“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” – Stephen King – our latest fiction showcase

This month’s fiction showcase shows a broad and diverse range and depth of writing styles and topics. However the darker dystopian trends in our society today and in the recent past seem to be a recurring theme with both The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball and Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s Human Matter which stare deeply into our collective dark heart. Carrying on the dark theme is Stephen King’s acclaimed return with The Institute. Once again King uses a group of children as his main protagonists but this time the horror has its roots in modern American society. We also have international bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s moving account of a woman crafting and creating her own life anew at the dawn of the Second World War, along with new works by Emma Donoghue and Ruth Ware. Enjoy!


The divers’ game : a novel / Ball, Jesse
“The old-fashioned struggle for fairness has finally been abandoned. It was a misguided endeavor. The world is divided into two groups, pats and quads. The pats may kill the quads as they like, and do. The quads have no recourse but to continue with their lives. The Divers’ Game is a thinly veiled description of our society, an extreme case that demonstrates a truth: we must change or our world will collapse.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Night boat to Tangier : a novel / Barry, Kevin
“In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen — Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs — sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter (or is she?), Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A single thread / Chevalier, Tracy
“It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt. Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone. A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity…” (Catalogue)  Also available as an eBook.

Akin : a novel / Donoghue, Emma
“Noah Selvaggio is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child, bringing with him a handful of puzzling photos he’s discovered from his mother’s wartime years. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he’s never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him.  The unlikely duo, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, bicker about everything from steak frites to screen time. Both come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A single source / Hanington, Peter
“Veteran BBC reporter William Carver is in Cairo, bang in the middle of the Arab Spring. ‘The only story in the world’ according to his editor. But it isn’t. There’s another story, more significant and potentially more dangerous, and if no one else is willing to tell it, then Carver will – whatever the consequences. A Single Source tells two stories, which over a few tumultuous months come together to prove inextricably linked.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The institute : a novel / King, Stephen
“In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window.  In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Human matter : a fiction / Rey Rosa, Rodrigo
“More than a decade ago, novelist Rodrigo Rey Rosa made his first visit to the Historical Archive of the Guatemala National Police, where millions of previously hidden records were being cataloged, scanned, and eventually published online. Bringing to light detailed evidence of crimes against humanity, the Archive Recovery Project inspired Rey Rosa to craft a meta-novel that weaves the language of arrest records and surveillance reports with the contemporary journal entries of a novelist (named Rodrigo) who is attempting to synthesize the stories of political activists, indigenous people, and other women and men who became ensnared in a deadly web of state-sponsored terrorism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe turn of the key / Ruth Ware.
“When Rowan stumbles across the advert, it seems like too good an opportunity to miss – a live-in nanny position, with a very generous salary. And when she arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences by a picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder. She knows she’s made mistakes. But she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Bromance : fiction gotcha back bro

via GIPHY

The support and connection that comes from your best mate is a special kind of relationship, one celebrated and explored in a variety of fiction genres. This selection features legendary rugby pairings, bonds formed in the fires of conflict and trust built over years of friendship. These titles have some great pairings, and group dynamics to explore.

Machete and the Ghost is fiction, but these tales are steeped in admiration and complete bafflement as to the exploits of this authentic duo on and off the rugby pitch. At every twist and turn in their careers their friendship saw them through. The unlikely pairing of Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard show that when the chemistry is right two people can just click.  This swamp noir twosome is facing some partnership issues in their latest adventure, The elephant of surpriseThe bromance book club offers support to Gavin Scott’s ailing relationship, the elegant solution of using fiction as way to solve real life conundrums is one we can all empathise with. Enjoy!

