the pre-war colonial empire lying just beyond the park gates. But as secure as the park may seem it can’t protect anyone, least of all Tommy, from the changing world outside. There’s a war coming, an unwanted baby and heartbreaking changes at home. Through all this the park is a constant, a companion, a teacher, a home and a friend. With it he grows, learning wisdom and patience, as the park brings him friendship, love, knowledge and family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe direction of our fear / David Briggs.
“On a morning commuter train in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, the lives of three people briefly intersect. Sally is a 17-year-old, tentatively stepping into womanhood. Brendan is a middle-aged widower, living in the shadow of his wife’s death. Tamas is a Hungarian immigrant, missing his wife and child as he struggles to begin a new life far from home. Meanwhile, in a nondescript building near Dunedin’s Otago University, Farida translates messages for the security services and catches glimpses of a plot that could threaten them all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed herring / Jonothan Cullinane.
“In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O’Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment – and which will threaten their own lives in the process.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSoldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSodden downstream / Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. Roads are closed and all rail is halted. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss. If she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract. This novel charts the help and hindrances that make for a long, damp evening. But the book also highlights the kinds of care and solidarity that come out in times of need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBaby / Annaleese Jochems
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there is an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe necessary angel / C. K. Stead.
“A beautifully written, carefully observed novel that takes you to the heart of contemporary Paris and into a world of books and witty conversation. It can be read on many levels, as a story of people grappling with love and fidelity; as a story about the importance of books in everyday life; as a commentary on living in complex modern-day Europe; and as a page-turning mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOperation Iran / Brian Wilson.
“The CIA have a double agent leaking secrets to the Chinese. In an attempt to identify the double agent, Adam Brown, a senior CIA operative disappears leading to speculation and confusion, which is added to when Frank, a world renowned physicist becomes involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read around the globe: New translated fiction

Translated novels feature in this month’s selection of ‘Other Genres’ fiction. With some wonderful novels, translated from Swedish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, French, Turkish and Hungarian, many hours of reading pleasure are guaranteed.

Syndetics book coverNevada days / Bernardo Atxaga ; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.
“A fictionalised account of the author’s nine months’ stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. He is accompanied by his wife, Angela, who is also doing research there, and by their two daughters. During their first few weeks, the family encounter a strange mapache (racoon), which is always staring at them from the garden, a flight of helicopters immediately overhead, a black widow spider, a warning about bears, a party of prisoners in the desert, a lake that is somehow far too calm and too blue, and, not long into their stay, the kidnap and murder of a young girl living in the house right next door.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenance / Kanae Minato ; translated by Philip Gabriel.
“The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma. When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emili by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emili is found murdered hours later. Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emili’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWaiting for Monsieur Bellivier / Britta Röstlund ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
“Are you waiting for Monsieur Belliver, madame? Helena Folasadu should of course say no. She doesn’t know the man talking to her, she doesn’t know Monsieur Bellivier, and she certainly isn’t waiting for him. But, bored of life, and sparked by a whim, she says yes. The go-between leads her to a deserted floor in an office building and offers her a large sum of money to sit at a computer and forward emails to Monsieur Bellivier. The emails turn out to be in code, and the bouquets Helena is handed every evening entangle her in an even greater mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe history of bees / Maja Lunde.
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame. United States, 2007, George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China 2098, Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him. Three very different narratives lead into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSundays in August / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Damion Searls.
“Stolen jewels, black markets, hired guns, crossed lovers, unregistered addresses, people gone missing, shadowy figures disappearing in crowds, newspaper stories uncomfortably close and getting closer, this ominous novel is Set in Nice. A young couple in hiding keeps close watch over a notorious diamond necklace known as the Southern Cross, with its provenance murky, only they know it’s whereabouts, who find themselves trapped by its potential value, and its ultimate cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
“On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before. In the nearby town, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red Haired woman, an irresistibly alluring member of a travelling theatre company, catches his eye and seems as fascinated by him as he is by her. The young man’s wildest dream will be realized, but, when in his distraction, a horrible accident befalls the well-digger; the boy will flee, returning to Istanbul. Only years later will he discover whether he was in fact responsible for his master’s death and who the redheaded enchantress was.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe children / Carolina Sanín ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.
“One day, as she enters her local supermarket, Laura Romero has a startling encounter with a beggar, who seems to offer her a child. A short while later, in the middle of the night, she discovers a mysterious young boy on the pavement outside her apartment building: Fidel, who is six years old, a child with seemingly no origins or meaning. With few clues to guide her as she tries to attach significance to his presence, Laura find herself swept into a bureaucratic maelstrom of fantastical proportions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKatalin Street / Magda Szabó ; translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix.
“In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe postman’s fiancée / Denis Thériault ; translated by John Cullen.
“Tania moves from Bavaria to Montreal to fine-tune her French and fall in love. Finding work as a waitress at a low-key restaurant in a working-class area of the city, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who writes haiku and who is passionate about calligraphy. The two become friends. One stormy day their lives take a dramatic turn, and as their destinies become increasingly entwined the two are led into a world where nothing is as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

From Kilbirnie to Kapiti and beyond: New NZ fiction

New Zealand writers are the feature of this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. There is much variation of genre in this selection, with mysteries, psychological thrillers, science fiction, historical, and contemporary life all represented. Included is Witi Ihimaera’s amazing new work titled, Sleeps standing: a story of the Battle of Orakau.

