The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

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

Syndetics book coverThe shadow district / Arnaldur Indriðason ; translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
The first of a new series, by this very popular mystery writer. With his skill of twisting plot, great character development and wonderful atmosphere, further books in this series will be longingly awaited.

Syndetics book coverHeloise / Mandy Hager.
An exceptionally well researched historical novel, from a very talented New Zealand writer. Set in early 16th century Paris, this is a story of romance, intrigue, and political change.

Syndetics book coverHow to survive in the North / Luke Healy.
With true life narratives from 1912, 1926 and a fictional story set in the present day, this stunning graphic novel is an unforgettable story of love and loss, and what it takes to survive in the harshest conditions.

Syndetics book coverThe wanderers / Meg Howrey.
A thought provoking science fiction novel about astronauts training for a mission to Mars and the repercussions this has on their inner and outer lives.

Syndetics book coverThe leavers : a novel / Lisa Ko.
An heart rendering, absorbing novel about belonging and rejection.

New Contemporary Fiction for July

With the large number of new fiction received this month, it was difficult to select only ten novels that will tempt readers. We hope that we have catered to most reader’s preferences, but all provide brilliant, exciting, and at times thought provoking reading. Highly recommended is Spoils: a novel by Iraq War veteran Brian Van Reet.

Syndetics book coverDragon teeth : a novel / Michael Crichton.
“The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe summer house party / Caro Fraser.
“In the gloriously hot summer of 1936, a group of people meet at a country house party. Then a shocking death puts an end to their revelry, changing everything in an instant.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEleanor Oliphant is completely fine / Gail Honeyman.
“No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe leavers : a novel / Lisa Ko.
“One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe nothing / Hanif Kureishi.
“Waldo, a feted filmmaker, is confined by old age and ill health to his London apartment. Frail and frustrated, he is cared for by his lovely younger wife, Zee. But when he suspects that Zee is beginning an affair with Eddie, “more than an acquaintance and less than a friend for over thirty years,” Waldo is pressed to action: determined to expose the couple, he sets himself first to prove his suspicions correct and then to enact his revenge.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRich people problems : a novel / Kevin Kwan.
“When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside, but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park, a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore, the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises, as relatives’ claw over heirlooms.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fractured life of Jimmy Dice / Ronan Ryan.
“Jimmy is born a twin, and while he doesn’t know it, his nearest sibling has stayed with him forever, overseeing the drama of his life played out and acting as a narrative voice. When young, Jimmy loses a lower limb to a starving attack dog, the first of many disasters and one that shapes him to become a chancer, a willful man unafraid to stand up to a notorious Dublin gangster but also a young man with heart and belief: a loyal son, a good friend, a courageous brother and a sweet and passionate lover.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKruso / Lutz Seiler ; translated by Tess Lewis.
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. On the island, Ed stumbles upon the Klausner, Hiddensee’s most popular restaurant, and ends up washing dishes there, despite his lack of papers. Ed feels drawn towards the charismatic Kruso, unofficial leader of the seasonal workers. He is on a mission, but to what end, and at what cost? Ed finds himself drawn ever deeper into the island’s rituals, and ever more in need of Kruso’s acceptance and affection. As the wave of history washes over the German Democratic Republic, the friends’ grip on reality loosens and life on the island will never be the same.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe women in the castle / Jessica Shattuck.
“Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpoils : a novel / Brian Van Reet.
“It is April 2003. American forces have taken Baghdad and are now charged with winning hearts and minds. But this vital tipping point is barely recognized for what it is, as a series of miscalculations and blunders fuels the already smoldering insurgency intent of making Iraq the next graveyard of empires. This novel explores the lives on both sides of the battle lines: Cassandra Wigheard, a nineteen-year-old gunner on an American Humvee who is captured during a deadly firefight and awakens in a prison cell; Abu Al-Hool, a lifelong Mujahedeen beset by a simmering crisis of conscience as he struggles against enemies from without and within, including the next wave of far more radicalized jihadists; and Specialist Sleed, a tank crewman who goes along with a “victimless” crime, the consequences of which are more awful than any he could have imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for June

The selection of new contemporary fiction this month includes many much acclaimed, award winning authors. After her brilliant success with the novel The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins returns with another thriller, titled Into the Water. Highly recommended is The Forensic Records Society by the brilliant Magnus Mills.

