Category: Recent picks

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 Genre’ 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)

New ‘Other Genres’ this month featuring translated novels

Some fabulous reading entertainment from around the world is provided in this month’s selection of new ‘Other Genres’ fiction. There is a wide range of translated novels, from Sweden, Germany, France, Japan, Israel, Algeria and Russia. Highly recommended is the Japanese best seller, by popular Banana Yoshimoto, titled Moshi Moshi.

Syndetics book coverAnd every morning the way home gets longer and longer : a novella / Fredrik Backman ; translated by Alice Menzies.
“An exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis house is mine / Dörte Hansen ; translated from the German by Anne Stokes.
“All her life Vera has felt like a stranger in the old and drafty half-timbered farmhouse she arrived at as a five-year-old refugee from East Prussia in 1945, and yet she can’t seem to let it go. Sixty years later, her niece Anne suddenly shows up at her door with her small son. Anne has fled the trendy Hamburg, Germany neighborhood she never fit into after her relationship imploded. Vera and Anne are strangers to each other but have much more in common than they think. As the two strong-willed and very different women share the great old house, they find what they have never thought to search for: a family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween life and death / Yoram Kaniuk ; translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Harshav.
“Famed Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk describes the four months during which he lay unconscious in a Tel Aviv hospital, hovering between the world of the living and that of the dead. Shifting between memory and illusion, imagination and testimony, this novel probes into the place of death in society, the lust for life, and the force of human relationships.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe angels die / Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by Howard Curtis.
“As a child living in a ghetto, Turambo dreamt of a better future. When his family find a home in the city anything seems possible. Through a succession of menial jobs, the constants for Turambo are rage at the injustice surrounding him, and a reliable left hook. A boxing apprenticeship offers Turambo a choice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe graveyard apartment / Mariko Koike ; translated from the Japanese by Deborah Boliver Boehm.
“A young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow into, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that the longer they stay, the more trapped they become.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mayakovsky tapes : a novel / Robert Littell ; translated from the Russian by R. Litzky.
“In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow’s deluxe Metropole Hotel. They have gathered, not altogether willingly, to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure. Each of these ladies loved Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their memories of him, a portrait of the artist emerges.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverDon’t turn out the lights / Bernard Minier ; translated by Alison Anderson.
“Martin Servaz is on leave in a clinic for depressed cops, haunted by his childhood sweetheart Marianne’s kidnapping by his nemesis, the psychopath Julian Hirtmann. One day, he receives a key card to a hotel room in the mail, the room where an artist committed suicide a year earlier. Someone wants him to get back to work, which he’s more than ready to do, despite his mandatory sick leave. Servaz soon uncovers evidence of a truly terrifying crime. Could someone really be cruelly, consciously hounding women to death?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStory of a sociopath : a novel / Julia Navarro.
“Thomas Spencer is a man who knows how to get what he wants, though his poor health and aging looks are the price he’s had to pay. He wears these features proudly, like scars from the battles that propelled him to the top in his glamorous career as a publicist and media maven. But lately, after several cardiac episodes, he senses that his time in the sun is dwindling. In the solitude of his luxurious Brooklyn apartment, he begins to look back on the convoluted trajectory his life has taken. What follows is a spellbinding psychological narrative that takes us through the world of international media and politics from the 1990s to the present.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slow waltz of turtles / Katherine Pancol ; translated by William Rodarmor.
“Fortysomething mother of two Josephine Cortes is at a crossroads. She has just moved to a posh new apartment in Paris after the success of the historical novel she ghostwrote for her sister, Iris. Still struggling with her divorce, the result of her husband running off to Kenya to start a crocodile farm with his mistress, she is now entangled too in a messy lie orchestrated by her sister. And just when things seem they can’t get any more complicated, people start turning up dead in her neighborhood.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoshi Moshi / Banana Yoshimoto ; translated by Asa Yoneda.
“Yoshie’s much-loved musician father has died in a suicide pact with an unknown woman. It is only when Yoshie and her mother move to Shimo-kitazawa, a traditional Tokyo neighborhood of narrow streets, quirky shops, and friendly residents that they can finally start to put their painful past behind them. However, despite their attempts to move forward, Yoshie is haunted by nightmares in which her father is looking for the phone he left behind on the day he died, or on which she is trying, unsuccessfully to call him. Is her dead father trying to communicate a message to her through these dreams?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for December, this month featuring New Zealand fiction

There are many great reads in this selection for our ‘Other Genre’ category that features New Zealand fiction. Included is the long awaited forth novel by Catherine Chidgey titled, The Wish Child. New novels also from Deborah Challinor and Emma Neale, and highly recommended is the debut novel Strip by Sue Wootton.

