Astounding tales and amazing stories: the best of this month’s Science Fiction releases

by the pricking of her thumb

Astounding tales and amazing stories from universes near and far beckon in this month’s selection of Science Fiction novels. Titles include a very welcome re-release of Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation as well as Chinese Science Fiction master Cixin Liu’s Ball Lightning, in which he explores the ball lightning phenomenon with a personal (and almost obsessional) passion. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe winter vow / Tim Akers.
“Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage between the north and the south. Three heroes–Malcolm and Ian Blakeley and Gwendolyn Adair–must end the bloodshed before chaos is unleashed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverFoundation / Isaac Asimov.
“The first volume in Issac Asimov’s world-famous saga, winner of the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Novel Series. Long after Earth was forgotten, a peaceful and unified galaxy took shape, an Empire governed from the majestic city-planet of Trantor. The system worked, and grew, for countless generations. Everyone believed it would work forever. Everyone except Hari Seldon. FOUNDATION is the story of the First Foundation, on the remote planet of Terminus, from which those secrets were withheld.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverXeelee : redemption / Stephen Baxter.  
“This is the centre of the Galaxy. And in a history without war with the humans, the Xeelee have had time to built an immense structure here. The Xeelee Belt has a radius ten thousand times Earth’s orbital distance. It is a light year in circumference. If it was set in the solar system it would be out in the Oort Cloud, among the comets – but circling the sun. If it was at rest it would have a surface area equivalent to about thirty billion Earths. But it is not at rest: it rotates at near lightspeed. And because of relativistic effects, distances are compressed for inhabitants of the Belt, and time drastically slowed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChercher La Femme / L. Timmel Duchamp.
“Diplomat Julia, a member of a socialistic human society known as the Pax, is the head of a mission to a far-off world, La Femme. The mission’s primary purpose is recovery of the first ship sent to make contact with La Femme’s inhabitants, though further diplomatic advancement is planned as well. Julia is distracted from the mission objectives by her deep analysis of her life thus far and the utopian ideal she lives by, particularly when she deals with her splintered crew.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverThe fated sky / Mary Robinette Kowal.
The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but could the International Aerospace Coalition ever stand the thought of putting a woman on such a potentially dangerous mission? Could Elma knowingly take the place of other astronauts who have been overlooked because of their race? And could she really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The point / Dixon, John
“Scarlett Winter has always been an outsider, and not only because she’s a hardcore daredevil and born troublemaker–she has been hiding superhuman powers she doesn’t yet understand. Now she’s been recruited by a secret West Point unit for cadets with extraordinary abilities. Scarlett and her fellow students are learning to hone their skills, from telekinetic combat to running recon missions through strangers’ dreamscapes. At The Point, Scarlett discovers that she may be the most powerful cadet of all. With the power to control pure energy, she’s a human nuclear bomb–and she’s not sure she can control her powers much longer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ball lightning / Liu, Cixin
“When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station. The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier in particle physics. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

By the pricking of her thumb : a real-town murder / Roberts, Adam
“Private Investigator Alma is caught up in another impossible murder. One of the world’s four richest people may be dead – but nobody is sure which one. Hired to discover the truth behind the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the ultra-rich, Alma must juggle treating her terminally ill lover with a case which may not have a victim. Inspired by the films of Kubrick, this stand-alone novel returns to the near-future of The Real-Town Murders, and puts Alma on a path to a world she can barely understand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The future is blue / Valente, Catherynne M.
“Collection of thirteen stories full of fable, fairy tale and myth.” From Hugo award winning author Catherynne M Valente. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The Butler in the Library with the Candlestick: Our Selection of this Month’s Best Mystery Novels

Mystery of 3 Quarters book cover

The suspects are hazy, the motives uncertain and the murder weapon is in doubt: none the less, I suspect the butler in the library with the candlestick! This month’s fictional sleuths solve their crime puzzles in a dazzling variety of ways, from the classic stylings of Sophie Hannah’s new Hercule Poirot mystery to the gritty Tartan Noir of Lin Anderson’s Sins of the Dead.