Machete and the Ghost / Griffin, James
“Machete and The Ghost is the book that charts the careers of the two greatest All Blacks who never existed. It chronicles their mythical on-field achievements; tells invented stories about the behind-the-scenes goings on of professional rugby; and also makes up their troubles and triumphs off the field, in their tabloid-worthy private lives. This is the book that takes all the tropes you’ve read in every other rugby biography and twists and turns them for shameless comedic benefit. Machete and The Ghost — totally made up, but by people who know and love the game of rugby enough to make all the bullshit sound entirely plausible.” (Catalogue)

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, 1) [paperback] / Adams, Lyssa Kay
“Welcome to the Bromance Book Club. Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.” (Catalogue)

The elephant of surprise / Lansdale, Joe R.
“Hap and Leonard are an unlikely pair–Hap, a self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard–a tough-as-nails Black, gay, Vietnam vet and Republican–but they’re the closest friend either of them has in the world.
On a chase that blows even the East Texas swampgrass back, Hap and Leonard must save the girl, and vanquish her foes, before the foes get them first. With a new case to solve, and a brand-new challenge to their relationship, will Hap and Leonard’s friendship survive? Will Hap and Leonard survive?” (Catalogue)

Hope never dies : a novel / Shaffer, Andrew
Part noir thriller and part bromance novel, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fiction–and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.” (Catalogue)

The grace of kings / Liu, Ken
“A wily, charismatic bandit, and the vengeance-sworn son of a deposed duke cross paths as they each lead their own rebellion against the Emperor’s brutal regime. Their unlikely friendship will drastically change the balance of power in Dara… but at what price? Emperor Mapidere was the first to unite the island kingdoms of Dara under a single banner. But now the emperor is on his deathbed, his people are exhausted by his vast, conscriptive engineering projects and his counsellors conspire only for their own gain. Even the gods themselves are restless.” (Catalogue)

Bodies of men / Featherstone, Nigel
“Egypt, 1941. Only hours after disembarking in Alexandria, William Marsh, an Australian corporal at twenty-one, is face down in the sand, caught in a stoush with the Italian enemy. He is saved by James Kelly, a childhood friend from Sydney and the last person he expected to see. But where William escapes unharmed, not all are so fortunate. When the two are reunited, James is recovering from an accident, hidden away in the home of an unusual family – a family with secrets. Together they will risk it all to find answers. Soon William and James are thrust headlong into territory more dangerous than either could have imagined.” (Catalogue)

Chances are… / Russo, Richard
One beautiful September day, three sixty-seven-year old men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today–Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971. Now, forty-five years later, as this new long weekend unfolds, the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery.” (Catalogue)

Restless souls / Sheehan, Dan
“After three years embedded in the Siege of Sarajevo, war correspondent Tom returns to Dublin a haunted shell of his former self. His childhood friends Karl and Baz know they’re laughably unqualified to help him, but are determined to see him through the darkness. Together, they embark on a journey for an unlikely cure, to an experimental Californian clinic called Restless Souls. But as they try to save Tom from his memories, they must confront their own. And in doing so, they must ask how their raucously funny teenage souls became weighed down – and why life got so damn complicated and sad.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverBreath / Tim Winton.
“When paramedic Bruce Pike is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong, he knows better than his colleague, better than the kid’s parents, what happened and how. Thirty years before, that dead boy could have been him.
A relentlessly gripping and deeply moving novel about the damage you do to yourself when you’re young and think you’re immortal.” (Syndetics summary)

Top 10 for Spring: most borrowed fiction

Wellington readers love a good thriller! Topping our most popular reads Good Girl, Bad Girl launches a new series for Michael Robotham, introducing criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven in this compulsive page turner. There’s thrilling writing from Kate Atkinson, she features twice in our popularity list, with Transcription, where truth and invention catch up with an intelligence retiree, and Big Sky, with Jackson Brodie settling in to a new home, juggling parenting dog and humans as complex mysteries unfold. Character development drives Jo Nesbo’s Knife, this intricate procedural crime novel is driven through a set of grueling investigations, but as the plot twists, feints and reveals readers will be propelled through this gritty piece of writing.

The Rosie Result is still a clear favourite, so popular we’ve given you three different ways to access it! So if you’re downloading it to listen or read, or picking up a paper copy, the final installation of this quirky trilogy will warm your heart. Inspired by her Italian heritage Pellegrino addresses rural-urban drift with a life changing opportunity for her characters and a town in need of new people. Delicious food and delightful setting has clearly charmed Wellington library users.

