Hope, Cults and Lyrical Dystopias: New General Fiction!

New to our libraries in March: a scintillating selection of new fiction titles! While the Central Library has become a no-go zone, our recently acquired fiction material is still available through branches, and in some cases online as eBooks with Overdrive or on your Libby App. We’re getting great new material to you any way we can!

This month we have titles from the much anticipated Tom Barbash and a debut Gothic novel from Sophie Draper which you can read in print or electronically and listen to as a downloadable audiobook. Poet Natasha Carthew, a writer dedicated to creating in the outdoors, has created a lyrical dystopian tale of human resilience and hope.

Our selection also features tales to set the pulse racing with the latest international thrillers. Writing duo Hendricks and Pekkanen’s An Anonymous Girl is available electronically or in print, while Fog Island, the first in a new trilogy from Swedish writer Mariette Lindstein, draws the reader into the world of an isolated cult under the thrall of a charismatic leader.

Reserves are now free! So select what you like and collect from any open branch. Go wild!

All rivers run free / Carthew, Natasha
“A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life. On the flooded coast of Cornwall, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a childless marriage, as rough and stubborn as the sea. When a strange young girl washes up on the beach, Ia’s rescue is only the beginning of a dangerous journey, one that will take them downriver, into the fringes of a collapsing society and for Ia, towards something she hopes might be love. A vision of the near-future and an odyssey of motherhood, All Rivers Run Free is a true original from a powerful new voice.” (Catalogue)

Damnation / Beck, Peter
“Dead clients are bad for business, something Tom Winter, head of security for a discrete Swiss private bank, knows all too well. After a helicopter explodes, leaving behind the charred bodies of a client and a colleague, he teams up with Fatima, a mysterious Egyptian businesswoman. Together they follow the money trail around the world and back into the Swiss mountains, the NSA watching their every move. When taciturn Winter, a former special forces commander, closes in on the truth, they turn from being the hunters to the hunted and realize they are in a deadly, high-stakes race against the clock.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Cuckoo, Sophie Draper (ebook) (print) (eAudio)
“There’s a stranger in your house… When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again. But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do. As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?” (Overdrive description)

Islands / Frew, Peggy (print) (eBook)
“Helen and John’s relationship is collapsing and they don’t notice their daughters suffering. Junie is growing up brittle and defensive while Anna is difficult and rebellious. When Anna fails to return home one night, her mother isn’t too worried as it has happened before and she has always returned. Helen waits three days before she reports Anna’s disapperance” (Catalogue)

 

Overdrive cover The Dakota Winters, Tom Barbash (eBook) (print)
“It’s the fall of 1979 when 23-year-old Anton Winter, back from the Peace Corps and on the mend from a nasty bout of malaria, returns to his childhood home in the Dakota Building in New York City. Anton’s father, the famous late-night host Buddy Winter is there to greet him, himself recovering from a breakdown. Before long Anton is swept up in an effort to reignite Buddy’s stalled career, a mission that takes him from the gritty streets of New York, to the slopes of the Lake Placid Olympics, to the Hollywood Hills, to the blue waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and brings him into close quarters with the likes of Johnny Carson, Ted and Joan Kennedy, and a seagoing John Lennon.”  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover An Anonymous Girl, Greer Hendricks (ebook) (print)
“When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.” (Overdrive description)

Cemetery Road : a novel / Iles, Greg
“Sometimes the price of justice is a good man’s soul.When Marshall McEwan left his Mississippi hometown at eighteen, he vowed never to return. The trauma that drove him away spurred him to become one of the most successful journalists in Washington, DC. But as the ascendancy of a chaotic administration lifts him from print fame to television stardom, Marshall discovers that his father is terminally ill, and he must return home to face the unfinished business of his past. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth, he would give almost anything not to have to face it.” (Catalogue)

A version of the truth / Walter, B. P. (print) (eBook) (eAudio)
“Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be. A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?” (Catalogue)

Celebrate Wellington Pride – Queer Fiction 2019

New Zealand Queer fiction lost a significant voice with the death of Peter Wells in February 2019. Both in film and writing Wells explored, exposed and celebrated the variety of queer experience from a New Zealand perspective. To celebrate the upcoming two weeks of Pride celebrations in Wellington you can find a swathe of queer fiction at the Central Library.

Our queer fiction selection features classics through to new material across time and place by LGBTQI+ authors, and works including characters with a queer viewpoint. Explore lives, orientations, identities and experiences outside the binary. 

In addition to library print material there is an online lending collection through OverDrive LGBTIQ+ Reads for a great range of reading and listening material.

Willa & Hesper / Feltman, Amy
“Willa’s darkness enters Hesper’s light late one night in Brooklyn. Theirs is a whirlwind romance until Willa starts to know Hesper too well, to crawl into her hidden spaces, and Hesper shuts her out. Told from alternating perspectives, and ending in the shadow of Trump’s presidency, Willa & Hesper is a deeply moving, cerebral, and timely debut” (adapted from Catalogue)

Call me by your name / Aciman, André
“Andre Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.” (Catalogue)