Sins of the dead / Anderson, Lin
“While illegally street racing in the underground tunnels of Glasgow, four Harley Davidson riders make a horrifying discovery. A dead man left in the darkness, hands together on his chest as if peacefully laid to rest. The cause of death unclear, the only clues being a half glass of red wine, and a partially eaten chunk of bread by his side that echo the ancient religious practice of sin-eating. Called to the scene, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is perplexed by the lack of evidence. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The angel in the glass / Clare, Alys
“Physician-sleuth Dr Gabriel Taverner uncovers dark secrets in his small Devon village in the second of this intriguing historical mystery series: June, 1604. When the emaciated body of a vagrant is found on the edge of the moor, it’s the verdict of physician Gabriel Taverner that the man died of natural causes – but is all as it seems? Who was the dead man, and why had he come to the small West Country village of Tavy St Luke’s to die cold, sick and alone? With no one claiming to have known him, his identity remains a mystery.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark queen rising / Doherty, P. C
“The Wars of the Roses are reaching their bitter and bloody climax. Edward of York has claimed the English throne, and his supporters are extracting a savage revenge on all who supported the Lancastrian cause. Surrounded by enemies wherever she turns, the position of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and mother to Henry Tudor, the last remaining hope of the House of Lancaster, is precarious to say the least. When four bodies are discovered in a London tavern, their throats slit, and Margaret herself is suspected of being behind the crime, it’s up to Ulswicke to prove his mistress’s innocence and unmask the real killer.” (Adapted from Catalogue).

Keeper / Gustawsson, Johana
“Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of 10 years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings. Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s mutilated body is found in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes locked up, do the new killings mean he has an accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells are again drawn into an intriguing case with personal links.” (Catalogue)

The mystery of three quarters : the new Hercule Poirot mystery / Hannah, Sophie
“Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him – a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy… Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Walking shadows / Kellerman, Faye
“Who would savagely kill two innocent men? With a little help from his wife Rina, Detective Peter Decker must use all of his skills to put the pieces of this deadly puzzle together… before the murderer strikes again. Detective Decker and his wife risk life and limb to solve a pair of brutal murders that may be tied to a crime from more than twenty years ago in this intense and addictive mystery from New York Times bestselling author Faye Kellerman. .”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder mile / La Plante, Lynda
“Four brutal murders, a city living in fear, a killer on the streets…Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison returns in the 4th book in the bestselling Tennison series, from the doyenne of crime fiction.” (Catalogue)

Leverage in death / Robb, J. D.
“Lieutenant Eve Dallas puzzles over a bizarre suicide bombing in a Manhattan office building in the latest in the #1 New York Times bestselling series… In this next installment of Robb’s mega-best-selling futuristic police procedural, NYPSD lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates when marketing VP Paul Rogan walks into a big Wall Street mergers meeting strapped with explosives and blows the place sky-high. He was forced to act by masked men holding his family hostage, but their goal is murky.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A shot in the dark : a Constable Twitten mystery / Truss, Lynne
“The charming first novel in a new comic crime series, from one of Britain’s most-loved writers, the incomparable Lynne Truss. It is 1957 in Brighton and Inspector Steine is rather enjoying his life as a policeman by the sea. No criminals, no crime, no stress. So it’s really rather annoying when an ambitious – not to mention irritating – new constable shows up to work and starts investigating a series of burglaries. And it’s even more annoying when, after Constable Twitten is dispatched to the theatre for the night, he sits next to a vicious theatre critic who is promptly shot dead part way through the opening night of a new play. It seems Brighton may be in need of a police force after all.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Golden Age of Crime

A Different Kind of Evil cover

In 1930’s Britain an eclectic group of authors banded together to form The Detection Club. Some of the participants included Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, G K Chesterton and A A Milne. The members were all known for their literary excellence and were not shy of mining the darker side of human conduct. They wrote tales of mystery that have enthralled their audience from publication to current times. Their club oath defines what would become the style of the ‘Golden Age of Crime’:

To do and detect all crimes by fair and reasonable means; to conceal no vital clues from the reader; to honour the King’s English… and to observe the oath of secrecy in all matters communicated to me within the brotherhood of the club”

The gentle tropes perfected by the Golden Age writers has been reprised and honoured by modern authors using both style and characters. Referencing Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926, Andrew Wilson presents the ‘Dame of crime’ with mysteries of her own. Private detective Hercule Poirot is revived through the work of Sophie Hannah. Below are some classic titles and some new works that reference the style of the era:

Murder on the Orient Express / Christie, Agatha
“Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.” (Catalogue)

 

The complete Father Brown stories / Chesterton, G. K.
“Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton’s kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths. This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.” (Catalogue)

Party girls die in pearls / Sykes, Plum
“Not rich and not glamorous, Oxford outsider Ursula Flowerbutton wants only to be left to her studies. But when she finds a classmate with her throat slashed, she’s quick to investigate. Determined to unravel the case and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
“In January 1927 Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secret” (Catalogue)

The mystery of three quarters : the new Hercule Poirot mystery / Hannah, Sophie
“The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket-returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London. Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.” (Catalogue)

An act of villainy / Weaver, Ashley
“A gem filled with style, banter, and twists that traditional mystery fans will positively relish. With husband Milo, Amory Ames glides through 1930s London to the dress rehearsal of a new play directed by friend Gerard Holloway. Unfortunately, Gerard has cast his mistress, Flora Bell, in the lead (Amory is friends with his wife), and he wants her to figure out who’s sending threatening letters to Flora. Curtains up for another charmer from Louisiana librarian Weaver.” (Catalogue)

Four funerals and maybe a wedding / Bowen, Rhys
“Star amateur sleuth of the 1930s-set Royal Spyness Mystery series, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is getting ready to walk down the aisle and is offered her godfather’s fully staffed country estate as a home. But the staff don’t seem very trustworthy, and the gas leak in her bedroom doesn’t seem like an accident.” (Catalogue)

 

Fresh Historical Fiction

The Silence of the Girls book cover

Here are some recent titles ranging from first time authors through to accomplished writers. Two authors bring ancient and more recent Chinese history to our library collection. A thin slice of heaven – Tiāntáng bópiàn by Paul Wah recounts a family tale of an emigration to New Zealand followed by a return to a changed homeland. A Hero born by Jin Yong and translated by Anna Holmwood – is the first title of the twelve volume epic Legends of the Condor. Jin Yong is the pen name of Louis Cha Leung-yung, one of the most widely read authors in China, with a plethora of film, TV and game adaptations for his works of the wuxia genre – martial arts chivalry. This epic details the rise of the different forms of martial arts and the sweeping territorial exchanges of 13th century China.

History is written by the victorious, or so the story goes, yet there are so many tales are hidden in the vast mesh of human history. Writers have been teasing these stories from research, family anecdotes and personal interest to bring previous eras vividly to life. Although these are fictional accounts, the reconstruction of historical places and people; personal and national politics help us understand our own times.

Pat Barker, renown for her Regeneration Trilogy has turned her mind to the legend of The Ilyad, Silence of the girls, places the reader in the experiences of the women during the Trojan War. Conn Iggulden also looks to ancient conflict in The Falcon of Sparta. There is also a new edition of Mary Renault’s Funeral Games which transports the reader to the time and place of the death of Alexander the Great, and features all that follows in the wake of the vacuum of a lost leader. Other titles leaf through the pages of history to bring you tales of intrigue from Georgian London, and also trials of new settlement in North America and Australia.

A thin slice of heaven / Wah, Paul
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.” (Catalogue)

A hero born / Jin,Yong
“China: 1200 A.D. The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. On the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army. He is humble, loyal, perhaps not altogether wise, and is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way: privileged, cunning and flawlessly trained in the martial arts.” (Catalogue)

The silence of the girls : a novel / Barker, Pat
“Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.” (Catalogue)

Daughter of a daughter of a queen / Bird, Sarah
“Powerful, epic, and compelling, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen shines light on a nearly forgotten figure in history. Cathy Williams was born and lived a slave – until the Union army comes and destroys the only world she’s known. Separated from her family, she makes the impossible decision – to fight in the army disguised as a man with the Buffalo Soldiers.” (Catalogue)

Funeral games / Renault, Mary
“After Alexander’s death in 323 BC his only direct heirs were two unborn sons and a simpleton half-brother. Wives, distant relatives, and generals all vied for the loyalty of the increasingly undisciplined Macedonian army.” (Catalogue)