Syndetics book coverSix murders? : the strange case of the Welly alley strangler / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“When Faith and her husband accidentally get involved in the weird life of Ponytail O’Gorman, a beguiling old fraudster, they have no idea how much he will disrupt their peaceful life in suburban Kilbirnie. But he convinces them to help him in his strange quest to find both his friend from prison, Simple Simon, and his own missing cell phone which is being sought by a bunch of desperate crooks as well as by the head of Wellington CIB. Determined to help the strangely charming little con-man and so discover the truth about the notorious Welly Alley Strangler.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sound of her voice : one cop’s descent into darkness / Nathan Blackwell.
“To Detective Matt Buchanan, the world is a pretty sick place. He has probably been in the job too long, for one thing. And then there’s 14-year-old Samantha Coates, and the other unsolved murder cases. Those innocent girls he just can’t get out of his head. When Buchanan pursues some fresh leads, it soon becomes clear he’s on the trail of something big. As he pieces the horrific crimes together, Buchanan finds the very foundations of everything he once believed in start to crumble.” (Adapted from Syndeics summary)

Syndetics book coverA killer harvest / Paul Cleave.
“Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It has taken loved ones from him, it has robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason why his father is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: an operation that will allow him to see the world through his father’s eyes. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what these eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. What exactly was his dad up to in his role as a police officer? There are consequences to the secret life his father was living, and these consequences come in the form of a man hell bent on killing, consequences that bring this man closer and closer to Joshua.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecline & fall on Savage Street / Fiona Farrell.
“A fascinating novel about a house with a fanciful little turret, built by a river. Unfolding within its rooms are lives of event and emotional upheaval. A lot happens. And the tumultuous events of the twentieth century also leave their mark, from war to economic collapse, the deaths of presidents and princesses to new waves of music, art, architecture and political ideas. Meanwhile, a few metres away in the river, another creature follows a different, slower rhythm. And beneath them all, the planet moves to its own immense geological time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStraight and level : a Claire Hardcastle mystery / Penelope Haines.
“The sequel to Death on D’Urville sees Claire Hardcastle involved in another adventure. Her partner, Jack, has been sent on secondment to the Solomon’s and Claire plans to use the time he’s away to settle down to her studies. If only life were that simple! The night Claire meets newly arrived property developer Jim Mason is also the night she has a chance conversation with investigative journalist Andrew Camborne, who’s been researching reports of crime and corruption on the Kapiti Coast. A short time later, Claire is witness to an altercation between the two men. The next morning, Andrew’s dead body is found on a Paraparaumu Street. Is the cause of death accident, or homicide?” (Adapted from Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverCatching the last tram / Susan Holt.
“After moving house, lonely librarian Beth meets Isaac, a handsome man with timeless manners on her way to work. Sharing the same antiquated tram day after day, the pair becomes close and Beth suspects she is falling in love. But Isaac has a secret that threatens their budding romance. Something dark and as magical as the tram that picks her up every morning and evening. Why does he suddenly push her away? Does he really not care for her? How could she have got the signals so wrong? Then Isaac and the tram go missing and Beth begins to discover the truth. But it might be too late.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSleeps standing : a story of the Battle of Orākau / Witi Ihimaera ; with Hēmi Kelly.
“Both fiction and fact, this fascinating book is a kaleidoscopic exploration of the Battle of Orakau. During three days in 1864, 300 Maori men, women and children fought an Imperial army and captured the imagination of the world. The battle marked the end of the Land Wars in the Waikato and resulted in vast tracts of land being confiscated for European settlement. Instead of following the usual standpoint of the victors, this book takes a Maori perspective, which views the battle through the eyes of a 16-year-old boy named Moetu. Alongside the novella are non-fiction narratives from Maori eyewitnesses, together with images and a Maori translation by Hemi Kelly, further giving voice to and illuminating the people who tried to protect their culture and land.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFletcher of the Bounty : a novel / Graeme Lay.
“On 28 April 1789 Fletcher and his followers take control of HMAV Bounty and set commander William Bligh adrift in the ship’s launch. What follows is a story brimming with conflict as Fletcher, his fellow-mutineers and their Tahitian women seek sanctuary from the wrath of the Royal Navy, then attempt to build a new society on remote Pitcairn Island. But their attempts are doomed, as envy, lust and racism destroy the Utopia that Fletcher and Isabella dreamed of. This is historical fiction at its finest.” (adapted from Mightyape.co.nz)

Syndetics book coverTess / Kirsten McDougall.
“In the silence she could hear the oncoming hum, like a large flock approaching. She didn’t want to hear his story; she’d had enough of them. Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Short Stories in August

This month we have selected new short story collections as the feature for our ‘Other Genres’ category. Included are three anthologies, one from Canada, with fictional stories about climate change, another a collection of stories from Icelandic writers and lastly an interesting concept of very short stories written on Twitter. This selection also includes the latest horror stories from the prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates.