Is your favourite in the list?


1. Good girl bad girl / Robotham, Michael
“A girl is found hiding in a secret room in a house being renovated after a terrible crime. Six years later, the same girl is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. She initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult and psychologist Cyrus Haven is sent to interview Evie. She’s damaged and destructive, yet possessed of a gift, or a curse, that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with, the ability to tell when someone is lying. Soon he is embroiled in her unique and dangerous world, his life in utmost peril.” (Catalogue)

2. Syndetics book coverA dream of Italy / Nicky Pellegrino.
“Here is your chance to buy your own home in southern Italy for less than the price of a cup of coffee. The picturesque mountain town of Montenello is selling off some of its historic buildings for just one euro each. Elise is in her twenties and desperate to get on the property ladder. Edward wants to escape a life he finds stifling. Mimi is divorced and starting afresh. And there is one person whose true motivation won’t be clear for some time. These four people all have a dream of Italy. And it’s going to change their lives.” (Syndetics summary)

3. Syndetics book coverBig sky / Kate Atkinson.
“Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire. It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes. Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking new novel, both sharply funny and achingly sad, by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

4. Machines like me and people like you / McEwan, Ian (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma.” (Catalogue)

5. Knife / Nesbø, Jo
“A man like Harry had better watch his back…Following the dramatic conclusion of number one bestseller The Thirst, Knife sees Harry Hole waking up with a ferocious hangover, his hands and clothes covered in blood. Not only is Harry about to come face to face with an old, deadly foe, but with his darkest personal challenge yet. The twelfth instalment in Jo Nesbo’s internationally bestselling crime fiction series.” (Catalogue)

6. The Rosie result / Simsion, Graeme C (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“Don and Rosie are back in Melbourne after a decade in New York, and they’re about to face their most important project. Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school. Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards. For Don Tillman, geneticist and World’s Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new. It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world, and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity.” (Catalogue)

7. Past tense / Child, Lee (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“Jack Reacher has extended his thumb and hit the pavement. His plan is to follow the autumn sun on an epic trip across America, from Maine to California. On a country road in rural New Hampshire, he sees a sign to a place he has never been: the town where his father was born. He thinks, ‘What’s one extra day?’ and takes the detour. As Reacher explores his father’s life, and strands of different stories begin to merge, he makes a shocking discovery: the present can be tough, but the past can be tense… and deadly.” (Catalogue)

8. Milkman / Burns, Anna (print), (eBook)
Written in a perfectly-rendered Irish vernacular… Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. Middle sister is our protagonist. She is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her nearly-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with milkman. But when first brother-in-law, who of course had sniffed it out, told his wife, her first sister, to tell her mother to come and have a talk with her, 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…” (Catalogue)

9. Transcription / Atkinson, Kate (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“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 sympathizers. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

10. Normal people : a novel / Rooney, Sally (print), (eBook)
“At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s the star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.” (Catalogue)

Household affairs: new domestic thrillers

Home is supposed to be our safe space, our refuge. Modern thrillers take this idea and run with it in an unsettling direction. These titles will confront our notions of family as the storylines twist convention on it’s head.

Christopher Brookmyre’s sophisticated family thriller Fallen Angel reveals the flawed characters behind a perfect family, each with secrets that will shift the readers’ perspective as the novel unravels.  Family secrets drive the plot of The Half sister, Catherine Chanter. Psychologically intense, this gothic drama has depths to reveal. And in Those people the entire neighborhood gets in on the act. Louise Candlish pivots her book around ‘property pride’, and the resentment that builds over new residents that play their music too loud, park cars on lawns and generally lower the tone.