The optickal illusion : a very eighteenth-century scandal / Halliburton, Rachel
“It is three years from the dawn of a new century and in London, nothing is certain any more: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with right and left-wing conspiracies, and the French could invade any day. Against this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a strange father and daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian.” (Catalogue)

Salt creek / Treloar, Lucy
“Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch… Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can with the few travellers that pass nearby, among them a young artist, Charles – and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos.” (Catalogue)

The falcon of Sparta / IIggulden, Conn
“In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others. 401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India. As many as fifty million people are his subjects. His rule is absolute. Yet battles can be won – or lost – with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support, without food and without water. Based on one of history’s most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Sparta masterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.” (Catalogue)

Comic book gold! New graphic novels at WCL

The Adventure Zone book cover

Comic book titles hitting the library shelves this month feature award winners, best sellers, classics, antiheroes and more. Classics by Pearl S Buck, Octavia E Butler and Karl Marx have been transformed into visual narratives. Kindred has won awards and recognition in the form an Eisner award, and a Bram Stoker award. Maybe illustrator John Jennings’ colour samplings from bruises and blood had some influence there! This powerful adaptation is worth looking through, and if it’s the first taste you have of Octavia Butler’s work, lucky you! She is a fearless, insightful writer whose work deals with gender, race, age and class. Crime author Denise Mina, a recent Wellington visitor, is the writer for the latest John Constantine, Hellblazer.

The McElroy brothers playing Dungeons & Dragons with their dad is a different type of adaptation altogether. The Adventure Zone is a comic based on the podcast of the same name. Their fantasy characters are complete with ‘loafers of leaping and sprinting’ and proficiencies in wolf training and tea making. The graphic novel instantly became a New York Times trade paperback bestseller on release in August 2018.

Moon Knight [1] : crazy runs in the family / Bemis, Max
“Moon Knight has always been a protector from the shadows, but this new enemy is set to extinguish those shadows with blinding light and fire. Get ready for the introduction of Moon Knight’s greatest nemesis! But as the path of the Sun King brings him ever closer to Moon Knight, Marc has problems of his own: A man known as the Truth is driving people to suicide! Things get worse when Sun King and Bushman hit Marc where it hurts the most, and Jake Lockley’s dark secret is revealed! Will Moon Knight finally be eclipsed?” (Catalogue)

The good earth / Bertozzi, Nick
“Although more than eighty years have passed since Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. This indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings, tells the moving story of honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan. Bertozzi retraces the whole cycle of life depicted in Buck’s original novel: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and its rewards.” (Catalogue)

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation / Duffy, Damian
“This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word. Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Communist Manifesto / Rowson, Martin
“A graphic novel adaptation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s revolutionary pamphlet on the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, published in 1848. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party was at once a powerful critique of capitalism and a radical call to arms. Much of what it proposed continues to be at the heart of political debate into the 21st century. It is no surprise, perhaps, that The Communist Manifesto (as it was later renamed) is the second bestselling book of all time, surpassed only by the Bible.” (Catalogue)

The Adventure Zone : here there be gerblins / McElroy, Clint
“Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided (“guided”) by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it’s based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.” (Catalogue)

John Constantine, Hellblazer. 19, Red right hand / Mina, Denise
Constantine discovers he’s cursed with empathy for his fellow man as the multi-layered tale races forward. Seeking the origin of the Empathy curse, Constantine and Chris roll into Glasgow in search of Steve Evans, a “massively powerful magician” who is waiting for Constantine. Meanwhile John finds out that there has been a connection between himself and Chris before they even met. Written by award-winning crime novelist Denise Mina. Collects issues #216-229.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Made men : getting the gang back together / Tobin, Paul
“When Jutte Shelley and her squad are gunned down in an ambush, it looks like the end for the Detroit police officers, but Jutte comes from a very storied family… named Frankenstein. Using the secrets of her ancestors, Jutte enters the family business of resurrection, bringing her squad back from the dead. Sort of. As long as you don’t look too close. Eager for revenge, they’ve no choice but to team with the Detroit mob, using them for the resources to find the lowlifes who did them in, now that Jutte has quite literally gotten the gang back together.” (Catalogue)