Syndetics book coverAustralia Day / Melanie Cheng.
Australia Day is a collection of stories by debut author Melanie Cheng. The people she writes about are young, old, rich, poor, married, widowed, Chinese, Lebanese, Christian, and Muslim. What they have in common, no matter where they come from, is the desire we all share to feel that we belong. The stories explore universal themes of love, loss, family and identity, while at the same time asking crucial questions about the possibility of human connection in a globalized world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCli-fi : Canadian tales of climate change / edited by Bruce Meyer ; afterword by Dan Bloom.
“With the world facing the greatest global crisis of all time, climate change, personal and political indifference has wrought a series of unfolding complications that are altering our planet, and threatening our very existence. Reacting to the warnings sounded by scientists and thinkers these stories of Climate Fiction (Cli-fi) feature perspectives by culturally diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works, and transcend traditional doomsday stories by inspiring us to overcome the bleak forecasted results of our current indifference.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverThe redemption of Galen Pike / Carys Davies.
“From remote Australian settlements to the snows of Siberia, from Colorado to Cumbria, restless teenagers, middle-aged civil servants, and Quaker spinsters traverse expanses of solitude to reveal the secrets of the human heart. Stories that remind us how little we know of the lives of others.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLetters from Klara and other short stories / Tove Jansson ; translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal.
“The rich seam that is Jansson’s adult prose continues with this penultimate collection of short stories, written in her seventies at the height of her Moomin fame and translated into English for the first time. In these light-footed, beautifully crafted yet disquieting stories, Jansson tells of discomfiting encounters, unlooked for connections and moments of isolation that span generations and decades.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDis mem ber : and other stories of mystery and suspense / Joyce Carol Oates.
“Joyce Carol Oates is renowned for her rare ability to “illuminate the mind’s most disturbing corners”. That genius is on full display in her new collection of seven feverishly unsettling works, that includes “The Crawl Space,” winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction and a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOut of the blue : new short fiction from Iceland / Helen Mitsios, editor ; foreword by Sjón.
“This extraordinary collection, the first anthology of Icelandic short fiction published in English translation, features work by twenty of Iceland’s most popular and celebrated living authors. Included is a story titled, Self Portrait by Auaur Jonsdottir granddaughter of Halldor Laxness, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature. This collection is an excursion to an island where almost two million travelers descend yearly on a population of 345 thousand natives. This promises to be a seminal collection that will define Icelandic literature in translation for decades to come.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTales on tweet : illustrated short fiction / edited & curated by Manoj Pandey.
“Manoj Pandey tweeted out several stories. Then others began tweeting tales right back at him: Margaret Atwood and Kabir Bedi with death tales, Salman Rushdie and Jeet Thayil with their dark humour, Teju Cole meditating on loneliness, Prajwal Parajuly on literature, Shashi Tharoor on India. It was a literary moment of sorts: spontaneous, changeable, tangential and then, just like Twitter itself, surprisingly poignant in bursts and flashes. But it was when these stories came together with Yuko Shimizu’s phantasmagorical images that Tales on Tweet stepped off the scrollable vortex of a webpage and into the tactile intimacy of the reading experience.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWait till you see me dance : stories / Deb Olin Unferth.
“For more than ten years, Deb Olin Unferth has been publishing startlingly askew, wickedly comic, cutting-edge fiction in magazines such as Granta, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s and The Paris Review. Her stories are revered by some of the best American writers of our day, but until now there has been no stand-alone collection of her short fiction. This unforgettable collection consists of several extraordinary longer stories as well as a selection of intoxicating very short stories.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe refrigerator monologues / Catherynne M. Valente ; with illustrations by Annie Wu. 
“A series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSour heart : stories / Jenny Zhang.
“A debut story collection that conjures the experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City, frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat, dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck, these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genre’ fiction for July featuring NZ writers

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. This selection highlights the diversity of subject and genres in New Zealand fiction, from historical to science fiction, romance to biographical, horror to contemporary New Zealand life. Highly recommended, both historical, are Heloise by Mandy Hager, her first adult novel and Through the Lonesome Dark by much acclaimed writer Paddy Richardson.