The Beatrix gates : PM Press outspoken authors / Pollack, Rachel
“A queer cult favorite, The Beatrix Gates is a colorful mix of science fiction, magic realism, memoir, and myth exploring themes of spirituality and transformation. Courage and cowardice contend in a literary odyssey unlike any other.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Annabel / Winter, Kathleen
“Kathleen Winter’s stunning debut novel, a #1 national bestseller, is a beautifully sensitive story of family, identity, and the yearning to belong. A child born in 1968 in Labrador, Canada, seems to be both boy and girl-a secret kept by the midwife and the parents, who opt to raise him as Wayne. Eventually, Wayne must acknowledge his second self, a girl he privately calls Annabel.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Boy overboard / Wells, Peter
“An achingly insightful coming-of-age novel about discovering sexuality and selfhood. Jamie is eleven, on the threshold of discovery. But he can’t find the map that will explain where he fits in or who he is. His parents are away and he is staying with family friends. The sea is rising towards high tide, and he is a boy overboard.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The price of salt / Highsmith, Patricia
“Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a homemaker in the midst of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to choose between her child and her lover. Erotic, eloquent, and suspenseful, this story offers an honest look at the necessity of being true to one’s nature.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Disobedience / Alderman, Naomi
“In suburban north-west London the Orthodox Jewish community of Hendon quietly conducts its daily life. When a beloved rabbi dies, his passing brings his wayward daughter home. For the past ten years Ronit has been living the life of a modern New York woman; returning home, she’s looking forward to catching up with old friends, perhaps settling old scores. But it soon becomes clear that Hendon and Ronit don’t fit.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Our young man : a novel / White, Edmund
Our Young Man follows the life of a gorgeous Frenchman, Guy, as he goes from the industrial city of Clermont-Ferrand to the top of the modeling profession in New York City’s fashion world, becoming the darling of Fire Island’s gay community. Surveying the full spectrum of gay amorous life through the disco era and into the age of AIDS, Edmund White (who worked at Vogue for ten years) explores the power of physical beauty to fascinate, to enslave, and to deceive with sparkling wit and pathos.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The house of impossible beauties / Cassara, Joseph
The House of Impossible Beauties follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene and the Christopher Street Piers as they flee their traumatic pasts and band together to form the city ‘s first all-Latino House. Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness and fierce yearning. The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family and the resilience of the human spirit.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Bingo love / Franklin, Tee
“When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.” (Amazon.com)

My brother’s husband. Volume 1 / Tagame, Gengoroh
“Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it. (Please note: This book is a traditional work of manga, and reads back to front and right to left.)” (Catalogue)

Wandering son. Volume one / Shimura, Takako
“Shuichi and his friend Yoshino have a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. A sensitive masterpiece from Japan’s most prominent creator of LGBT manga. Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.” (Catalogue)

 

Fresh February Fiction a go-go

The library fiction shelves show fleeting glimpses of new material before it’s whisked away by our literature loving patrons. Luckily, we have a list of some of the great new fiction titles for you to peruse at your leisure. These bring you the lives of people informed by authors exploring the cultures of Mexico, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria and Aotearoa New Zealand. Debut author Joshua Pomare has been drawing acclaim for Call me Evie, his work of suspense is set in the small coastal community of Maketu. Delving into our fallible memories this book takes the reader through layers of reality and plot twists that leave you guessing until the very end.

Syndetics book coverCall me Evie / J.P. Pomare.
“Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here. Jim says he’s keeping her safe. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories? An incredible literary thriller for readers of bestsellers such as Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and Girl on the Train from an exciting new Australian voice.” (Syndetics summary)

Not bad people / Scott, Brandy
“It’s New Year’s Eve. Three thirty-something women – Aimee, Melinda and Lou – best friends for decades, let off sky lanterns filled with resolutions: for meaning, for freedom, for money. As the glowing paper bags float away, there’s a bright flare in the distance. It could be a sign of luck – or the start of a complete nightmare. The day after their ceremony, the newspapers report a small plane crash – two victims pulled from the wreckage, one a young boy. Were they responsible? Aimee thinks they are, Melinda won’t accept it, and Lou has problems of her own. It’s a toxic recipe for guilt trips, shame, obsession, blackmail and power games. They’re not bad people. But desperate times call for desperate measures.” (Catalogue)

Music love drugs war / Quigley, Gerladine
“The end of the school year is approaching, and siblings Paddy and Liz McLaughlin, Christy Meehan, Kevin Thompson and their friends will soon have to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. But it’s hard to focus when there’s the allure of their favourite hangout place, the dingy ‘Cave’, where they go to drink and flirt and smoke. Most days, Christy, Paddy and Kevin lie around listening to Dexys and Joy Division. But this is Derry in 1981, and they can’t ignore the turmoil of the outside world. A friend is killed, and Christy and Paddy, stunned out of their stupor, take matters into their own hands. Some choices are irreversible, and choosing to fight will take hold of their lives in ways they never imagined.” (Catalogue)

Golden child: a novel / Adam, Claire
“Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their twin sons Paul and Peter, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters–leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.” (Catalogue)

Hark: a novel / Lipsyte, Sam
“In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and, perhaps most immediately, just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”… is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status. It’s a role he never asked for, and one he is woefully underprepared to take on. Hark is a smart, incisive look at men, women, and children seeking meaning and dignity in a chaotic, ridiculous, and often dangerous world.” (Catalogue)

My sister, the serial killer: a novel / Braithwaite, Oyinkan
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favourite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works is the bright spot in her life. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.” (Catalogue)

Among the lost / Monge, Emiliano
“A devastating and surreal novel about the defining issue of the 21st century: illegal immigration. In this grim inferno, a fierce love blossomed – one that was born in pain and cruelty and one that will live or die on this day. Estela and Epitafio too were trafficked, they grew together in the brutal orphanage, fell in love, but were ripped apart. They have played an ugly role in the very system that abused them and done the bidding of the brutal old priest for too long. They have traded in migrants, put children to work as slaves, hacked off limbs and lives without a thought, though they have never forgotten the memory of their own shackles. Like the immigrants whose hopes they extinguish, they long to be free; free to be together and alone.” (Catalogue)