The half sister / Chanter, Catherine (print) (eBook)
“When Diana’s mother dies, she impulsively invites estranged half-sister Valerie and her nine-year-old son to stay at her grand country home. On the night of the funeral, fueled by wine and years of resentment, the sisters argue and a terrible accident occurs.The foundations of a well-ordered life begin to crack and the lies begin to surface, one dangerous secret after another.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe whisper man / North, Alex
“Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start. But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’. Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He says he hears a whispering at his window.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A family of strangers / Richards, Emilie
“All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused. While Wendy lays low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally.  Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar or worse?” (adapted from Catalogue)

One night at the lake : a novel / Chase, Bethany (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends, and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness. Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is an emotional novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: Can love overcome what happened on that hot summer night?” (adapted from Catalogue)

Fallen angel / Brookmyre, Christopher
“To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions. Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible… And suspicion is a dangerous thing.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Gone Too Long, Lori Roy (ebook), (print)
Imogene Coulter is burying her father a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father’s apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.  Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love. (adapted from Overdrive description)

Those people / Candlish, Louise (print), (eBook)
“Until Darren Booth moves in at number 1, Lowland Way, the neighbourhood is a suburban paradise. But soon after his arrival, disputes over issues like loud music and parking rights escalate all too quickly to public rows and threats of violence.
Then, early one Saturday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: Booth did it. But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree with them. ” (adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverDarling / Rachel Edwards.
“I knew she was trouble from the moment I saw her. I felt it as she stood in the doorway that day: disaster. Not just because she was so different, that skin and that hair, as different from me as it’s possible to be. There was something wrong about her. Wrong for us. It was never going to work. Now she is dead and only I am left to love him. She is dead, and it’s all my fault.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Hideaway / Lundrigan, Nicole
“Gloria Janes appears to be a doting suburban mother and loving wife. But beyond her canary-yellow door, Gloria controls her husband, Telly, as well as seven-year-old Maisy and her older brother Rowan, through a disorienting cycle of adoration and banishment. When Telly leaves, Gloria turns on Rowan. He runs away… Gloria is publicly desperate for the safe return of her son. Her behaviour grows more erratic and her manipulation of Maisy begins to seem dedicated toward an outcome that only she can see. Suspenseful, unsettling, and masterful, Hideaway explores the secrets of a troubled family and illuminates an unlikely hero and a source of unexpected strength.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Villains we love to hate

I’m not a monster – I’m just ahead of the curve.

-The Joker

That uncomfortable sensation when you find yourself enjoying everything your fictional villain does. Well maybe not everything.  Fiction abounds with a wealth of antiheroes, all the way back to Beowulf where you might find yourself sympathising with a monster. A recent treatment of that story in The mere wife does provoke thoughts of who we think of as monstrous. Obsession is not always an undoing, Moriarty’s mind games elevate both Sherlock Holmes and the readers’ experience. The glamour of the high life, with it’s ego stroking attributes is the aim for many, but what if no obstacle, moral or otherwise would deter you, enter Tom Ripley, designed by Patricia Highsmith. Or Dexter, a sociopath with a mission, tempering his murderous endgame with rules. 

Those who transgress for personal gain abound in the selection of titles below, chilling to think that these are librarian’s favourites! Classic characters are reprised in graphic novel form and delving into our electronic vault will locate the original inspiration. Recent additions to our catalogue will entertain while making you cringe and maybe provide a wry smile of recognition.  Enjoy!

Overdrive cover Parker: The Outfit, Donald E. Westlake (ebook)… Villain: Parker
Cooke is back and following up the New York Times best-selling Hunter with a heart-pounding sequel: The Outfit. After evening the score with those who betrayed him, and recovering the money he was cheated out of from the syndicate, Parker is riding high, living in swank hotels and enjoying the finer things in life again. Until, that is, he’s fingered by a squealer who rats him out to the Outfit for the price they put on his head… and they find out too late that if you push Parker, it better be all the way into the grave! (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Dirty Money, Richard Stark (Audiobook) Villain: Parker (so professional he gets 2 titles)
Master criminal Parker takes another turn for the worse as he tries to recover loot from a heist gone terribly wrong. Parker and two cohorts stole the assets of a bank in transit, but the police heat was so great they could only escape if they left the money behind. Now Parker and his associates plot to reclaim the loot, which they hid in the choir loft of an unused country church. As they implement the plan, people on both sides of the law use the forces at their command to stop Parker and grab the goods for themselves.Parker will do whatever it takes to redeem his prize, no matter who gets hurt in the process. (Overdrive description)