Syndetics book coverThe Nam legacy : a novel / Carole Brungar.
The Nam Legacy is an epic love story set during the ’60s and ’70s. When the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane drove parents crazy, teenagers found sexual freedom and peace slogans covered placards. When Vietnam abducted the nation’s young men and sent them to fight in New Zealand’s most controversial campaign. After 18 months in Vietnam, New Zealand soldier Jack Coles thought killing others to stay alive would be the hardest thing he would ever have to live with. He was wrong. Although the nightmare of what he saw and did still haunts him constantly, what tortures him the most is what he has left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last McAdam / Holly Ford.
“This romantic, irresistibly entertaining novel tells the story of Tess Drummond, who’s been sent to turn around the fortunes of a remote sheep and cattle station her employer has taken over. What Tess hasn’t counted on is coming up against the station’s handsome and charismatic head stockman, Nate McAdam, whose family owned the property for generations.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeloise / Mandy Hager.
“What happens when the 12th century’s most famous French lovers are caught in the crossfire of factions, religious reform and zealotry? Heloise has an exceptional mind. In her determination to pursue learning rather than marriage or life as a cloistered nun, her path inevitably crosses with Peter Abelard, the celebrity philosopher, theologian and master at Paris’ famed Cathedral School. When two such brilliant minds meet and engage, sparks are likely to fly. But theirs is an impossible love. At a time when the Gregorian Reforms are starting to bite and celibacy among the clergy and church officials is being rigorously imposed, these two embark on an affair that will see their lives forever changed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmpress of the fall / David Hair.
“Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power, but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war. The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood sons : a novel of the Great War / Greg Hall
“In early 1914 Frank Wilson and his two close friends, Tom Davis and Robert Sutherland, are growing up in Oamaru in the South Island of New Zealand. The coming war in Europe arouses the hopes and dreams of a generation of young men. The pressure becomes irresistible and one by one the boys become soldiers. Frank delays his decision but in 1916 a strange encounter shocks him into enlisting. After a rapid coming-of-age in the training camps of the North Island the novel moves to France. A reunion, the insanity of a love affair in the midst of a terrible war and a brutal event set Frank on course for the best and worst days of his young life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInto the mist / Lee Murray.
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tahoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place in winter. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them. They backtrack toward civilization, stalked by a prehistoric creature intent on picking them off one by one. With their weapons ineffective, the babysitting job has become a race for survival.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe suicide club / Sarah Quigley.
“When Bright is suddenly catapulted to fame, he can’t cope with the pressure. He decides to end it all by jumping from the 20th floor of a high-rise on his twentieth birthday. He’s saved by the quirky, eccentric Gibby, and soon the two boys find themselves in a love triangle, vying for the attention of the beautiful, brilliant, unreachable Lace, and also trying to protect her from harm. The three misfits, close to genius, close to the brink, travel from England to a beautiful old spa town in Bavaria. Here, in an experimental institution under the colourful Dr Geoffrey, the pressure mounts. Soon it’s no longer clear who’s in the greatest danger and who needs saving the most.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThrough the lonesome dark / Paddy Richardson.
“Blackball, West Coast, pre-World War I. For three youngsters; Pansy, Clem and Otto, life had an idyllic surface with a far from idyllic underside in this mining town. As a World War approaches, the harsh realities become apparent, just because you are smart and motivated there is no certainty that you can advance yourself in this world, especially if you are a girl. With a light hand on a dark time in history, Paddy Richardson navigates the territory between.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe insides of banana skins / Jane Seaford.
“Sukey, seventeen, lost and uncertain, shares a crowded, shabby flat with Kitty, who becomes a stripper, with Malc, a drug dealer, and Jaz, a drama student with sexual identity issues. Bridie, who lives downstairs, sells sex to support her two kids This is Sukey’s story, told from her point of view, about a young girl in a strange world and how she gradually learns to live in it.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFive Strings / Apirana Taylor.
“Mack is a larger-than-life street philosopher and Puti’s a former gang member looking for something more. Together they’re at the bottom of the heap. They live out their lives in a haze of smoke and alcohol, accompanied by a host of other characters scraping by on the fringes of society. Will any of them be redeemed?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSouthern gold : survival and desire in a raw new land / Jude Thomas.
“Set in Dunedin and Central Otago during the gold rush period, from 1858 to1876. The story revolves around an illegitimate baby who is found on the road and brought up in the notorious community of Maclaggan Street. She grows into a singular girl, and into a young woman to be reckoned with. This is the story of courage and love against the odds.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’, this month featuring Historical Fiction

Recently received historical novels are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. Included are three translated historical novels, and the latest novel by Colm Toibin, a re-working of Greek mythology. Highly recommended is The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve, set in Maine in 1947.