Night train: new and selected stories / Jones, Thom
“A posthumous and definitive collection of new and selected stories by short-fiction icon and National Book Award finalist Thom Jones, with a stunning introduction by Amy Bloom Thom Jones’s stories are high-octane, prose-drunk entertainment. His characters are grifters and drifters, rogues and ne’er-do-wells – some lovable, some not – but each with a voice that never fails to grab you by the collar. They include Vietnam soldiers, amateur boxers, psych ward veterans and an unforgettable adolescent DJ radio host, among others. Perfectly capturing the essence of this icon of the American short story, Night Train showcases the sheer breadth and power of his inimitable stories.” (Catalogue)

The killer collective / Eisler, Barry
“When a joint FBI-Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry–a hit that had been offered to John Rain. Suspecting that the FBI themselves were behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc team to identify and neutralize the threat. With uncertain loyalties, conflicting agendas, and smouldering romantic entanglements, this group is hardly a team. But in a match as uneven as this one, a collective of killers might be just what they need.” (Catalogue)

A change of key / Jansen, Adrienne
“Marko has come to the ends of the earth to escape a once illustrious past in Bulgaria. So why does a Polish bookstore owner call him a traitor? And who covertly photographed him for the newspaper? Someone knows who he is. They are trying to expose him in his new country, and there is nothing he can do to prevent it. A Change of Key tells the story of a multicultural group of migrants living in an inner-city block of social housing flats in New Zealand. It explores themes of social change and the hardships associated with existing in isolation from one’s family and culture. As they struggle through the realities of living in deprivation, Marko and the other migrants find salvation in friendship, community and classical music.” (Catalogue)

The lost girls of Paris / Jenoff, Pam
“1946, Manhattan Grace Healy is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs, each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station. Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.” (Catalogue)

 

Focus on Maori writers for Waitangi day

Kōrero paki Aotearoa, New Zealand fiction has a flavour like no other. The place and the people have a unique creative influence.

Jacquie (J C Sturm) at the Wellington Central Library

We have a selection of Māori novelists based around Wellington, Apirana Taylor, Tina Makereti, Hinemoana Baker and Patricia Grace. Including the remarkable J C Sturm, who began writing in 1940’s, working for many years at Wellington Public Library where we knew her as Jacquie Baxter. The house of the talking cat, her collection of short stories was crafted in the 1960’s finding a publisher in the 1980’s to much success and acclaim.

 

These writers have turned their hand to myth and contemporary fiction, bringing characters to life in situations from history to current times, using personal relationships, family interactions and events that have swept through people’s lives leaving marked changes on potential futures and a mysterious past to be unveiled. Our selection also includes the piercing writing of Alice Tawhai (pen name) and Paula Morris’s excellently drawn characters.

Short story compilations are a great way of discovering new authors. Huia Short stories : Contemporary Māori fiction showcases a variety of winners from the Pikihuia awards. This recent collection features a diverse range of voices including Genesis Te Kuru White, Olivia Aroha Giles and Iraia Bailey, writing in English and te reo.  Explore the journey to becoming a writer with Te Papa Tupu where Te Waka Taki Kōrero / The Māori Literature Trust support emerging writers.

There is more to discover on our New Zealand Fiction page, just scroll down to Māori writer/Māori life.

Syndetics book coverHuia short stories 12 : contemporary Māori fiction.
“Here are the best short stories and novel extracts from the Pikihuia Awards for Maori writers 2017 as judged by Whiti Hereaka, Paula Morris, Poia Rewi and Rawinia Higgins. The book contains the stories from the finalists for Best Short Story written in English, Best Short Story written in te reo Maori and Best Novel Extract categories. This writing competition, held every two years, is organised by the Maori Literature Trust and Huia Publishers as a way to promote Maori writers and their work. The awards and the collection of finalists fiction celebrate Maori writing and bring new writers to light.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack marks on the white page / edited by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti.
“Here are the glorious, painful, sharp and funny 21st century stories of Maori and Pasifika writers from all over the world. Vibrant, provocative and aesthetically exciting, these stories expand our sense of what is possible in Indigenous Oceanic writing. Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti present the very best new and uncollected stories and novel excerpts, creating a talanoa, a conversation, where the stories do the talking. Join us as we deconstruct old theoretical maps and allow these fresh Black Marks on the White Page to expand our perception of the Pacific world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Tina Makereti.
“While exhibited as a curiosity, a Maori boy turns his gaze on Victorian London. ‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’ So begins the tale of James Poneke- orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises. Although London is everything James most desires, this new world is more dark and dazzling than he could have imagined.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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

 

Syndetics book coverChappy / Patricia Grace
“Uprooted from his privileged European life and sent to New Zealand to sort himself out, twenty-one-year-old Daniel pieces together the history of his Maori family. As his relatives revisit their past, Daniel learns of a remarkable love story between his Maori grandmother Oriwia and his Japanese grandfather Chappy. The more Daniel hears about his deceased grandfather, the more intriguing – and elusive – Chappy becomes.
In this touching portrayal of family life, acclaimed writer Patricia Grace explores racial intolerance, cross-cultural conflicts and the universal desire to belong. Spanning several decades and several continents and set against the backdrop of a changing New Zealand, Chappy is a compelling story of enduring love.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLuminous / Alice Tawhai.
“Tawhai’s tales combine characters and occurrences that are at once cripplingly dark and yet also tinged with a quiet beauty and optimism and she deftly covers subjects such as identity, addiction, devotion and abandonment.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

Syndetics book coverFalse river : stories, essays, secret histories / Paula Morris.
“Riffing on truth, lies and secrets, this collection uses fiction to explore fact, and fact to explore fiction. These pieces range the world – from America, to Antwerp to Aotearoa – and talk about writers and writing, famous figures, family members, witch-burning in Denmark, cyclones and numerous pertinent and stimulating topics. All brilliantly written, each will leave you thinking and desperate to jump back in for more.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Readers’ Choice: People love reading…

Have you ever loved a book so much that you want to stop and tell everyone how wonderful it is? Well now’s your chance!
The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. Book lovers like you!