The song of Aglaia / Simon, Anne
French illustrator Anne Simon, known for her biographies of Freud, Marx and Einstein, delves into whimsy and other worldliness. “Aglaia is a simple sea nymph. One day, a Merman seduces Aglaia, forever altering her life’s course. She is cast out of Oceanid by her chauvinistic father, forcing her to wander many days and nights, until one day she finds herself at the benefit of one Mr. Kite, whose traveling circus welcomes her (including the star attraction, a waltzing Horse named Henry) and once again alters her fate, sending her down many more unexpected paths.” (Catalogue)

Advance recommendations for great new fiction titles

Rosewater book cover

There are lots of new titles coming in from talented authors in the next few months. That means getting in quick if you want you be reading them soon!

Our advance recommendations for up and coming titles include crime writing and thrillers; titles where political and social values are explored and Science Fiction and fantasy works were the possibilities of the mind and potential realities are explored.

Excitement has been building for the new Haruki Murakami book titled Killing Commendatore which  is due to published 9 October 2018. The new novel, written in homage to the The Great Gatsby, has already been censored in Hong Kong. Opaque wrappers are required wherever the book is for sale or loan, libraries there will only allow borrowing to patrons over 18 years of age.

Already on our library shelves  is the new Kate Atkinson novel, Transcription, along with Belinda Bauer’s Snap. Yet to be published, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver brings together two timelines  in the same location and  focuses on families facing challenges due to changing cultures. Kingsolver’s deft handling of family dynamics and the impacts of change bring this tale to life. Mohammed Hanif delivers two sides to modern conflict with Red Birds. Three times Hugo winner Science Fiction writer N K Jemisin has a new short story collection called How long ’til black future month? which delivers a kaleidoscopic view of her imagination.  Tade Thompson’s  Rosewater, is named after a town, grown up around an alien entity embedded in Nigerian soil. Once a year the biodome surrounding the incomer opens…

See below, for these and more titles, coming soon to a library near you!

Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

Love is Blind [paperback] / Boyd, William
Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. At once an intimate portrait of one man’s life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the 20th century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain’s best loved storytellers.” (Catalogue)

 

Killing Commendatore / Murakami, Haruki/ Gabriel, Philip (TRN)/ Goossen, Ted (TRN)
“The much-anticipated new novel from the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Killing Commendatore is an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art–as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby–and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.” (Catalogue)

 

Bridge of clay. / Zusak, Markus
Bridge of Clay is about a boy who is caught in the current – of destroying everything he has, to become all he needs to be. He’s a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for memory and tragedy. He builds a bridge to save his family, but also to save himself. It’s an attempt to transcend humanness, to make a single, glorious moment: A miracle and nothing less.” (Catalogue)

 

Red Birds [paperback] / Hanif, Mohammed
“Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.
An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb.  In the camp, teenager Momo’s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind.” (Catalogue)

Unsheltered / Kingsolver, Barbara
“Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred–whether family or friends–and in the strength of the human spirit.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. “Jack’s in charge,” she’d said. “I won’t be long”. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.” (Catalogue)

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, 1) [paperback] / Thompson, Tade
“Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, coming to a realization about a horrifying future.” (Catalogue)

How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories [paperback] / Jemisin, N K
“In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises.” (Catalogue)

Lethal White / Galbraith, Robert
“When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story.  Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside. ” (Catalogue)

In a House of Lies / Rankin, Ian
“A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods.  Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case.  Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.” (Catalogue)

Destination: Antipodes 2020 AD

The antipodes are shaping up to be a fine destination in July,August 2020 if you’re keen or vaguely interested in what the SciFi/Speculative fiction/Fantasy/Graphic Novel/Gaming world has to offer. Aotearoa New Zealand is hosting WorldCon 2020.

Guests of honour at Worldcon 2020 are authors Mercedes Lackey and husband Larry Dixon. New Zealand artist Greg Broadmore and current Australian Science fiction foundation president.

Mercedes Lackey has an impressive backlist of titles where worlds and people have come into being. Collaborative work with the likes of Rosemary Edgehill, Robert  Gellis, James Mallory and Andre Norton, makes up a part of this collection. Her prolific fantasy output spans more than three decades of published work.  Some works feature husband Larry Dixon, author in his own right and artist famed for his work with birdlife. Known for detailing particular aspects of her worlds, like the page dedicated to sail making in the new Valdemar work, The Hills have Spies. The library holds a modest 121 titles of this author alone.  These two have paired up for a few conventions before, leaving their oddly shaped home in Oklahoma and collection of creatures to engage and inspire Con goers.