Syndetics book coverThe revolution of the moon / Andrea Camilleri ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
“Sicily, 1677. From his deathbed, Charles III’s viceroy, the marquis of Castle Rodrigo, names his wife as his successor. Eleanora de Moura is a highly intelligent and capable woman who immediately applies her political acumen to heal the scarred soul of Palermo, a city afflicted by poverty, misery and the frequent uprisings that are their consequences. But the machinations of powerful men soon result in Donna Eleanora, whom the Church sees as a dangerous revolutionary, being recalled to Spain. Her rule lasted 27 days, the exact time it takes for the moon to complete a cycle.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe principle / Jérôme Ferrari ; translated from the French by Howard Curtis.
“Beguiled by the figure of German physicist Werner Heisenberg, who, with his notorious uncertainty principle disrupted the assumptions behind quantum mechanics, earning him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1932, a young, disenchanted philosopher attempts to right his own intellectual and emotional course, and take the measure of the evil at work in the contemporary world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe confessions of young Nero / Margaret George.
“In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman, or child. As a boy, Nero’s royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead. While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina’s machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero’s determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become an Emperor who became legendary.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe evening road / Laird Hunt.
“Ottie Lee Henshaw, is a startling, challenging beauty in small-town Indiana. Quick of mind, she navigates a stifling marriage, a lecherous boss, and on one day in the summer of 1930 an odyssey across the countryside to witness a dark and fearful celebration. Calla Destry is a determined young woman desperate to escape the violence of her town and to find the lover who has promised her a new life. On this day, the countryside of Jim Crow-era Indiana is no place for either. It is a world populated by frenzied demagogues and crazed revelers, by marauding vigilantes and grim fish suppers, by possessed blood hounds and, finally, by the Ku Klux Klan itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe patriots : a novel / Sana Krasikov.
“When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe frozen hours : a novel of the Korean War / Jeff Shaara.
“June 1950. The North Korean army invades South Korea, intent on uniting the country under Communist rule. In response, the United States mobilizes a force to defend the overmatched South Korean troops, and together they drive the North Koreans back to their border with China. But several hundred thousand Chinese troops have entered Korea, laying massive traps for the Allies. In November 1950, the Chinese spring those traps. Allied forces, already battling stunningly cold weather, find themselves caught completely off guard as the Chinese advance around the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. A force that once stood on the precipice of victory now finds itself on the brink of annihilation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe stars are fire / Anita Shreve.
“In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands’ fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms, joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain. And then the unthinkable happens and Grace’s bravery is tested as never before.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHouse of names / Colm Toibin.
“Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, the murderess Clytemnestra tells of the deception of Agamemnon, how he sacrificed her eldest daughter, her beloved Iphigenia, to the Trojan campaign; how Clytemnestra used what power she had, seducing the prisoner Aegisthus, turning the government against its lord; plotting the many long years until her beacon fires announce the king’s return. Electra, daughter of a murdered father, loyal subject of the rightful king, studies Clytemnestra and her lover with cold anger and slow-burning cunning. She watches as they walk the gardens and corridors of the palace. She waits for the traitors to become complacent, to believe they are finally safe; she waits for her exiled brother, Orestes, for the boy to become a warrior, for fate to follow him home. She watches and she waits, until her spies announce her brother’s return.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRetribution Road / Antonin Varenne ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“Burma, 1852. Arthur Bowman, a sergeant in the East India Company, is sent on a secret mission during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. But the expedition is foiled, his men are captured and tortured. Throughout their ordeal, a single word becomes Bowman’s mantra, a word that will stiffen their powers of endurance in the face of unimaginable suffering: “Survive”. But for all that, only a small number escape with their lives. Some years later in London, battling his ghosts through a haze of alcohol and opium, Bowman discovers a mutilated corpse in a sewer. The victim appears to have been subjected to the same torments as Bowman endured in the Burmese jungle. And the word “Survive” has been daubed in blood by the body’s side. Persuaded that the culprit is one of the men who shared his captivity, Bowman resolves to hunt him down.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnne Boleyn : a king’s obsession / Alison Weir.
“The second captivating novel in the series. An unforgettable portrait of the ambitious woman whose fate we know all too well, but whose true motivations may surprise you. Fresh from the cultivated hothouse of Renaissance France, Anne draws attention at the English court. A nobleman, a poet and a king vie for her love. She has a spirit worthy of a crown and a crown is what she seeks. It is a more powerful aphrodisiac than love. So she embarks on her perilous course, which will plunge a kingdom into turmoil.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ this month featuring New Zealand fiction

This month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection features New Zealand writers. Here is a wonderful collection of talented skilful writing, from debut novelists, such as Bonnie Etherington and Sarah Schmidt, to ever popular veteran writers such as Jenny Pattrick, Elspeth Sandys and Damien Wilkins. All will provide many hours of enjoyable reading.