Syndetics book coverThe cloud leopard’s daughter / Deborah Challinor.
“On the gold fields of the colonies, enemies are easily made. In the confines of a ship, they can turn deadly. When Kitty and Rian Farrell sail their schooner Katipo III into Dunedin Harbour in 1863, they are on tenterhooks. The new Otago goldfields have attracted all-comers, including their friend Wong Fu from Ballarat, who has sent a message for their help. To their surprise, Wong Fu reveals he is more than a mere fortune seeker, he is in fact a Cloud Leopard tong master and his daughter, Bao, has been kidnapped and taken to opium-ridden China. Kitty and Rian agree to retrieve the missing Bao, but as they sail closer to their quarry the stakes jump dramatically. And little do they know that the deadliest threat lies in their midst.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wish child / Catherine Chidgey.
“It’s 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who cuts prohibited words such as love and mercy out of books. Erich is an only child living a rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions. Drawn together as Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Sieglinde and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRuby and the blue sky / a novel by Katherine Dewar.
“Grammy night, 2021. Ruby wins ‘Best Song’ and makes an impulsive acceptance speech that excites nature lovers across the world. While Ruby and her band celebrate, an extreme evangelical sect, funded by covert paymasters, dispatches a disciple on a ruthless mission to England. As the band plays its sold-out tour, Ruby is pursued by eco-groupies insisting she use her new fame to fight climate change. In a storm and drought-plagued world, run by cynical old men and self-serving corporations, could one young woman lead change?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe pretty delicious café / Danielle Hawkins.
“On the outskirts of a quiet hamlet on the New Zealand coast, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored ‘villa’ cafe. The busy season, they know, is just around the corner. There are plenty of other things distracting them too. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother; Lia’s older half-brother, who lives hours away on the family farm, looks like he might be disinherited by their curmudgeonly father; and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over. And there’s all the delicious cooking. Then, when a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, it seems a healthy new interest could develop. But the past won’t let them be, and when Lia’s ex becomes dangerous, she must decide whether events rule her life or she does.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCan’t help falling / Kara Isaac.Can’t Help Falling: A Novel
“Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter facade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England, home to C.S. Lewis, to try and make amends for the damage she has caused. Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers, until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream. When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Fixing Mrs Philpott / Rachel McAlpine.
“Zoe Philpott packs up her yellow caravan and drives away from post-earthquake Christchurch and a husband in denial. Her very identity is under threat. That yellow caravan acts like a magnet for other women with secret struggles and satisfactions. While Zoe pulls herself together, and her marriage too she is on the receiving end of amazing advice and outrageous revelations. From crisis and chaos Zoe gains new friends and an explosion of confidence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDaylight second / Kelly Ana Morey.
“In a new novel about the Australian race horse Phar Lap, award -winning writer, Kelly Ana Morey recreates the short life of the gigantic chestnut gelding who became the darling of the Australian race tracks during the Depression years. From Timaru in New Zealand where he was born, to Australia where he rewrote track and race records and finally Mexico where he would run his last race, Daylight Second chronicles the death threats and attempts on Phar Lap’s life that were made before the running of two of the three Melbourne Cups he contested, his many triumphs including winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932, and finally his death in America in mysterious circumstances.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrip / Sue Wootton.
“Their dreams of parenthood dashed, Harvey and Isobel go for dream jobs instead. Harvey hangs up his stethoscope to become a cartoonist and Isobel takes a promotion at the local museum. Then an abandoned baby comes up for adoption, and Harvey and Isobel discover a family is more work than they bargained for. By Fleur’s eighth birthday it’s all come together nicely, but that’s before a voice from the past threatens to nuke their hard-won happiness. Harvey doesn’t stop to think. He acts, and with tragic consequences” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe student body / written by former police detective Simon Wyatt.
“A popular fifteen-year-old girl is strangled to death at a school camp on Auckland’s west coast. The posing of the body suggests a sexual motive. Nick Knight, a week into his role as a newly promoted detective sergeant, is tasked with the critical job of leading the Suspects Team. Nick, who turned his back on a lucrative career as a lawyer, is well-versed at dealing with the dark sides of human nature. With no shortage of suspects, he sets a cracking pace on the trail of the murderer, grappling his own personal demons along the way. But are things really as they seem?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for November, featuring translated novels