Syndetics book coverStay with me / Ayò̦bámi Adébáyò̦.
“Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything, arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair. Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, this is the devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNew boy : Othello retold / Tracy Chevalier.
“Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day, so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players, teachers and pupils alike, will never be the same again. The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSunday morning coming down / Nicci French.
“Psychotherapist Dr Frieda Klein once again finds herself in the midst of a criminal investigation when the rotting body of an ex-policeman is found beneath the floorboards of her house. The corpse is only months old but the main suspect, murderer Dean Reeve, died over seven years ago. As the killer picks off his next victims and her home is turned into a crime scene, Frieda’s old life seems like a hazy dream. With eyes of the world upon her and no answers from the police, Frieda realises that she will have to track this killer before he tracks down those she loves.” (Adpated from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInto the water / Paula Hawkins.
“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shadow land : a novel / Elizabeth Kostova.
“A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes. As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhite tears / Hari Kunzru.
“Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America’s great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it’s a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter’s troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe blood miracles / Lisa McInerney.
“Like all twenty-year-olds, Ryan Cusack is trying to get his head around who he is. This is not a good time for his boss to exploit his dual heritage by opening a new black market route from Italy to Ireland. It is certainly not a good time for his adored girlfriend to decide he’s irreparably corrupted. And he really wishes he hadn’t accidentally caught the eye of an ornery grandmother who fancies herself his saviour. There may be a way clear of the chaos in the business proposals of music promoter Colm and in the attention of the charming, impulsive Natalie. But now that his boss’s ambitions have rattled the city, Ryan is about to find out what he’s made of, and it might be that chaos is in his blood.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe forensic records society / Magnus Mills.
“Two men with a passion for vinyl create a society for the appreciation of records. Their aim is simple: to elevate the art of listening by doing so in forensic detail. The society enjoys moderate success in the back room of their local pub, The Half Moon, with other enthusiasts drawn to the initial promise of the weekly gathering. However, as the club gains popularity, its founder’s uncompromising dogma results in a schism within the movement and soon a counter group forms. Then the arrival of a young woman called Alice further fractures the unity of the vulnerable society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn extremis / Tim Parks.
“Thomas knows there is something he needs to say to his mother before she dies. But will he reach her in time? And will he have the courage to say what he couldn’t say before? His phone is buzzing, his mind is racing, and he can’t concentrate on the significance of what is happening. Should he try to solve his friend’s family crisis? Should he reconsider his separation from his wife? Why does he feel so utterly confused and paralyzed? (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeath of a she devil / Fay Weldon.
“Ruth Patchett, the original She Devil, is now eighty-four and keen to retire. But who can take up her mantle? Enter Tyler Patchett, our new kind of heroine and Ruth’s grandson. He’s an ultra-confident, twenty-three-year-old man: beautiful, resentful and unemployed. Tyler won’t be satisfied until he can transition into the ultimate symbol of power and status, a woman. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

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

Syndetics book coverInto the water / Paula Hawkins.
Another brilliant, complex spine chilling thriller, from a very skilled writer.

Syndetics book coverStar sailors / James McNaughton.
An exciting, compelling dystopian novel set in Wellington in a not too distant future.

Syndetics book coverGrizzlyshark / Ryan Ottley, story, art, & letters.
A blood-splattered adventure, fabulous illustrations, but definitely not for the faint hearted.

Syndetics book coverThe stars are fire / Anita Shreve.
Based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history, this is a suspenseful, but heartwarming story, from a much acclaimed best-selling author.