Local talent, Greg Broadmore has brought the appallingly flawed Dr Grordbort’s universe to life through the medium of Graphic Novels and models, some to look at and some to commit hideous acts with.  The art work both on the page and very ineractive real-life ray guns is also heading into the realm of virtual reality with Magic Leap. These are fantastic concepts coming from a detailed well imagined graphic world, great content for the Con.

Rose Mitchell

Rose Mitchell has been awarded Fan Guest of honour for her stirling services to the science fiction community. Rose, a lifelong science fiction fan has been a stalwart at innumerable conferences and is the current President of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation.

For lots more fascinating facts please connect to CoNZealand.

A glorious celebration!

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage 125th anniversary with Wellington fiction authors

Wellington’s female voice. Those who identify as women in Wellington are well represented in our fiction collection. Why celebrate them separately? The ability to effect change begins with expression but channeling that into results means action through legislation in consideration of those views.  The political arena represents it’s voters and the right to vote for women over 21 began in a colonial corner of the world at the tail end of the 1800’s Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are some great tools to understand the lengths people went to in their efforts to secure the vote. The New Zealand history website has a database of those who signed the suffrage petition, you can fine this down to the street you live in to see who lived on your doorstep and agitated for the right to vote.  So looking at early New Zealand authors, Kathleen M. Beauchamp, Katherine Mansfield’s given name was too young to sign. But, search under the Beauchamp family name and Wellington has a single entry. Remember when Katherine Mansfield’s first published story was rediscovered in Wellington Central library?

Current women Wellington authors have a great range of talents, varieties of styles and audience.  These are tales of personal freedom, integrity, flawed individuals, empathy and self discovery from first time authors, poets, artists and experienced writers. Some are highlighted below:

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

Baby / Jochems, Annaleese
“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’s 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” — Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, dabbled in Alistair Crowley’s druggy occult gatherings and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (Catalogue)

The year of falling / Freegard, Janis
“Janis Freegard’s novel is a beguiling urban tale that moves from the hills of Brooklyn, Wellington, to the streets of Iceland via Takaka. Packed with characters who hold the reader to the page, The Year of Falling has the strut and gleam of a fairy tale while not being afraid of the stuff of flesh and blood that makes people act the way they do. A novel to fall into…but beware, you might find it hard to climb out again.” (Catalogue)

 

The chimes / Smaill, Anna
“After the end of a brutal civil war, London is divided, with slums standing next to a walled city of elites. In this alternate London, the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is considered “blasphemy.” But Simon has a unique gift–the gift of retaining memories–that will lead him to discover a great injustice and take him far beyond the meager life as a member of Lucien’s gang. Before long he will be engaged in an epic struggle for justice, love, and freedom.” (Catalogue)

The shark party / Colson, Janet
“For Carla, February means the pressure of another birthday party for Nathan and his wealthy New York art world friends. She buys him a book about Kurt Schwitters, an artist he is thinking of collecting, but a chance encounter with a man in the bookstore changes everything. Patrick, an environmental filmmaker, challenges her relationship and her artistic ambition. In the wake of their fierce attraction, the unscrupulous world that has seduced Carla begins to unravel and the harder she tries to break free the tighter Nathan’s grip becomes. Art and illusion, possession and freedom are the heady components of Janet Colson’s psychological drama, The Shark Party.” (Catalogue)

The writers’ festival / Johnson, Stephanie
“Wit, compassion and insight combine in this entertaining novel that explores the politics and human comedy behind writers’ festivals and the publishing industry. Writers’ festivals can be hotbeds of literary and romantic intrigue, and the Oceania is up there with the best of them. Rookie director Rae McKay, recently returned from New York, fears she has bitten off more than she can chew. ” (Catalogue)

 

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“A superbly written novel offering an intriguing interpretation of one of the world’s greatest aviators, the glamorous and mysterious Jean Batten. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave. Fiona Kidman’s enthralling novel delves into the life of this enigmatic woman, exploring mysteries and crafting a fascinating exploration of early flying, of mothers and daughters, and of fame and secrecy.” (Catalogue)