In featuring translated novels in this month’s selection of new ‘Other Genres’ we highlight the best from international writers from many countries. There are novels translated from the French, Italian, Dutch, Estonian, Chinese, Spanish and Swedish. Highly recommended is the third novel in the Neapolitan novels by the elusive writer Elena Ferrante, titled Those who leave and those who stay.

Syndetics book coverMen / Marie Darrieussecq ; translated from the French by Penny Hueston.
“It’s love at first sight for French actress Solange when she lays eyes on enigmatic Cameroonian actor Kouhouesso at a party in the Hollywood Hills. Solange takes him to bed but wants more than a tryst, much more. But Kouhouesso remains elusive, focusing his energies on his passion project: directing a new version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Solange angles for the role of the Intended, Kurtz’s fiancée, who appears in only one scene. Kouhouesso considers several better-known actresses before finally settling on Solange. And so lovesick Solange follows Kouhouesso to his native Cameroon, hoping the film shoot will allow her to peel back his protective layers and truly bring them closer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThose who leave and those who stay / Elena Ferrante ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
“Beginning in the late 1960s and early ’70s, the fiery Lila stays in Naples, having escaped an abusive marriage, and lives platonically with a man from the neighborhood, along with her young, possibly illegitimate son. The feisty Elena leaves town, graduates from a university in Pisa, publishes a successful book, marries an upper-class professor, and moves to Florence, where she gives birth to two daughters. Against the backdrop of student revolution and right-wing reaction, the two women’s tumultuous friendship seesaws up and down as each tries to outdo the other.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenalty area / Alain Gillot ; translated from the French by Howard Curtis.
“Growing up, Vincent Barteau dreamed of being a professional soccer player. But that dream was crushed by a career-ending injury. Now Vincent keeps alive his connection to the sport by coaching a youth team in Sedan, France. One day, his circumscribed existence is shattered by the arrival of his estranged sister, Madeleine, a single mother who asks him to care for her 13-year-old son, Leonard. Vincent has had no experience caring for a teenager. But it turns out that the boy has a real talent as a soccer goalie and makes Vincent’s team suddenly viable. Thanks to the boy, Vincent begins to come out of his shell. Then, Madeleine reappears and says that she wants Leonard back.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 years old / Hendrik Groen ; translated by Hester Velmans.
“Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums? Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs, not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in, the woman Hendrik has always longed for, he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe man who spoke Snakish / Andrus Kivirähk ; translated by Christopher Moseley.
“Unfortunately people and tribes degenerate. They lose their teeth, forget their language, until finally they are bending meekly on the fields and cutting straw with a scythe. Leemut, a young boy growing up in the forest, is content living with his hunter-gatherer family. But when incomprehensible outsiders arrive aboard ships and settle nearby, with an intriguing new religion, the forest begins to empty, people are move to the village, breaking their backs tilling fields to make bread. Leemut and the last forest-dwelling humans refuse to adapt: with bare-bottomed primates and their love of ancient traditions, they live in shacks, keep wolves, and speak to snakes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe explosion chronicles / Yan Lianke ; translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas.
“With the Yi River on one side and the Balou Mountains on the other, the village of Explosion was founded more than a millennium ago by refugees fleeing a seismic volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era the name takes on a new significance as the community grows explosively from a small village to a vast metropolis. Behind this rapid expansion are members of the community’s three major families, including the four Kong brothers. Linked together by a complex web of loyalty, betrayal, desire, and ambition, these figures are the driving force behind their hometown’s transformation into an urban superpower.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover33 revolutions / Canek Sánchez Guevara ; translated from the Spanish by Howard Curtis.
“The hero of this mordant portrayal of life in contemporary Cuba is a black Cuban whose parents were enthusiastic supporters of the Castro Revolution. His father, however, having fallen foul of the regime, is accused of embezzlement and dies of a stroke. Following her husband’s death, his mother flees the country and settles in Madrid. Our hero separates from his wife and now spends much of his time in the company of his Russian neighbor, from whom he discovers the pleasures of reading. The books he reads gradually open his eyes to the incongruity between party slogans and the gray oppressive reality that surrounds him This is a candid and moving story about the disappointments of a generation that believed in the ideals of the Castro Revolution.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDivorce is in the air / Gonzalo Torné ; translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
“There’s a lot about Joan-Marc that his estranged second wife doesn’t know, but which he now sets out to tell her. He begins with the failure of his first marriage to an American woman named Helen; describing a vacation they took in a last-ditch attempt to salvage their once-passionate romance. The recollection of this ill-fated trip triggers in him a series of flashbacks through which he narrates his life story, hopscotching between Barcelona and Madrid. Starting from pivotal moments in his childhood, his earliest sexual encounters, his father’s suicide, his mother’s emotional decline, he moves through the years to the origin of his relationship with Helen and the circumstances surrounding its deterioration.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReputations / Juan Gabriel Vásquez ; translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean.
“Javier Mallarino, renowned political cartoonist, has reached the apex of his career. He’s feted at a ceremony with speeches and a commemorative stamp while his estranged wife (whom he loves) watches from the audience. But a film tribute shown during the program triggers something in the memory of another woman in the audience, unraveling several lives as the past is revisited. Mallarino is forced to reexamine, through the eyes of this woman, the very basis of his reputation, an accusation of sexual misconduct he implied in a caricature that destroyed the career of a politician and eventually led to his death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe brother / Joakim Zander ; translated from the Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel.
“Growing up poor, Yasmine vowed she would always protect her little brother from harm. She broke her promise on the day she left home, abandoning Fadi to his life in the Stockholm slums. Now, five years later, Yasmine still carries the guilt of leaving him behind. She hears a rumor that he is dead, killed by a US drone in Syria. What happened to turn her sweet-natured brother into one of the CIA’s most wanted men? The answer will shock her.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for October, this month featuring suspense & thrillers