Syndetics book coverBefore the dawn / Jake Woodhouse.
A gripping, but at times darkly humorous, detective mystery with a fast paced twisting plot.

Fiction Newsletter for June

Welcome to the latest Fiction Newsletter. We hope you will find some great reading from these highlighted titles. This month’s ‘Other Genre’ novels category features New Zealand Fiction, new work from some very talented writers.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

There is some wonderful new contemporary fiction in this month’s selection from the recently received new material. With many much acclaimed writers, along with several new novelists, this selection is just a sample of the exciting reading added each month to the Wellington City Libraries fiction collection.

Syndetics book cover Larchfield / Polly Clark.
“It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether. Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected, rightly, of homosexuality.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Birdcage walk / Helen Dunmore.
“It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants. In a tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror, Diner’s passion for Lizzie darkens until she finds herself dangerously alone.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Erotic stories for Punjabi widows / Balli Kaur Jaswal.
“When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals. Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty, these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

The Graphic Novel collection never fails to provide hours of entertainment. With such a variation of new material added each month, there will always be something to satisfy every reader. This month’s selection is a great example of the diversity within this collection. From artist skill to writing brilliance, it is all there.

Syndetics book cover Death of the artist : a graphic novel / by Karrie Fransman and friends.
“On 13 August 2013 graphic novelist Karrie Fransman invited four old friends from university to an isolated cottage on the misty moors of the Peak District to join her for a week of hedonism and creativity. Like Shelley and Byron before them, they would use the retreat to tell stories. Except these would be comics, collected together in this very book. The theme would be The Death of the Artist. None of the five friends realised how appropriate this theme would become.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Arab of the future 2 : a graphic memoir : a childhood in the Middle East (1984-1985) / Riad Sattouf ; translated by Sam Taylor.
“Riad has settled in his father’s hometown of Horms, gets to go to school, where he dedicates himself to becoming a true Syrian in the country of the dictator Hafez Al-Assad. Told simply yet with devastating effect, Riads story takes in the sweep of politics, religion, and poverty, but is steered by acutely observed small moments: the daily sadism of his schoolteacher, the lure of the black market, with its menu of shame and subsistence, and the obsequiousness of his father in the company of those close to the regime. As family strains to fit in, one chilling, barbaric act drives the Sattoufs to make the most dramatic of changes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Disillusioned illusions : a graphic novel / Greg Stump.
“When a pair of washed-up silhouettes abandon the optical illusion business to make a graphic novel, they desperately hope the book will rocket them to fame and fortune. They’ll do just about anything to finish their project, anything, that is, except put forth any kind of effort whatsoever. Instead, they enlist a Juilliard-trained actor named Rodney to bear the burden of the work while they bicker, smoke, and relax in the break room. But their ingenious attempts at evading the hard labors of proper storytelling backfire when the three become entangled in a labyrinthine narrative of deception, adoption, and betrayal. Alliances and identities are forged and discarded with the turn of a page as the trio hurtles towards a thrilling courtroom conclusion that threatens to pull back the curtain on closely-guarded secrets and conspiracies” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

Mystery novels range from the cosy and gentle, to the horrific and shocking, with everything in-between. With our monthly selections of recently received material, we try to give a wide range of variations within this genre, and hope readers will find some great reading.