Syndetics book coverThe Chinese proverb / Tina Clough.
“Army veteran Hunter Grant thought he had left war behind in Afghanistan, a conflict that left him with physical and psychological scars. But finding an unconscious girl in the Northland bush and gradually untangling her story involves him in a war of a different kind in his own country. Hunter sets out to find and punish the man Dao calls Master, but he soon finds there is more to this story than enslavement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe earth cries out / Bonnie Etherington.
“After the accidental death of Ruth’s five-year-old sister, their father decides that atonement and healing are in order, and that taking on aid work in a mountain village in Irian Jaya is the way to find it. It is the late 1990s, a time of civil unrest and suppression in the Indonesian province now known as West Papua. The family drops into what seems the middle of nowhere, where they experience a vibrant landscape, an ever-changing and disorientating world, and for Ruth new voices. While her parents find it a struggle to save themselves, let alone anyone else, Ruth seeks redemption in bearing witness to and passing on the stories of those who have been silenced, even as she is haunted by questions about what it means to witness and who gets to survive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverBrushstrokes of memory / Karen McMillan.
“On her thirty-second birthday, Rebecca is in high spirits. Life could not be better. She adores her husband of seven years, Daniel, a successful musician. She is carving out a reputation as a talented painter after several successful exhibitions. She expects to juggle travel, motherhood and a stellar career in the future. But in 2003 she wakes in a hospital after a head injury and finds out that nine years, nine months and nineteen days of her life are erased from her memory. Now nearly forty two she can’t remember anything after her thirty second birthday, a decade fraught with changes she never would have anticipated” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe plot to kill Peter Fraser / David McGill.
“Peter Fraser was our greatest prime minister on the international stage. He proved it as World War Two was ending and he played a major part in shaping the United Nations. In the process he made enemies. He is back in New Zealand, where a plot is under way to kill him. If it is successful, New Zealand’s influence on the international stage ends and the country descends into chaos, a divided country ripe for international manipulation. Former detective Dan Delaney returns from sitting out the war in Italian and German prison camps. All he wants is a peaceful life with his refugee bride, but his old boss Inspector Biggart needs his help. The hunt for would-be Nazi assassins takes them into Wellington’s black market underworld, a defensive Italian fishing village and an upmarket yachting haven.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar sailors / James McNaughton.
“In the not too distant future, the effects of climate change devastate the world and New Zealand becomes a haven for elites. When a young couple, from the wrong side of the tracks, gain entry into Wellington’s most exclusive gated community, it appears their troubles are over. But they find themselves divided over the identity of Sam Starsailor, an alien prophet who has washed up on a beach near New Hokitika and is said to bring warnings from another planet. The couple’s housewarming party becomes an all-night carnival, and revolution gathers beyond the gate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLeap of faith/ Jenny Pattrick.
“Billy is a young, impressionable dreamer. In 1907, he strikes off on his own, keen to prove himself an able worker on the new railroad. It’s being cut through steep mountainsides and across deep gullies to join the two ends of the Main Trunk Line. Also drawn to the remote worker settlements is a preacher, Gabriel Locke, who is running from a shady past and determined to avoid the daily grind. With untimely and suspicious deaths, the horrendous weather, impossible deadlines, the rugged landscape and a blossoming romance, it will take a lot more than a leap of faith for this disparate group to complete the railroad and build the magnificent Makatote viaduct.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverObsession / Elspeth Sandys.
“Two men and woman: the woman obsessed with her husband; the husband obsessed with his island home and the country whose stories he had made it his mission to tell; the man obsessed with the couple whose dynamic both fascinates and repels him. Against a background of two decades of social upheaval, this bitter-sweet tale of tangled relationships moves towards its dramatic unpredictable conclusion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSee what I have done / Sarah Schmidt.
“When her father and stepmother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden, 32years old and still living at home, immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHunters & collectors / M. Suddain.
“John Tamberlain is The Tomahawk, the universe’s most feared food critic, though he himself prefers the term ‘forensic gastronomer’. He’s on a quest, in search of the much-storied Hotel Grand Skies, a secretive and exclusive haven where the rich and famous retreat to bask in perfect seclusion. A place where the waiters know their fish knife from their butter knife, their carotid from their subclavian artery, and are trained to enforce the house rules with brutal efficiency. A mesmeric trip, blurring the lines between detective story, horror and science fiction.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSouthern gold : survival and desire in a raw new land / Jude Thomas.
“Set in Dunedin and Central Otago during the gold rush period, spanning 1858 to 1876. An illegitimate baby is found on the road and brought up in the notorious community of Maclaggan Street. She grows into a singular girl, and into a young woman to be reckoned with.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLifting / Damien Wilkins.
“Amy is a store detective at Cutty’s, the oldest and grandest department store in the country. She’s good at her job. She can read people and catch them. But Cutty’s is closing down. Amy has a young baby, an ailing mother and a large mortgage. She also has a past as an activist. Lifting opens in a police interview room, with Amy narrating the weeks leading up to the chaotic close of Cutty’s, a time when the store moves from permanent feature to ruin and when people under stress do strange things.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for April, this month features psychological thrillers

This month’s ‘Other Genre’ fiction category features psychological thrillers. These novels will ensure the reader is gripped in suspense, with at times moments of unease and menace. Highly recommended is Fever dream : a novel, translated from the Spanish by Samanta Schweblin