These selected books are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that other people can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

This month borrowers have loved a range of material from the latest unexpected plot twists in mystery writing to retellings of classic novels.  This eclectic selection reviews the breadth of the fiction collection with science fiction short stories and well researched historical fiction.

Syndetics book coverThe inheritance and other stories / Megan Lindholm, Robin Hobb.
The Inheritance & Other Stories is a marvelous new collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling master storyteller Robin Hobb–including tales written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm, by which the acclaimed fantasist first began her illustrious writing career. A unique compendium of wonders displaying the breathtaking skill, imagination, and remarkably varied styles of both alter egos.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “I really enjoyed all the stories. I have read Robin Hobb books before and this was a great introduction to her other identity” 

Syndetics book coverTombland / C.J. Sansom.Tombland
“Spring, 1549. Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the prolonged war with Scotland is proving a failure. The economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring.”  (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “This book sets a new bar for historical fiction, with it’s meticulous research, and interweaving of a fictional character and story with the peasant rebellion led by Robert Kett in 1549. It’s the seventh novel in the author’s best selling Shardlake series but can be read as a one off novel… It was very refreshing to read a book on a little known period of English history, with such fantastic description of the period based on thorough research.” 

Syndetics book coverUnequal affections : a Pride & Prejudice retelling / Lara S. Ormiston ; foreword by Devleena Ghosh, PhD.
“When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed. Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice at the proposal in the Hunsford parsonage, this story explores the kind of man Darcy is, even before his “proper humbling,” and how such a man, so full of pride, so much in love, might have behaved had Elizabeth chosen to accept his original proposal.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “A beautiful retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A must read for any P+P fan. Utterly un-put-downable! Enjoyed so much.” 

Syndetics book coverThe backstreets of purgatory / Helen Taylor.
“Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients. Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself.
Art, truth and madness come to blows in this darkly funny debut novel from a startling new talent.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was very hard to get into to start with but well written making the story blurry between present and the psychotic world” 

Syndetics book coverHeadlong / Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
“Bill Slider and his team investigate the death of a prominent literary agent in this intriguing contemporary mystery. An embittered ex-wife. A discarded mistress. A frustrated would-be author. A disgruntled former employee. Many had reason to hold a grudge against the late lamented literary agent. But who would feel strongly enough to kill him?” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “Latest in the Detective Slider series. A good read for character development and cops out of work stories. Mystery is OK and well told but not new” 

Syndetics book cover

Charlesgate confidential / by Scott Von Doviak.
“A group of criminals in 1946 pull off the heist of the century, stealing a dozen priceless works of art from a Boston museum. But while the thieves get caught, the art is never found. Forty years later, the last surviving thief gets out of jail and goes hunting for the loot, involving some innocent college students in his dangerous plan.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “Reasonably satisfactory story about reverberations of an art robbery over the decades that follow. Readable and it held me.”

Myths and Legends inspiring contemporary fiction writers

Circe book cover

Amongst our recent fiction titles are a range of books inspired by myths and legends from Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Myths and legends magnetically draw authors; these ideas reemerge in writing as the tales that form culture, ideas of who we are, and define social boundaries which prove to be an excellent landscape for characters. This selection has a great range of styles and settings, encompassing action, family drama and psychological fiction, set in the modern day and ancient times.

Syndetics book coverEverything under / Daisy Johnson.
“Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though almost a lifetime ago and those memories have faded. Now she works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe mere wife / Maria Dahvana Headley.
“Herot Hall is a fortress guarded by an intense network of gates, surveillance cameras, and motion-activated lights. Dylan and Gren live on opposite sides of the perimeter, neither boy aware of the barriers erected to keep them apart. Gren lives with his mother, Dana, just outside the limits of Herot Hall. A former soldier, Dana didn’t want Gren, didn’t plan Gren, and doesn’t know how she got Gren. But now that she has him, she’s determined to protect him from a world that sees him only as a monster. When Gren crosses the border into Herot Hall and runs off with Dylan, he sets up a collision between Dana’s and Willa’s worlds that echoes the Beowulf story – and gives sharp, startling currency to the ancient epic poem.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverApple and knife / Intan Paramaditha ; translated by Stephen J Epstein.
“Intan Paramaditha’s long-awaited English debut, announcing herself to the West as a startling and provocative new voice. Inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales, Apple and Knife is an unsettling ride that swerves to the supernatural, exploring the danger and power of occupying a female body. These short fictions, set in the Indonesian everyday–in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages–reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface. This is subversive feminist horror at its best, where men and women alike are arbiters of fear, and where revenge is sometimes sweetest when delivered from the grave.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOlympus bound / Jordanna Max Brodsky.
“Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.
Summer in New York: a golden hour on the city streets, but a dark time for Selene. She’s lost her home and the man she loves. A cult hungry for ancient power has kidnapped her father and targeted her friends. To save them, Selene must face the past she’s been running from – a past that stretches back millennia, to when the faithful called her Huntress. Moon Goddess. Artemis. With the pantheon at her side, Selene must journey back to the seat of her immortal power: from the streets of Rome and the temples of Athens — to the heights of Mount Olympus itself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCirce : a novel / Madeline Miller.
“Circe is not powerful like her father Helios, nor viciously alluring like her mother Perse. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power– the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many figures in mythology. When Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, she ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians.”