Syndetics book cover A high mortality of doves / Kate Ellis.
“1919. The Derbyshire village of Wenfield is still reeling from four terrible years of war, and now, just when the village is coming to terms with the loss of so many of its sons, the brutal murder of a young girl shatters its hard-won tranquillity. Myrtle Bligh is found stabbed and left in woodland, her mouth slit to accommodate a dead dove, a bird of peace. During the war Myrtle worked as a volunteer nurse with caring for badly wounded soldiers at the nearby big house, Tarnhey Court. When two more women are found murdered in identical circumstances, Inspector Albert Lincoln is sent up from London. Once in Wenfield, Albert begins to investigate the three recent murders and the Cartwright family of Tarnhey Court and their staff fall under suspicion as their hidden lives and secrets are uncovered.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Blue light Yokohama / Nicolás Obregón.
“Setagaya ward, Tokyo Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo’s homicide department, is assigned a new partner and a secondhand case. Blunt, hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai is a partner Iwata decides it would be unwise to cross. A case that’s complicated, a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city’s famous Rainbow Bridge. Fearing corruption among his fellow officers and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he’s taken off the case or there are more killings.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Snowblind / Ragnar Jónasson ; translated by Quentin Bates.
“Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: is a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik, with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theater, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

Many hours of reading pleasure for lovers of science fiction and fantasy are provided in this month’s new book selection. Follow the link to the full list of sci-fi selections to ensure you do not miss any new books from favourite authors or series.

Syndetics book cover Sins of empire / Brian McClellan.
“A world on the cusp of a new ag, the young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place, a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires. The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Seven surrenders / by Ada Palmer.
“It is a world in which near-instantaneous travel from continent to continent is free to all. In which automation now provides for everybody’s basic needs. In which nobody living can remember an actual war. In which it is illegal for three or more people to gather for the practice of religion, but ecumenical “sensayers” minister in private, one-on-one. In which gendered language is archaic, and to dress as strongly male or female is, if not exactly illegal, deeply taboo. In which nationality is a fading memory, and most people identify instead with their choice of the seven global Hives, distinguished from one another by their different approaches to the big questions of life. It is a world in which, unknown to most, the entire social order is teetering on the edge of collapse, because even in utopia, humans will conspire. Also because something new has arisen: Bridger, the child who can bring inanimate objects to conscious life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Slow bullets / Alastair Reynolds.
“A vast conflict, one that has encompassed hundreds of worlds and solar systems, appears to be finally at an end. A conscripted soldier is beginning to consider her life after the war and the family she has left behind. But for Scur and for humanity, peace is not to be. On the brink of the ceasefire, Scur is captured by a renegade war criminal, and left for dead in the ruins of a bunker. She revives aboard a prisoner transport vessel. Something has gone terribly wrong with the ship. Passengers,ombatants from both sides of the war, are waking up from hibernation far too soon. Their memories, embedded in bullets, are the only links to a world which is no longer recognizable. Scur will be reacquainted with her old enemy, but with much higher stakes than just her own life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

New Zealand writers feature in this month’s selection from the new ‘Other Genres’ category. Included were several very promising debut novelist and of course new titles from some very popular veteran authors. The three titles chosen for this newsletter provide only a small sample from the new material available.

Syndetics book cover The Chinese proverb / Tina Clough.
“Army veteran Hunter Grant thought he had left war behind in Afghanistan, a conflict that left him with physical and psychological scars. But finding an unconscious girl in the Northland bush and gradually untangling her story involves him in a war of a different kind in his own country. Hunter sets out to find and punish the man Dao calls Master, but he soon finds there is more to this story than enslavement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Leap of faith/ Jenny Pattrick.
“Billy is a young, impressionable dreamer. In 1907, he strikes off on his own, keen to prove himself an able worker on the new railroad. It’s being cut through steep mountainsides and across deep gullies to join the two ends of the Main Trunk Line. Also drawn to the remote worker settlements is a preacher, Gabriel Locke, who is running from a shady past and determined to avoid the daily grind. With untimely and suspicious deaths, the horrendous weather, impossible deadlines, the rugged landscape and a blossoming romance, it will take a lot more than a leap of faith for this disparate group to complete the railroad and build the magnificent Makatote viaduct.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Obsession / Elspeth Sandys.
“Two men and woman: the woman obsessed with her husband; the husband obsessed with his island home and the country whose stories he had made it his mission to tell; the man obsessed with the couple whose dynamic both fascinates and repels him. Against a background of two decades of social upheaval, this bitter-sweet tale of tangled relationships moves towards its dramatic unpredictable conclusion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

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

Syndetics book coverThe earth cries out / Bonnie Etherington.
An exciting, brilliantly written debut novel.