A measure of darkness – new Mysteries

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

This month’s selection of new mystery novels features several detectives with very different investigating techniques — from a septuagenarian version of classic hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe (from author Lawrence Osborne), to a another remote Shetland investigation for Ann Cleeve’s much loved detective DI Jimmy Perez. Also included is the internationally critically acclaimed novel Stick together — by Sophie Hénaff —  about corruption at the very highest levels of the Parisian police force and the oddball team of misfits that set out to clean this mess up. All this makes for what we feel is a very satisfying alternative to the more usual police procedural mystery! Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverOnly to sleep : a Philip Marlowe novel / Lawrence Osborne.
“The year is 1988. The place, Baja California. And Philip Marlowe – now in his seventy-second year – is living out his retirement in the terrace bar of the La Fonda hotel. Sipping margaritas, playing cards, his silver-tipped cane at the ready. When in saunter two men dressed like undertakers, with a case that has his name written all over it. For Marlowe, this is his last roll of the dice, his swan song. His mission is to investigate the death of Donald Zinn – supposedly drowned off his yacht, and leaving behind a much younger and now very rich wife. But is Zinn actually alive? Are the pair living off the spoils?” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWild fire / Ann Cleeves.
“Welcoming. Wild. Remote. Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, an English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate, knowing that it will mean the return to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves, who will run the case. Perez is facing the most disturbing investigation of his career. Is he ready for what is to come?” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverStick together / Sophie Hénaff ; translated from the French by Sam Gordon.
“After their successful solving of three cold cases and exposing corruption at the very highest level of the Paris police force, Anne Capestan’s squad of misfits and no-hopers should be in a celebratory mood. However, now despised by their colleagues at 36 quai des Orfèvres and worried for their future, morale has never been lower among the members of the Awkward Squad. Capestan does her best to motivate her troops, but even she cannot maintain a cheerful façade when she has to investigate the murder of Commissaire Serge Rufus, the father of her ex-husband. Worse, it soon appears that his murder is linked to two other victims, both of whom were warned by the killer before they struck…” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBetty Church and the Suffolk vampire / M.R.C. Kasasian.
“Inspector Betty Church — one of the few female officers on the force — has arrived from London to fill a vacancy at Sackwater police station. But Betty isn’t new here — this is the place she grew up.  Time ticks slowly in Sackwater, and crime is of a decidedly lighter shade. Having solved the case of the missing buttons, Betty is called to the train station to investigate a missing bench. But though there’s no bench, there is a body. A smartly dressed man, murdered in broad daylight, with two distinctive puncture wounds in his throat…” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverToucan keep a secret / Donna Andrews.
“Meg Langslow is at Trinity Episcopal locking up after an event and checking on the toucan Meg’s friend Reverend Robyn Smith is fostering in her office. After hearing a hammering in the columbarium, Meg finds an elderly parishioner lying dead on the floor of the crypt. Several niches have been chiseled open; several urns knocked out; and amid the spilled ashes is a gold ring with a huge red stone. Toucan Keep a Secret is the latest book in author Donna Andrews’ hilarious Mag Langslow mystery series.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAunt Dimity and the King’s Ransom / Nancy Atherton.Aunt Dimity and the King’s Ransom
“On a dull and dreary October day, Lori Shepherd and her husband Bill set off for the historic town of Rye, on the southeast coast of England, for a quiet weekend together without the kids. Bill must first pay a visit to a reclusive client–but after Lori drops him off, a powerful storm drives her off course and leaves her stranded in an ancient, rambling inn called The King’s Ransom. When Lori is spooked by ghostly noises in the night, Aunt Dimity reminds her rather tartly that not all ghosts intend to harm the living.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAn unfinished murder / Ann Granger.
“As young children, Josh Browning and his sister, Dilys, stumbled across a dead body while playing on the outskirts of their Cotswold village. Terrified by what they’d seen, neither of them told a soul. Now, twenty years later, Josh finds the dead woman’s charm bracelet among his sister’s possessions. Who better to tell than his trusted friend, the man he gardens for, retired Superintendent Alan Markby? As Markby listens to Josh’s confession, alarm bells start to ring. The dates and details tie in with a missing person case that was never solved.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverA measure of darkness : a novel / Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman.
“Former star basketball player Clay Edison is busy. He’s solved a decades-old crime and redeemed an innocent man, earning himself a suspension in the process. Things are getting serious with his girlfriend. Plus his brother’s fresh out of prison, bringing with him a whole new set of complications. Then the phone rings in the dead of night. A wild party in a gentrifying East Bay neighborhood. A heated argument that spills into the street. Gunshots. Chaos. For Clay and his fellow coroners, it’s the start of a long night and the first of many to come. The victims keep piling up. What begins as a community tragedy soon becomes lurid fodder for social media.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Continue reading “A measure of darkness – new Mysteries”