Syndetics book coverFor the immortal / Emily Hauser.
“Thousands of years ago, in an ancient world where the gods control all and heroes fight to have their names remembered down the ages, two extraordinary women become entangled in one of the greatest heroic tales of all time . . . and must face how much they are willing to risk for immortality. Desperate to save her dying brother, Admete persuades her father, the king of Tiryns, to let her join Hercules on one of his legendary twelve labours. Travelling to the renowned female warrior Amazons in search of a cure, Admete soon discovers that both Hercules and the fearsome Amazons are not as they first seemed.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe testament of Loki / Joanne M. Harris.
“Ragnarok was the End of Worlds. Asgard fell, centuries ago, and the old gods have been defeated. Some are dead, while others have been consigned to eternal torment in the netherworld – among them, the legendary trickster, Loki. A god who betrayed every side and still lost everything, who has lain forgotten as time passed and the world of humans moved on to new beliefs, new idol and new deities . . . But now mankind dreams of the Norse Gods once again, the river Dream is but a stone’s throw from their dark prison, and Loki is the first to escape into a new reality.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAwayland : stories / Ramona Ausubel.
“An inventive story collection that spans the globe as it explores love, childhood, and parenthood with an electric mix of humor and emotion. And though some of the stories are steeped in mythology, they remain grounded in universal experiences: loss of identity, leaving home, parenthood, joy, and longing.
Crisscrossing the pages of Awayland are travelers and expats, shadows and ghosts. A girl watches as her homesick mother slowly dissolves into literal mist. The mayor of a small Midwestern town offers a strange prize, for stranger reasons, to the parents of any baby born on Lenin’s birthday. And a lonely heart searches for love online, never mind that he’s a Cyclops.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeneath the mother tree / D.M. Cameron.
“Beneath the Mother Tree is a spine-chilling mystery and contemporary love story, played out in a unique and wild Australian setting interwoven with Indigenous history and Irish mythology. This spiritual subtext becomes a stage for unforgettable characters who navigate vital questions of identity and belonging. The result is a compelling portrait of how our dark history and dreaming landscape can make extraordinary things of ordinary lives.” (Syndetics summary)

Recent acquisitions: a feast of fiction

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke.

Our fiction showcase of recently acquired novels is rich and diverse full of new beginnings in so many ways. Here’s to the New Year, enjoy and Sláinte!

Syndetics book coverSlow days, fast company : the world, the flesh, and L.A. / Eve Babitz ; introduction by Matthew Specktor.
“There was a time when no one burned hotter than Eve Babitz. Possessing skin that radiated “its own kind of moral laws,” spectacular teeth, and a figure that was the stuff of legend, she seduced seemingly everyone who was anyone in  1960s and ’70s Los Angeles. But there was one man who proved elusive, and so Babitz did what she did best, she wrote him a book. In ten sun-baked, Santa Ana wind-swept sketches, Babitz re-creates a Los Angeles of movie stars; socialites on drug binges, evading their East Coast banking husbands; soap-opera actors worried that tomorrow’s script will kill them off; Italian femme fatales even more fatal than she is.  In the end it doesn’t matter if Babitz ever gets the guy, she seduces us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMilkman / Anna Burns.
“In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unreliable man / Jostein Gaarder ; translated from the Norwegian by Nichola Smalley.
“Jakop is a lonely man. Divorced from his wife, with no friends apart from his constant companion Pelle, he spends his life attending the funerals of people he doesn’t know, obscuring his identity in a web of improbable lies. As his addiction spirals out of control, he is forced to reconcile his love of language and stories with the ever more urgent need for human connection. An Unreliable Man is a moving and thought-provoking novel about loneliness and truth, about seeking a place in the world, and about how storytelling gives our lives meaning.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe splendor before the dark : a novel of the Emperor Nero / Margaret George.
“Ascending to the throne was only the beginning… With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire. But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero’s complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace–and the politicians…Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little snake / A.L. Kennedy.
“This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend. The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and war creeps in. He sees Mary and her family leave their home, he sees her grow up and he sees her fall in love. But Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, when his destiny will break them apart, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will lose them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe moon sister : Tiggy’s story / Lucinda Riley.
“Tiggy Aplièse is offered a job on the vast and isolated Kinnaird estate as a wildlife consultant by the elusive and troubled Laird, Charlie Kinnaird. She meets Chilly, an ancient gipsy, who has lived for years on the estate, having fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense, passed down from her gipsy ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home… As Tiggy follows the trail back to her exotic but complex Spanish past, and – under the watchful eye of a gifted gypsy bruja – begins to accept and develop her own gift, she too must decide to whether to return to Kinnaird, and Charlie…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTony’s wife : a novel / Adriana Trigiani.
“Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption. Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBridge of Clay / Markus Zusak.
“Let me tell you about our brother. The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay. Everything happened to him. We were all of us changed through him. The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world. It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive. A miracle and nothing less.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Fresh words from far off places

Tropic of Violence book cover

Translated books can telescope the reader through to different cultures and eras; the English language seems so prolific, but it’s only one way the creative word is crafted. Many authors’ works don’t reach the English language audience until many years after publication.