Syndetics book coverRolling blackouts : dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq / Sarah Glidden.
The impact of the Iraq War on Middle Eastern inhabitants is told through a two-month journey through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. This is a precise and topical graphic novel from an award winning writer.

Syndetics book coverExit west : a novel / Mohsin Hamid.
An amazing story of love and hope from an internationally acclaimed writer.

Syndetics book coverSnowblind / Ragnar Jónasson ; translated by Quentin Bates.
An extraordinary debut novel, from a new Iceland writer, filled with gripping suspense and terror.

Syndetics book coverThe collapsing empire / John Scalzi.
A bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure from one of Science Fiction’s, best writers.

Fiction Newsletter for May

Welcome to the Fiction Newsletter for May. Here we are almost into the middle of the year, with short days and long colder nights. One of the pleasures of winter is being able to spend long hours reading some great fiction. We hope that you will find much enjoyment from our selection of recently received new material, and that a new author may become a favourite.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

There is a fabulous selection of new contemporary fiction this month, illustrating the diversity of theme, plot, location and protagonist in modern fiction. The three novels chosen for this newsletter truly illustrate this diversification

Syndetics book cover The heart’s invisible furies / John Boyne.
“Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from, and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Harmless like you / Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.
“Set across New York, Berlin, and Connecticut, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront the mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old. The novel opens when Yuki is sixteen and her father is posted back to Japan. Though she and her family have been living as outsiders in New York City, Yuki opts to stay, intoxicated by her friendship with the beautiful aspiring model Odile, the energy of the city, and her desire to become an artist. But when she becomes involved with an older man and the relationship turns destructive, Yuki’s life is unmoored.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Exit west : a novel / Mohsin Hamid.
“In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet, sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors, doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West follows the couple as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

With some amazing art work enhancing the brilliant story lines in the New Graphic novels selection this month, it has been difficult to select titles for this newsletter. Hopefully the three chosen will be not only visually pleasing, but will also provide some great thought provoking reading.

Syndetics book cover Hubert / Ben Gijsemans ; translated from the Dutch by Julia Blackburn and Sandra van Beek.
“Hubert is a solitary man who shapes his life by going to museums. He talks to few people and only about museums and art. When his neighbor downstairs, a lonely woman, tries to seduce him, he doesn’t understand. He takes photos of the pictures he likes, usually of beautiful women, and paints copies of the paintings at home. There is only one real woman who fascinates him; she lives in the opposite building and he can see her balcony from his window.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Lucia / Andy Hixon.
“Lucia is a hard town, full of hard people. It stands looking out across the unforgiving sea that is slowly swallowing it. Its people are all unemployed, with nothing to live for but a pint and fight. Among them are Brick and Morty, one a disabled, heartbroken divorcee and aspiring writer, the other his best friend and protector, a fantasist and aspiring Ultimate Fighting Welterweight Champion of the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Garbage / Mathew Reichertz ; [introduction by Benjamin Woo ; afterword by Robin Metcalfe].
“Garbage is an architectural-scale series of panels that transform a gallery into a comic book. Taken together the paintings tell the story of neighbours in Halifax’s North End and a mysterious couch which shows up one morning on the narrator’s front curb. As the narrator confronts his neighbours, asking where it came from, he gains insight into their lives as well as his own. Garbage collects these paintings into a graphic novel with a commentary by curator Robin Metcalfe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

New mysteries from some very popular writers of this genre have been added to the library fiction collection. We are sure all avid mystery readers will enjoy many of these new titles.