The new titles selected for this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category are all indexed as suspense/thriller fiction. There is plenty of variation in location, time and character in these gripping stories as the plots include political corruption, kidnapping, organized crime, missing children, conspiracies, and intelligence organisations.

Syndetics book coverThe smoke hunter / Jacquelyn Benson.
“Frustrated suffragette and would-be archaeologist Ellie Mallory stumbles across a map to a city that shouldn’t exist, a jungle metropolis alive and flourishing centuries after the Mayan civilization mysteriously collapsed. Discovering it would make her career, but Ellie isn’t the only one after the prize. A disgraced professor and his ruthless handler are hot on her heels, willing to go any extreme to acquire the map for themselves. To race them through the uncharted jungle, Ellie needs a guide. The only one with the expertise is maverick surveyor Adam Bates. But with his determination to nose his way into Ellie’s many secrets, Bates is a dangerous partner. As Ellie gets closer to her goal; she realizes it’s not just her ambitions at stake. A powerful secret lies hidden in the heart of the city and if it falls into the wrong hands, it could shake the very fate of the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHome / Harlan Coben.
“A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: what can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood as gone / Amy Gentry.
“Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic, but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts. She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When sheis contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe second life of Nick Mason / Steve Hamilton.
“Nick Mason has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when an offer comes that will grant his release twenty years early. He accepts, but the deal comes with a terrible price. Now, back on the streets, Nick Mason has returned to society, but he’s still a prisoner. Whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, Nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given. It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double-life term who runs an empire from his prison cell. Forced to commit increasingly more dangerous crimes, hunted by the relentless detective who put him behind bars, and desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wife, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything his family, his sanity, and even his life to finally break free.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRazor girl / Carl Hiaasen.
“Andrew Yancy is still doing penance as a health inspector on roach patrol for an earlier assault with a car vacuum. But when the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren goes missing, Yancy sees a chance to win back his real cop job at the sheriff’s office. Merry Mansfield, the Razor Girl, runs car-crash scams but has the proverbial heart of gold, which lands her bejewelled flip-flops in a diabolically complicated story that includes, goofball characters, sand-restoration, and an ill-fated, mongoose-owning stinky copycat psycho. Also, an environmentally invasive infestation of Gambian pouched rats, electric cars, and cruise lines, along with Sharpie pens that create a male enhancement that perhaps only this author could dream up. Or maybe it is one of the true lurid Florida tales he claims to have incorporated into the story?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOut of bounds.
“When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girl before / Rena Olsen.
“Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing. In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBreaking cover / Stella Rimington.
“Liz Carlyle, still reeling from the aftershocks of a botched anti-terrorist operation in Paris, has been posted to MI5’s counter-espionage desk, where her bosses hope the relative calm might give her the chance to find her feet again. But they hadn’t counted on the fallout from Russia’s incursions into the Crimea and President Putin’s determination to silence those who would oppose him, wherever they may be living in the world. So it is not long before Liz finds herself on the hunt for a Russian spy on British soil, a spy whose intentions are unknown, and whose presence is a threat not only to Russian dissidents living in England but also to the security of the nation itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMethodical illusion / Rebekah Roth.
“The glamorous life of an international flight attendant can be anything but, as Vera Hanson discovered the morning one of her crew members was found murdered in a Paris hotel room. That morning began to put into focus some of the experiences of Vera’s thirty year airline career, which she had purposely been avoiding. It caused her to look more deeply into the questions surrounding 9/11 that never made sense to a flight attendant, but that no one had seriously investigated. With the help of her pilot friend Jim Bowman, they embark on a cross country journey employing their wisdom, experience and intense research to uncover the mysteries of what really happened to the four airplanes and the people on them that fateful day.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInfamy : a novel / Robert K. Tanenbaum.
“When a former Army veteran suddenly murders a colonel in New York, he claims that he had to do it because he was being used in mind control experiments. Is it a case of post-traumatic stress from his tours in Afghanistan or something more? New York District Attorney Roger “Butch” Karp prepares a murder case against the veteran, and meets with investigative reporter Ariadne Stupenagel, who suspects that one of her sources for a story on high-level government corruption was a victim in the shooting. They discover a monumental betrayal of the nation’s security and integrity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genre’ picks, featuring debut novels

This month we feature debut novelists in our ‘Other Genre’ category of selected new additions to the collection. As these are first novels, we are sure there will be many that will excite many readers, with their writing skill and inventive narratives, perhaps earning many followers eager for future novels. Highly recommended is The Nix by Nathan Hill.