Syndetics book coverThe marriage lie / Kimberly Belle.
“Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline; Will was one of the passengers. Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRattle / Fiona Cummins.
“A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter. He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum. Now the time has come to add to his collection. Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs for his collection. So begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe trophy child / Paula Daly.
“Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Roanoke girls / Amy Engel.
“Beautiful, rich, mysterious, the Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies. Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing and Lane has no choice but to go back. She is a Roanoke girl. Is she strong enough to escape a second time?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeneath the skin / Sandra Ireland.
“Taking a job in the studio of an Edinburgh taxidermist probably isn’t Walt’s wisest decision. Suffering from combat stress and struggling to outrun the demons from his past, he now finds himself confronted by the undead on a daily basis. His enigmatic boss, Alys, and her sister, Mouse, have their own uneasy relationship with the past. Someone doesn’t want to let them go. Can Walt save Mouse’s eight-year-old son, William, from becoming the next victim? And can he save himself?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHe said / she said / Erin Kelly.
“In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear. While Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something and someone is always in the dark.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExposure / Aga Lesiewicz.
“When up-and-coming photographer Kristin Ryder begins to receive anonymous emails, her life in a trendy loft in London’s Hoxton with ultra-cool street artist boyfriend, Anton, suddenly feels unsafe. The emails come with sinister attachments that suggest the sender has an intimate knowledge of Kristin’s past, and soon her life spirals out of control. Who can she trust? And will she be able to discover the sender’s identity before it’s too late?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe black sheep / Sophie McKenzie.
“Francesca was widowed a year ago. Since then she has focused on her children, trying to soothe their grief as well as her own. Her husband and father never quite saw eye to eye but no one could have cared more for her in the past year than her close-knit family. Finally, she feels she might be ready to move on with life. Until she is contacted out of the blue by someone who says he must get information to her. That her husband’s death wasn’t what it seemed and that her family knows more than they say. Who can Francesca trust? What will happen to her if she puts her faith in the wrong person?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhirlwind / Hilary Norman.
“Liza Plain, a Boston-based journalist hoping for her big break, is dreading spending Christmas in Shiloh, Rhode Island, with her difficult grandfather, until news of the disappearance of a retired local priest triggers her realization that this could be linked to a series of unsolved, church-linked missing persons cases. Michael Rider used to be a decent man with a good life, but a past traumatic event with far-reaching consequences has left him dangerously close to breaking point. Now he is receiving strange emails from an organisation calling itself Whirlwind, offering him the chance to avenge himself on those who’ve done him wrong. Liza and Michael will both be in Shiloh on Christmas Eve. The night a raging blizzard seals off the town from the outside world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.comFever dream / Samanta Schweblin ; translated by Megan McDowell.
“A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ fiction featuring debut novelists

This month’s ‘Other Genres’ category features debut novelists, with three first novels from Australian writers. There is a wide variation of theme, from historical to psychological thrillers, chic lit to horror and suspense to romance. Highly recommended is the translated novel by German author Dirk Kurbjuweit, titled Fear.

Syndetics book coverThe Florentine Bridge / Vanessa Carnevale.
“Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBarking dogs / Rebekah Clarkson.
“If you took a bird’s-eye view of Mount Barker, you’d see ordinary Australians living on their ordinary suburban blocks in an ordinary regional town. Get closer. Peer through a window. You might see Nathan Long, obsessively recording the incessant bark of a neighbourhood dog, or the Wheeler family sitting down for a meal and trying to come to terms with a shocking discovery. If you listen, you may hear tales of fathers and their wayward sons, of widows who can’t forgive themselves, of children longed for and lost, of thwarted lust and of pure, incorruptible love. Within the shadows is an unspeakable crime.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Image from Fishpond.co.nzThe Crying Place / Lia Hills.
“After years of travelling, Saul is trying to settle down. But one night he receives the devastating news of the death of his oldest friend, Jed, recently returned from working in a remote Aboriginal community. Saul’s discovery in Jed’s belongings of a photo of a woman convinces him that she may hold the answers to Jed’s fate. So he heads out on a journey into the heart of the Australian desert to find the truth, setting in motion a powerful story about the landscapes that shape us and the ghosts that lay their claim.A stunning literary debut that takes the reader into the mysteries and truths that lie at the heart of our country.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe Huntingfield paintress / Pamela Holmes.
“Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland reveled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent traveling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artifacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart, and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a Herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSomeone out there / Catherine Hunt.
“A story of obsession, revenge and deceit, of a woman caught up in terrifying circumstances. Laura Maxwell appears to have it all, perfect career, perfect husband, perfect life. But how well do you really know the people around you? All it takes is one tiny crack to shatter the whole façade.A series of accidents causes Laura to believe that someone is deliberately targeting her, trying to harm her. Fear starts to pervade every part of her life, affecting her work and her marriage, and she feels increasingly isolated. If no one believes Laura’s story, who will be there to protect her when her attacker closes in for the kill?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNina is not ok / Shappi Khorsandi.
“Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all. And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before, then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend. But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFear / Dirk Kurbjuweit ; translated from the German by Imogen Taylor.
“Randolph insists he had a normal childhood, though his father kept thirty loaded guns in the house. Now he has an attractive, intelligent wife and two children, enjoys modest success as an architect and has just moved into a beautiful flat in a respectable part of Berlin. Life seems perfect until his wife, Rebecca, meets the man living in the basement below. Their downstairs neighbour is friendly at first, but soon he starts to frighten them and when Randolph fails to act, the situation quickly spins out of control.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFish in exile / Vi Khi Nao.
“How do you bear the death of a child? with fish tanks and jellyfish burials, Persephone’s pomegranate seeds, and affairs with the neighbors. Fish in Exile spins unimaginable loss through classical and magical tumblers, distorting our view so that we can see the contours of a parent’s grief all the more clearly.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Futures / Anna Pitoniak.
“This is a story of a relationship that falls apart, a story of heartbreak and betrayal. It is the story of a young couple who graduate from Yale in 2008, just as the financial crisis begins and there are no jobs for graduates. It is a story of their new start together in New York City and their tentative first steps into adulthood. It is a story of growing up and taking chances and making terrible mistakes. This is Evan and Julia’s story. This is a love story.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDefender / G X Todd.
“In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road. The moment locks them together. Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet. These voices have purpose, and when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Zealand stories – New ‘Other Genres’ for February