Syndetics book cover The trespasser / Tana French.
“Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point. Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. There’s nothing unusual about Aislinn Murray–except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before, and that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover For time and all eternities / Mette Ivie Harrison.
“Mormon bishop’s wife Linda Wallheim knows a bit about the LDS church’s history of polygamy, but for mainstream Mormons, that epoch ended in the 1890s. However, there are still sects of fundamentalist Mormons who still practice ‘the Principle of plural marriage’, in fact, some of them are living in plain sight here in Utah. Linda’s son Kenneth is marrying a young woman who was raised in a polygamist family, and tragically one of her family members is found murdered.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Who watcheth / Helene Tursten ; translation by Marlaine Delargey.
“A woman is found dead in a cemetery, strangled and covered in plastic. Just a few days before her death, the victim had received a flower, an unintelligible note, and a photograph of herself. Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her colleagues on the Goteborg police force have neither clue nor motive to track in the case, and when similar murders follow, their search for the killer becomes increasingly desperate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

The imagination goes wild, as always in novels in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre. This month’s selection from our recently receive new material is no exception. With subjects ranging from cloning to slave trading, spiders to reincarnation, there always something new and exciting for devotees of this genre.

Syndetics book cover Spaceman of Bohemia / Jaroslav Kalfař.
“Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procha has risen from small-time scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him the chance at heroism he’s dreamt of, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka, whose love, he realizes too late, he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions. Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of bacon, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Will it be enough to see Jakub through a clash with secret Russian rivals and return him safely to Earth for a second chance with Lenka?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Six wakes / Mur Lafferty.
“It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone; her first memory was of how she died. Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover New York 2140 / Kim Stanley Robinson.
“As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city. There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear, along with the lawyers, of course. There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home, and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine. Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

Psychological thrillers are the featured this month in our ‘Other Genres” category. These novels will ensure the reader is gripped in suspense, with at times moments of unease and menace.

Syndetics book cover Rattle / Fiona Cummins.
“A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter. He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum. Now the time has come to add to his collection. Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs for his collection. So begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The black sheep / Sophie McKenzie.
“Francesca was widowed a year ago. Since then she has focused on her children, trying to soothe their grief as well as her own. Her husband and father never quite saw eye to eye but no one could have cared more for her in the past year than her close-knit family. Finally, she feels she might be ready to move on with life. Until she is contacted out of the blue by someone who says he must get information to her. That her husband’s death wasn’t what it seemed and that her family knows more than they say. Who can Francesca trust? What will happen to her if she puts her faith in the wrong person?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Image from Amazon.com Fever dream / Samanta Schweblin ; translated by Megan McDowell.
“A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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New Contemporary Fiction for May

New Contemporary fiction includes, in this month’s selection, the most recent novel from the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moshin Hamid, titled Exit west: a novel, and reconfirms his brilliant writing skill. There are also new novels from Helen Dunmore, and Tim Pears.