Syndetics book coverCooking for Picasso : a novel / Camille Aubray.
“Juan-les-Pins, the French Riviera, 1936: Ondine is a sixteen-year old girl working at her family’s cafe when she is called upon to cook for Picasso, who has secretly rented a nearby villa. Picasso is successful, powerful, and virile, yet he is also a man beset by his own demons, and he’s at a great crossroads in his personal and professional life. The spirited Ondine is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites, and she quickly blossoms in many ways from her encounter with Picasso – each inspires the other. New York, 2016: Celine, Ondine’s American granddaughter, decides to embark on a journey to the French Riviera in a quixotic quest to do what her fragile mother Julie is no longer able to do, that is, to find out what really happened when her grandmother Ondine crossed paths with the great Picasso and possibly recover a lost family treasure.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe whale : a love story / Mark Beauregard.
“In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming to an end, his last three novels have been commercial failures and the critics have turned against him. In despair, Melville takes his family for a vacation to his cousin’s farm in the Berkshires, where he meets Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic and his life turns upside down.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEveryone is watching / Megan Bradbury.
“This is a novel about the men and women who have defined New York. Through the lives and perspectives of four significant men from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, creators, artists and thinkers; and through other iconic works of art that capture its essence, New York itself solidifies. Complex, rich, sordid, tantalizing, it is constantly changing and evolving. Their stories have built New York, and this is the story of that city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dollhouse : a novel / Fiona Davis.The Dollhouse
“When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere comes the sun : a novel / Nicole Dennis-Benn.
“At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman, fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves, must confront long-hidden scars.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverChronicle of a last summer : a novel of Egypt / Yasmine El Rashidi.
“Cairo, 1984, a blisteringly hot summer and a young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to a mother’s phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window, watching the three state-sanctioned TV stations with the volume off, daydreaming about other lives. Underlying this claustrophobic routine is mystery and loss. Relatives mutter darkly about the newly-appointed President Mubarak. Everyone talks with melancholy about the past. People disappear overnight. Her own father has left too, why, or to where, no one will say.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe nix / Nathan Hill.
“In Norwegian folklore, a nix is a spirit, sometimes appearing as a white horse, that steals children away. It’s 2011, and college professor Samuel Andresen-Anderson has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. She abandoned the family when he was a boy; now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news and inflames a politically divided country. To save her Samuel will uncover long buried secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway. As he does so Samuel will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe vanishing futurist / Charlotte Hobson.
“When twenty-two-year-old Gerty Freely travels to Russia to work as a governess in early 1914, she has no idea of the vast political upheavals ahead, nor how completely her fate will be shaped by them. Yet as her intimacy with the charismatic inventor, Nikita Slavkin, deepens, she’s inspired by his belief in a future free of bourgeois clutter, alight with creativity and sleek as a machine. In 1917, revolution sweeps away the Moscow Gerty knew. The middle classes, and their governesses, are fleeing the country, but she stays, throwing herself into an experiment in communal living led by Slavkin” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe paper house / Anna Spargo-Ryan.
“Heather and Dave have found the perfect place to raise their first child. The house has character, but it’s the garden that really makes it: red-faced impatiens, pockmarked gums, six upright pittosporums to keep the neighbors out. It’s a jungle, a hiding place, a refuge, and then, without warning, that life is over. Heartbreaking, fearless, and ablaze with a coruscating beauty all its own, The Paper House tells the story of a woman sinking into the depths of grief, and the desperate efforts of her loved ones to bring her up for air.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lost girls / Heather Young.