Japanese award-winning author Mariko O’Hara is one such author — her Haiburiddo Chairudo was lauded in Japan back in 1991, with the Seiun Award for the best Japanese speculative fiction of the year. Finally translated in 2018 for the English reading audience, Hybrid child (link and review below) pivots on ideas of monstrosity and innocence, and is the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.

Slovenian author Jasmin Felih is another author whose book is just reaching an English language audience, albeit with a shorter publication gap — her book In/Half (below) was first published in 2013 and explores the way people connect and rely on using current communication systems, looking at three fragmented lives after ‘the Great Cut’.

Who we really bring into a relationship, and how the tensions of love and duty play out are the subject of Berta Isla, by Javier Marais, translated from Spanish (linked below).

In a totally different vein, Eva Meijer — a Dutch author, musician and philosopher — explores how, for some, human interaction is not a main driver. Her novel Bird Cottage is based on the figure of Gwendolen “Len” Howard, and is a fictional account of a turning point in her life. An accomplished musician, she pivots from life as a concert violinist to a solitary existence documenting her observations of the common birds that surround her cottage. Her musical background leads her to record their song as musical notation and she devotes herself to describing every aspect of the avian life around her. Perhaps most enigmatically, her two books on the subject — written in solitude — were bestsellers.

We’ve included these and other recently published titles in translation below. In January 2019 we will be further exploring the rich and diverse world of translated fiction in a special fiction showcase — ‘Not lost in translation’. We hope you enjoy this preview!

Hybrid child : a novel / Mariko Ōhara ; translated by Jodie Beck.
“A classic of Japanese speculative fiction that blurs the line between consumption and creation when a cyborg assumes the form and spirit of a murdered child. With the familiar strangeness of a fairy tale, Ohara’s novel traverses the mysterious distance between body and mind, between the mechanics of life and the ghost in the machine, between the infinitesimal and infinity. The child as mother, the mother as monster, the monster as hero: this shape-shifting story of nourishment, nurture, and parturition is a rare feminist work of speculative fiction. Hybrid Child is the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn/Half / Jasmin B. Frelih ; translated from the Slovenian by Jason Blake.
“Twenty-five years into the future, a glitch in the global communications network is ripping a previously united world apart at the seams. The millennials find themselves hardest hit, trapped in a crumbling world they did not want – among them childhood friends Evan, an addict theatre director; Kras, a family patriarch and ex-war-minister; and Zoja, an anarchist poet. As they each prepare to celebrate their fiftieth birthdays, the friends desperately try to recapture the magic of their former lives and hold on to some sort of sense of belonging. With its experimental style and sharp focus on the contradictions of modernity, In/Half is a powerful statement on the perils of the future.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe day I found you / Pedro Chagas Freitas ; Translated form the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
“The restaurant is crowded and noisy. The man sits by the window, watching the grey sky, bored, as he is every Monday morning. Suddenly he turns and she’s there, standing in front of him. Years have passed since he last saw her, since the day he left, without an explanation, without a reason. With his intimate, almost whispered style, Pedro Chagas Freitas takes the reader on a journey to explore the deepest layers of their feelings and to discover the truth about love; the kind of love that touches, grabs and thrills you, that discovers and conceals, that wounds and heals, that seizes you and sets you free.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBerta Isla / Javier Marías ; translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
“For a while, she wasn’t sure that her husband was her husband. Sometimes she thought he was, and sometimes not. Berta and Tomas meet in Madrid and, though both young, they decide to spend their lives together. Eighteen and betrothed, Tomas leaves to study at Oxford. His talent for languages quickly catches the interest of a certain government agency. After university he returns to marry her, knowing he won’t be able to stay for long. Gripping and intricate, Berta Isla is about a relationship built on secrets and lies – and the equal forces of resentment and loyalty at its core.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTropic of Violence / Nathacha Appanah, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan.
“Marie, a nurse on the island of Mayotte, adopts an abandoned baby and names him Moïse, raising him as a French boy. As he grows up, Moïse struggles with his status as an “outsider” and to understand why he was abandoned as a baby. Narrated by five different characters, Tropic of Violence is an exploration of lost youth on the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. Shining a powerful light on problems of violence, immigration, identity, deprivation and isolation on this island that became a French département in 2011, it is a remarkable, unsettling new novel that draws on the author’s own observations from her time on Mayotte.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBird cottage / Eva Meijer ; translated by Antoinette Fawcett.
“Len Howard, the daughter of a famous poet, and a successful concert violinist was forty years old when she decided to devote the rest of her life to her true love: birds. She bought a small cottage in Sussex, where she wrote two international bestsellers, astonishing the world with her observations on the tits, robins, sparrows and other birds that lived in and around her house, and would even perch on her shoulder as she typed. This moving, finely crafted novel tells the story of a remarkable woman’s life and loves, and of how she defied society’s expectations and changed our understanding of bird behaviour. It is also a wonderful evocation of the English countryside and the joy that can come from a living, breathing relationship with the natural world around us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFour soldiers : a novel / Hubert Mingarelli ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“Hubert Mingarelli’s simple, powerful, and moving stories of men in combat have established him as one of the most exciting new voices in international fiction. In Four Soldiers he tells the story of four young soldiers in 1919, members of the Red Army during the Russian civil war. It is set in the harsh dead of winter, just as the soldiers set up camp in a forest in Galicia near the Romanian front line. Due to a lull in fighting, their days are taken up with the mundane tasks of trying to scratch together what food and comforts they can find, all the time while talking, smoking, and waiting. Waiting specifically for spring to come. Waiting for their battalion to move on. Waiting for the inevitable resumption of violence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe second rider / Alex Beer ; translated from the German by Tim Mohr.
“Most of the remaining population of Vienna–a city scarred by World War I in which the grandeur of the Habsburg Empire is a fading memory–is surviving by its wits, living hand to mouth in a city rife with crime, prostitution, and grotesquely wounded beggars. There are shakedowns on every street corner, the black market is the only market, and shortages of vital goods create countless opportunities for unscrupulous operators. Into this cauldron of vice comes Inspector August Emmerich, a veteran himself, whose ambitions lead him to break the rules when necessary and whose abiding wish is to join the Viennese major crimes unit. When a corpse is found in the woods outside the city and immediately labeled a suicide, Emmerich, convinced it was nothing of the sort, sees a chance to prove his mettle. His investigations will reveal an insidious and homicidal urge lurking in the city.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Katharina code / Jørn Lier Horst ; translated by Anne Bruce.
“Set between the icy streets and dark forests of Norway, The Katharina Code is a heart-stopping story of one man’s obsession with his coldest case. Twenty-four years ago Katharina Haugen went missing. All she left behind was her husband Martin and a mysterious string of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper. Every year on October 9th Chief Inspector William Wisting takes out the files to the case he was never able to solve. Stares at the code he was never able to crack. And visits the husband he was never able to help. But now Martin Haugen is missing too.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverE.E.G. / Daša Drndić ; translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth.
“Andreas Ban failed in his suicide attempt. Even as his body falters and his lungs constrict, he taps on the glass of history – an impenetrable case filled with silent figures – and tries to summon those imprisoned within. Mercilessly, fearlessly, he continues to dissect society and his environment, shunning all favours as he goes after the evils and hidden secrets of others. History remembers the names of perpetrators, not of the victims.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s Choice – the reviews are in!