Syndetics book coverLarchfield / Polly Clark.
“It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether. Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected, rightly, of homosexuality.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBirdcage walk / Helen Dunmore.
“It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants. In a tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror, Diner’s passion for Lizzie darkens until she finds herself dangerously alone.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExit west : a novel / Mohsin Hamid.
“In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet, sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors, doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. As they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, they struggle to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverErotic stories for Punjabi widows / Balli Kaur Jaswal.
“When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals. Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty, these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe afterlife of stars / Joseph Kertes.
“When Russian tanks roll into the public squares of Budapest to crush the Hungarian Revolution, brothers Robert and Attila Beck flee with their family to the Paris townhouse of their great-aunt Hermina. The year is 1956 and as their country changes forever, these two boys transform as well, confronting danger and wonders previously unknown. As they travel through minefields both real and imagined, Robert and Attila grapple with sibling rivalry, family secrets and incalculable loss. Along the way they encounter mysterious fellow travelers, bewildering sights of a nation in transition and surprising hilarity, all in pursuit of the one place they thought they’d lost forever: home”(Adpated from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA separation / Katie Kitamura.
” A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. For the moment it’s a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she’s not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild landscape, she traces the disintegration of their relationship, and discovers she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLeopard at the door / Jennifer McVeigh.
“Set in Kenya against the fading backdrop of the British Empire. After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion, a strange, intolerant woman,has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point, and looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites. As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe horseman / Tim Pears.
“Somerset, 1911. The forces of war are building across Europe, but this pocket of England, where the rhythms of lives are dictated by the seasons and the land, remains untouched. Leo, a talented rider and son of the underkeeper to the head groundskeeper, grows up alongside the master’s spirited daughter Charlotte.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverThe woolgrower’s companion / Joy Rhoades.
“Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family’s sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales. The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched. But with her father succumbing to wounds he’s borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate’s shoulders. With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower’s Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge. However the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too, especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali. Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTies / Domenico Starnone ; translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri.
“Ties is the story of a marriage. Like many marriages, this one has been subject to strain, to attrition, to the burden of routine. Yet it has survived intact. Or so things appear. The rupture in Vanda and Aldo’s marriage lies years in the past, but if one looks closely enough, the fissures and fault lines are evident. Their marriage is a cracked vase that may shatter at the slightest touch. Or perhaps it has already shattered, and nobody is willing to acknowledge the fact.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

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

Syndetics book coverHubert / Ben Gijsemans ; translated from the Dutch by Julia Blackburn and Sandra van Beek.
Translated from the Dutch, Hubert is a visual treat, a simple story with much pathos.

Syndetics book coverSpaceman of Bohemia / Jaroslav Kalfař.
Amazing debut novel, exciting, humorous and surprising.

Syndetics book coverThe black sheep / Sophie McKenzie.
A fast moving psychological thriller, leading to some shocking twists.

Syndetics book coverLillian Boxfish takes a walk / Kathleen Rooney.
A potted history of New York, the changing roles of women, told in a sharp and very witty manner by the protagonist.

Syndetics book coverWho watcheth / Helene Tursten ; translation by Marlaine Delargey.
A gripping, very suspenseful mystery, a great read.

The Best of the Best: must reads from the latest fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. This time we have a bumper selection of books, chosen from arrivals in recent weeks. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverGeneral theory of oblivion / José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
A novel set in post-colonial Angola, by an award winning Portuguese writer, that will be remembered long after the last page is read.

Syndetics book coverThe march of the foxgloves / Karyn Hay.
A fascinating historical novel, with a plot that is highly entertaining and very amusing.

Syndetics book coverMansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Sarah Laing.
A very clever, very New Zealand story that is quite brilliant.

Syndetics book coverNormal / Warren Ellis.
A gripping intelligent techno-thriller set in the near future.

Syndetics book coverBlack water lilies / Michel Bussi ; translated from the French by Shaun Whiteside.
This French best seller is guaranteed to keep readers hooked until the final pages with their astounding revelations.

Syndetics book coverCarthago / [Christophe Bec, writer ; Eric Henninot, Milan Jovanovic, artists].
Fabulous illustrations, and a gripping multi-layered story.

Syndetics book coverDear Mr. M : a novel / Herman Koch ; translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett.
A literary thriller, that will keep the reader in suspense until the last page.

Syndetics book coverFear / Dirk Kurbjuweit ; translated from the German by Imogen Taylor.
This is a murder story, a psychological thriller, and something more, a gripping and thought-provoking read.

Syndetics book coverCity of strangers : a novel / Louise Millar.
With well-drawn characters and increased suspense to a roaring conclusion that ties the two plot threads together, this is a very satisfying thriller.

Syndetics book coverEmpire games / Charles Stross.
This is a continuation of Stross’s popular Merchant Princes series and is more a high-tech thriller than a fantasy about walking between worlds in a multiverse, this first of three alternate histories. All the brilliance of imagination readers have come to expect with this writer.