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection of new material. There are several historical novels that bring into focus New Zealand’s political, cultural and social development over the last century. Highly recommend it the new novel by award winning author Karen Hay, titled The March of the Foxgloves.

Syndetics book coverThe Assyrian girl / Thomas W Devine.
“Security contractor, Matt Couper, returns from Iraq with memories of a fifteen year old Assyrian girl, Tara Nasrim, whose life he saved. Five years later, as a refugee, Tara shows up in New Zealand. Even there, Islamic extremism rears its head. Religion clashes with love, vengeance is pursued, and Matt’s world overturns.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe march of the foxgloves / Karyn Hay.
“A late 19th century tale of triumph over obsession and humiliation. London, 1893, and Frances Woodward is tormented by the restrictions of her puritanical father and the cruelties of 19th century narcissist, Benedict Hunt. Having meted out a particularly creative form of revenge upon Hunt, Frances transcends the social norms of the late-Victorian era and travels alone to the far-flung colony of New Zealand, where she is forced to look beyond the establishment life seemingly pre-ordained for her. Falling in with other artists and non-conformists, and inspired by the revolution in thinking brought about by heroic literary figures and social reformers of the time, Frances forges a new path of her own making” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe the ones / Julie Helean.
“Struggling with their own disparate agendas, members of this dysfunctional yet fervent anti-racism cell embark on an earnest quest to disrupt the celebrations planned for the 150-year anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. As Waitangi Day draws near, Charlie, disgruntled with her Pakeha anti-racism group’s endless meetings, leadership squabbles and debates over rhetoric, joins her Maori flat mate Kat on a reckless journey to sabotage the 1990 celebrations and stop the Queen from attending. With growing disregard to consequences, the pair commits to do whatever it takes to have the Treaty honoured and the Maori flag flying at Waitangi.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLewisville / Alexandra Tidswell.
“Martha Grimm has a sorrowful secret, and her daughter Mary Ann is the only other person in New Zealand who knows it. Growing up dirt-poor in Willoughby, Warwickshire, in 1814, Martha dared to imagine a different life. Now she is a wealthy and respectable Wellington settler half a world away. But the cost has been high. Martha cannot speak of the past or the people she left behind. The story of one woman’s ambition, of escape and reinvention, and the bittersweet consequences of achieving one’s dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA striking truth / Helen McNeil.
“Leo Harris, union president at the mill in a one-industry town in the rural heartland, has a problem. So long as I live and breathe, he says, I’ll stand up to power. But the mill’s CEO insists this was a showdown waiting to happen. It’s 1986 and the entire town and its people are caught in the stalemate between the two. With their livelihoods, their families, their identities under siege, everyone must choose where their loyalties ultimately lie. It’s not just about work; marriages, family relationships, whakapapa are in jeopardy and long held secrets burst to the surface.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecond time around / E.M. Richmond.
“Established business journalist Georgia Hayden is asked to interview an old friend, Quinn Masters when he returns to New Zealand from the UK where he has been for the past twelve years. Quinn’s wife, and mother of his teenage daughter, died in a tragic accident thirteen years earlier. Georgia is divorced from her husband and has a two year old son. When they meet they discover a mutual attraction, but are both gun-shy. If they can get past their own issues, they may find love is indeed lovelier the second time around.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA French wedding / Hannah Tunnicliffe.
“Max is turning forty. All he wants for his birthday is for his six oldest friends to come to France to eat, dance, drink and laugh for one weekend, and to finally declare his secret, undying love for his best friend, Helen. Juliette gave up the dream of owning an acclaimed Parisian restaurant and returned to her tiny coastal village to nurse her aging parents, but she finds her home much changed, even the boulangerie where she first learned to love baking has fallen upon hard times. Now, as she tries to find her way to a new future, Max’s birthday weekend may just provide the new beginning Juliette is wishing for, but at whose cost?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFurry blur : tales of flash fiction / Barbara Unković.
“Bold, distinctive and written with an acute sense of observation, these diverse tales highlight Unkovic’s skill as a talented writer of Flash Fiction. A unique collection of twenty-eight tales with clear-cut voices from sweet to shocking.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)