Shadowless Book Cover

From translated writing, science fiction and contemporary fiction, the variety of readers feedback is from across the fiction spectrum. This month it’s the new and classic titles that have the eyes of literary browsers. As with all reading experiences they are unique to the reader.

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

Syndetics book coverShadowless / Hasan Ali Toptaş ; translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely and John Angliss.
“In an Anatolian village forgotten by both God and the government, the muhtar has been elected leader for the sixteenth successive year. When he staggers to bed that night, drunk on raki and his own well-deserved success, the village is prosperous. But when he is woken by his wife the next evening he discovers that Nuri, the barber, has disappeared without a trace in the dead of night, and the community begins to fracture. Blurring the lines of reality to terrific effect, Shadowless is both a compelling mystery and an enduring evocation of displacement from one of the finest, most exciting voices in Turkish literature today.” (Syndetics summary)

“I thought this book would be better as a short story. There were some good observations but as a novel it didn’t hold my attention”⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverJosh and Hazel’s guide to not dating / Christina Lauren.
“Most men can’t handle Hazel. But her best friend Josh isn’t most men. Josh has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?” (Syndetics summary)

“Fun, light, chick-lit novel. Quite funny and enjoyable if you want a light easy romance novel”⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverElefant / Martin Suter ; translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.
“What would you do if you woke up to see a living, breathing, tiny, glowing, pink elephant? If you’re anything like Schoch, who lives on the streets of Zürich and is decidedly down on his luck, you might well think it’s time to put away the bottle before your hallucinations get any stranger, and go back to sleep. But what if the tiny pink elephant is still there when you wake up? And clearly needs someone to take care of it? And what if you discover that it’s been created through genetic engineering, by a group of scientists who just want to use it to get rich and don’t care about the elephant’s welfare? And that they’re in cahoots with a circus and will stop at nothing to get it back? What if this little elephant is about to change your life?” (Syndetics summary)

“Ingenious. The humans involved are some of them rather tedious. But the central figure does develop excellently” ⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverThe winter soldier / Daniel Mason.
“Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War One explodes across Europe. From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and, finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone.” (Syndetics summary)

“This was a superb read from start to finish. Austrian med student in remote E European field hospital in WWI. Doesn’t sound promising? Believe me this will be winning Oscars in the Hollywood version in a few years. Riveting.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverStrangers with the same dream / Alison Pick.
“‘We came into their valley at dawn.’ So begins this taut roller-coaster of a novel. From three vastly different points of view, Alison Pick relates the same vivid and riveting story of one transformative year. That year is 1921, and a band of young Jewish pioneers, many escaping violent homelands, have set out to realize a utopian dream–the founding of a kibbutz–on a patch of land that will later become Israel. Writing with a tightly controlled intensity, Alison Pick takes us inside the very different minds of her three key characters–two young unmarried women, escaping peril in Russia and Europe; and one slightly older man, a group leader who is married with two children–to depict how idealism quickly tumbles into pragmatism, and how the utopian dream is punctured by messy human entanglements.” (Syndetics summary)