“In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanished from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. The loss devastated the family. Sixty-four years later, Emily’s sister Lucy writes the story of that harrowing summer in a notebook that she bequeaths, along with the lake house and a hefty investment portfolio, to her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to give her own daughters a stable home she never had, but the dilapidated house is cold in the winter, the lake silent and forbidding, and her only neighbors are two strange old men who seem to know more than they’re telling about the summer of 1935.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for August, this month featuring New Zealand fiction

New Zealand fiction features in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category, with some great reading selected. Included are several historical, urban suspense, and modern relationship novels. Highly recommend is Laurence Fearnley’s tenth novel titled, The quiet spectacular.

Syndetics book coverThe agency / Ian Austin.
“Dan Calder is an ex Brit and ex policeman looking for a fresh start in a new country but still carrying the baggage of failed relationships and a depressed, repressed past. He chose New Zealand because it was as far as he could get from his old life but did not take into account the universal six degrees of separation is no more than two or three in the land of the long white cloud. The Agency provides a service like no other and New Zealand is the ideal location to find a new client. When Calder first encounters it by sheer chance, his life instantly changes and before long others are depending on him too. Engaged in a deadly game with an unknown foe; this was not the new life Dan Calder planned for himself but now at stake is the ultimate reward; his own salvation.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe salted air / Thom Conroy.
“What happens when grief draws you to your partner’s married brother? 28 year-old Djuna is without a foothold. The suicide of her partner has left her derailed and casting about for the joy she fears may be gone for good. Her parents’ relationship has disintegrated, her family home is occupied by Burmese refugees, and she is drawn to the one man she must reject. In pursuit of a roving father and a renewed sense of belonging, Djuna wanders from Wellington to the natural beauty of New Zealand’s remote East Cape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Scarlet & Magenta / Lindsey Dawson.
“In the 1880s, misbehaving wives were asking for trouble. Building a raw Bay of Plenty town was hard enough without free-thinking females upsetting local society. Violet comes to Tauranga from London with a scandalous past and an aching heart. She befriends a kindred spirit, Anna, and catches the eye of footloose Rupert, rival and rowing mate of Anna’s husband. In pioneer towns, it doesn’t do to speak your mind or seek unseemly delights. Angry words are soon flying in banks and bedrooms, with reputations and marriages at risk. There are secrets to keep and lost loved ones to find.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe quiet spectacular / Laurence Fearnley.
“Loretta is a school librarian, who embarks on compiling The Dangerous Book for Menopausal Women while waiting to collect her son from after-school activities. Chance is a teenager, who discovers an unusual creative outlet to offset the strain of her controlling mother. Riva is the founder of a wetlands sanctuary, who is seeking a way to fulfil her promise to her dying sister to do something ‘absolutely spectacular’. Within a clearing in the woods by a lake there is a den, a secret sanctuary and eventual meeting place for all three women.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA briefcase, two pies and a penthouse : a novel / by Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“In 1981, a top spy misplaced a briefcase in the Aro Valley. All it contained were his business cards, a diary of scurrilous gossip, three mince pies, two fruit pies, the NZ Listener, and a Penthouse magazine. Unfortunately for him, the briefcase was discovered by the son of a prominent political journalist. This satirical novel looks at modern day spies in New Zealand, the new existential threat of Islamic terrorism and at a very New Zealand response to a global issue.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Death on D’Urville : a Claire Hardcastle mystery / by Penelope Haines.
“Claire Hardcastle is fiery, clever, daring and she’s trying to prove herself in a man’s world. When her routine flight to pick a passenger up from a remote island in the Marlborough Sounds turns into a murder investigation she is excited to discover she may hold a clue to the crime. Why would anyone want to murder an inoffensive, reclusive novelist? Her interest in solving the murder is heightened by her growing attraction to Detective Sergeant Jack Body. As Claire and Jack’s professional and personal partnership deepens they have to accept that, for others, obsession can turn sour, and become a malignant strain that leads to murder. The key to solving Jorge’s death depends on unravelling a tangle of motives as diverse as rifled grave goods, artefact smuggling, disputed Maori history, breached tapu, and child abuse.” (Adapted from Syndetis summary)