Tour the far reaches of space – new Science Fiction

From a galaxy far, far away comes our most recent selection of  scintillating  new Science Fiction titles — featuring some of the genre’s most popular writers. Included in this month’s selections are new works by Benedict Jacka and Mercedes Lackey; and highly recommended by us is the reissue of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — which won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novella (and would be a top choice if you are looking for a Star Wars  read to curl up with in the colder weather).  The icing on the cake this month is a very welcome reissue of one of our favourite Science Fiction books by one of our favourite Science fiction writers — the masterwork that is “The Lathe of Heaven”, by Ursula K Le Guin.  Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe lathe of heaven : a novel / Ursula K. Le Guin.The Lathe of Heaven
“In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAdrift / Rob Boffard.
“In the far reaches of space, a tour group embarks on what will be the trip of a lifetime – in more ways than one . . .
For one small group, a tour of the nearby Horsehead Nebula is meant to be a short but stunning highlight in the trip of a lifetime. But when a mysterious ship destroys Sigma Station and everyone on it, suddenly their tourist shuttle is stranded. They have no weapons. No food. No water. No one back home knows they’re alive. And the mysterious ship is hunting them.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverRecord of a spaceborn few / Becky Chambers.
“Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way. But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKill the farm boy / Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson.Kill the Farm Boy: The Tales of Pell
“In an irreverent new series in the tradition of Monty Python, the bestselling authors of the Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars: Phasma reinvent fantasy, fairy tales, and floridly written feast scenes. Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told. This is not that fairy tale. There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosen. And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverArabella the Traitor of Mars
“Hail the conquering heroes! The tyrant, Napoleon, has been defeated with Arabella and the crew of the Diana leading the final charge. But, victory has come at a tremendous cost. Britain’s savior, Lord Nelson, has not survived the final battle and the good people of the Diana must now return to London as both heroes and pallbearers. At last husband and wife, Arabella and Captain Singh seem to have earned the attention of great men, ones who have new uses in mind for the Mars Company captain and his young wife. Both Company and Crown have decided that it is time to bring Mars into the folds of Empire, and they think Singh is the perfect man to do it.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverMarked / Benedict Jacka.Marked
“Alex Verus is tracking down dangerous magical items unleashed into the world by Dark Mages – however, when the Light Council decide they need his help in negotiating with the perpetrators, Alex must use all his cunning and magic to strike a deal. The ninth novel in the urban fantasy series which began with Fated – the Alex Verus novels are magic-filled fan favourites, perfect for readers of Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovitch.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAvalanche / written by Mercedes Lackey with Cody Martin, Dennis Lee & Veronica Giguere ; edited by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon.
“Ultima Thule has been destroyed — but somehow the Thulians mounted an even bigger force to destroy Metis. The Metisians that escaped the carnage and destruction of their secret city now must somehow find somewhere safe to go — without getting snapped up by various world governments. And now the Thulians have changed their tactics to blitz guerilla warfare.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBinti / Nnedi Okorafor.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverCondomnauts
“In the 24th century, Josue Valdes’ rise from the slums Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. Once an orphan who spent his childhood on the street racing cockroaches for cash, Josue found his true-calling: a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony. Following the success of Super Extra Grande and A Planet for Rent, the wildly inventive and sexually progressive Condomnauts is a raucous and uproarious adventure that would make even Barbarella blush.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAlliancesThrawn: Alliances (Star Wars)
“‘I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.’ Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root — its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Who’s reading what? Our most popular Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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