“I thought this book was cleverly written about the beginning of something that continues to challenge international relations. A triptych that reminds that there is always multiple versions of history and the truth” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverThe fortress / S.A. Jones.
The Fortress asks questions about consent, power, love and fulfilment, and is absorbing, explicit, confronting and moving. Jonathon Bridge has the corner office, the tailored suits and the impeccable pedigree. He has a fascinating wife, a child on the way and a string of nubile lovers on the side. His world is our world: the same chaos and sprawl, haves and have-nots, men and women, skyscrapers and billboards. But it also exists alongside a vast, self-sustaining city-state called The Fortress where the indigenous inhabitants — the Vaik — continue to live much as they have always done. The Vaik is an all-female civilisation where Johnathon will have to live as a supplicant for a year.” (Syndetics summary)

“I thought I didn’t like fantasy as a genre but it turns out I wasn’t the target audience. It was an immensely satisfying read to the end. Fantasy is usually overly populated with books targeted at white cis men!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverPhone / Will Self.Phone
“Meet Jonathan De’Ath, aka ‘the Butcher’. The curious thing about the Butcher is that everyone who knows him – his washed-up old university lecturer father, his jumbling-bumbling mother, his hippy-dippy brothers, his so-called friends, his spooky colleagues and his multitudinous lovers – they all apply this epithet to him quite independently, each in ignorance of the others. He knows everyone calls him ‘the Butcher’ behind his back, but he also knows that they don’t know the only real secret he maintains, encrypted in the databanks of his steely mind- Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander – is Jonathan De’Ath’s longtime lover.” (Syndetics summary)

“Interesting in parts, but needs a good editor. I enjoyed his earlier works, which had black humour, sadly lacking in this latest trilogy” ⭐⭐(2/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverSo long, and thanks for all the fish : volume four in the trilogy of five / Douglas Adams ; foreword by Neil Gaiman.
“Thirty years of celebrating the comic genius of Douglas Adams… There is a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. It’s not an easy thing to do and Arthur Dent thinks he’s the only human who’s been able to master this nifty little trick – until he meets Fenchurch, the girl of his dreams. Fenchurch knows how the world could be made a good and happy place. Unfortunately she’s forgotten. Convinced that the secret lies within God’s Final Message to His Creation they go in search of it. And – in a dramatic break with tradition – actually find it… Volume four in the trilogy of five” (Syndetics summary)

“I enjoyed it when I first read it in the ’80’s but less so this time. The basic concept of uplifted dolphins seems sillier now. However it is written well and is a classic, so it will appeal to some” ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars)

Our most popular Fiction: Top reads at a mystery branch location

Our fiction collection brings you the talent of local writers and international award winners. Those brave enough to write out their inner workings or extrapolate on the world around them. So whether you enjoy untangling a thriller with unexpected plot twists or delving into the imagination of the world’s best fantasy writer maybe a reader’s favourite out there will be your next favourite too!

Wellington City Libraries is lucky enough to have eleven branches throughout the city. It’s no surprise that each branch has it’s own particular set of reading loves. This month the most popular ten reads is brought to you from a mystery location, maybe it’s the branch you borrow from?

Transcription / Kate Atkinson.
Syndetics book cover“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever. Ten years later, now a 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.” (Syndetics summary)

The furthest station / Ben Aaronovitch.
Syndetics book cover“A brand new novella in the PC Grant series! There’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call. It’s PC Peter Grant’s speciality. Only it’s more than going ‘bump’. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow up interviews rather difficult. Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition. Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.” (Syndetics summary)

Why mummy swears : the struggles of an exasperated mum / Gill Sims.
Syndetics book cover“Welcome to Mummy’s world… The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips… Mummy’s marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she’s also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t have to run out when the nanny calls in sick. Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T? Probably effing not.” (Syndetics summary)

Everything is lies / Helen Callaghan.
Syndetics book cover“Sophia’s parents have lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed. Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find her mother hanging from a tree in the garden. Her father lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death. The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. To clear her mother’s name Sophia needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there…” (Syndetics summary)

Kill the farm boy / Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
Syndetics book cover“Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born… there is a faraway kingdom…the land of Pell. There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death… and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar ‘happily ever after’ that ever once-upon-a-timed.” (Syndetics summary)

Wild fire / Ann Cleeves.
Syndetics book coverWild Fire is the eighth, and final book, in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series Shetland: 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.” (Syndetics summary)

End game / David Baldacci.
Syndetics book cover“Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man. But now, Blue Man is missing. Last seen in rural Colorado, Blue Man had taken a rare vacation to go fly fishing in his hometown when he disappeared off the grid. With no communications since, the team can’t help but fear the worst.” (Syndetics summary)

The after wife / Cass Hunter.
Syndetics book cover“When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.
She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband. Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.
But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death…a gift called iRachel.
The After Wife is an emotional story about love, loss, longing and belonging.” (Syndetics summary)

All for nothing / Walter Kempowski ; translated from the German by Anthea Bell ; introduction by Jenny Erpenbeck.
Syndetics book cover“A wealthy family tries–and fails–to seal themselves off from the chaos of post-World War II life. The von Globig family’s manor house, the Georgenhof, is falling into disrepair. Auntie runs the estate as best she can since Eberhard von Globig, a special officer in the German army, went to war, leaving behind his beautiful but vague wife, Katharina, and her bookish twelve-year-old son, Peter. As the road fills with Germans fleeing the occupied territories, the Georgenhof begins to receive strange visitors–a Nazi violinist, a dissident painter, a Baltic baron, even a Jewish refugee. Yet in the main, life continues as banal, wondrous, and complicit as ever for the family, until their caution, their hedged bets, and their denial are answered by the wholly expected events they haven’t allowed themselves to imagine.” (Syndetics summary)

Sleeping beauties : a novel / Stephen King and Owen King.
Syndetics book cover“In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare.
One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? ” (Syndetics summary)