Syndetics book coverAll day at the movies / Fiona Kidman.
“Life isn’t always like it appears in the movies. In 1952, Irene Sandle takes her young daughter to Motueka. Irene was widowed during the war and is seeking a new start and employment in the tobacco fields. There, she finds the reality of her life far removed from the glamour of the screen. Can there be romance and happy endings, or will circumstances repeat through the generations? Each subsequent episode in this poignant work follows family secrets and the dynamics of Irene’s children. The story doesn’t just track their lives, but also New Zealand itself as its attitudes and opportunities change and reverberate through the decades.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMysterious mysteries of the Aro Valley / Danyl McLauchlan. “A returning hero to a desolate valley, a missing mathematician, a glamorous and beguiling council bureaucrat with a hidden past. A cryptic map leading to an impossible labyrinth, an ancient conspiracy, an ancient evil and a housing development without proper planning permission. All these things leading to the most mysterious mystery of all.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe case of the missing body / Jenny Powell.
“The Case of the Missing Body is the true and unusual story of Lily, who has no sense of her body. She has struggled with the effects of this her whole life. Desperate to try anything to ‘be normal’, a nevertheless skeptical Lily agrees to begin work with her physiotherapist in a gymnasium. One extraordinary day, working in the gym, Lily discovers she has shoulder blades. All her life she has thought people only felt their heads, with thoughts trailing along in and behind them. Now she has shoulder blades. There is nothing easy about what is to follow. Neither Patrick (the physiotherapist) nor Lily could have predicted it. But with help from professionals, the writer of this beautiful, moving memoir becomes her own detective, searching for clues to help her find her own body.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNapoleon’s willow / Joan Norlev Taylor.
“In 1837, on remote St Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, Frenchman François Lelièvre searches for the legendary willow tree beside Napoleon’s grave. A tree in which he believes Napoleon’s spirit is still alive, inspiring the noble ideals of the French Revolution, liberty, equality and brotherhood. With cuttings from Napoleon’s willow in his care, François journeys to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsular in New Zealand aboard a whaling ship, and plants these in this new land during a time of conflict, as the French and British compete to be the first to colonize this newly-discovered part of the country. Around the same time, Marianne a young schoolteacher from England sets out on a turbulent path via the new British colonies of Sydney in New South Wales and Russell in the Bay of Islands, that leads her to the same place, looking for her own sense of liberty. They both encounter and befriend a well-travelled and respected Maori man from Banks Peninsular, Manako-uri, who is facing his own difficulties and challenges as the newcomers plant their hopes and dreams in his ancestral land.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)


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