Gone girl / Flynn, Gillian (print), (DVD) Villain: … not giving it away
“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors… the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.  Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Codename Villanelle / Jennings, Luke  Villain… toss a coin
She is the perfect assassin. A Russian orphan, saved from the death penalty for the brutal revenge she took on her gangster father’s killers. Ruthlessly trained. Given a new life. New names, new faces – whichever fits. Her paymasters call themselves The Twelve. But she knows nothing of them. Konstantin is the man who saved her, and the one she answers to. She is Villanelle. Without conscience. Without guilt. Without weakness. Eve Polastri is the woman who hunts her. MI5, until one error of judgment costs her everything. Then stopping a ruthless assassin becomes more than her job. It becomes personal. ” (Catalogue)

Use of weapons / Banks, Iain Villain: Elethiomel
“The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances’ foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action. The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought. The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past…” (Catalogue)

Charcoal Joe : an Easy Rawlins mystery / Mosley, Walter Villain: Mouse
“Picking up where his last adventures in Rose Gold left off in L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins has started a new detective agency. Easy’s friend Mouse introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a very old man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe’s friend’s son, Seymour (young, bright, top of his class in physics at Stanford), has been arrested and charged with the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Joe tells Easy he will pay and pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how Seymour literally was found standing over the man’s dead body at his cabin home, and considering the racially charged motives seemingly behind the murder, that might prove to be a tall order.” (Catalogue)

Ripley’s game / Highsmith, Patricia Villain: Ripley
“With its sinister humor and genius plotting, Ripley’s Game is an enduring portrait of a compulsive, sociopathic American antihero. Tom Ripley detested murder, unless it was absolutely necessary. If possible, he preferred someone else to do the dirty work. In this case, a victim of a fatal disease, who will murder for a reward in order to provide for his young widow and child.” (Catalogue)

 

The doll factory / Macneal, Elizabeth Villain: Silas
“London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love. But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (Audiobook) Villain: Mrs Danvers
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives—presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century. “(Overdrive description)

New fictional excursions

This month our new fiction selection offers humour and tragedy with authors that craft tales to confront and amuse. Travelling to new lives, the characters of Christy Lefteri and polyglot Pajtim Statovci reveal two very different tales of escape from Syria in The Beekeeper of Aleppo and European peregrinations in Crossings as politics and violence carve new and unexpected paths. These authors have lived the lives of their characters through emigration and profession, the absurd coincidences of real life enhance their writing.

Colson Whitehead relates the brutal reality of a segregation era reform school in The Nickel Boys. Inspired by horrific events that transpired at the real-life Dozier School for Boys, Whitehead’s brilliant examination of America’s history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight.

The talented Deborah Moggach, script writer and serial inspiration for movies, Tulip Fever and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has written on the ever expanding care for the elderly in The Carer. And the transformative Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame writes on female self determination with a flair for the theatrical 1940’s. Other selections delve into espionage, undertaking and small town justice, a wealth of enjoyment to discover. Enjoy!

The carer / Moggach, Deborah
“James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day? Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nickel boys : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
“Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Joe Country / Herron, Mick
“If Spook Street is where spies live, Joe Country is where they go to die. In Regent’s Park, Diana Taverner’s tenure as First Desk is running into difficulties. If she’s going to make the Service fit for purpose, she might have to make deals with a familiar old devil. Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Beirut Hellfire Society : a novel / Hage, Rawi
“When his father meets a sudden and untimely death, Pavlov, the son of a local undertaker is approached by a colorful member of the mysterious Hellfire Society, an anti-religious sect that, among many rebellious and often salacious activities, arranges secret burial for outcasts who have been denied last rites because of their religion or sexuality. Deftly combining comedy with tragedy, gritty reality with surreal absurdity, Beirut Hellfire Society asks: What, after all, can be preserved in the face of certain change and imminent death?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The care and feeding of ravenously hungry girls / Gray, Anissa
“The Butler family has had their share of trials, as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest.  Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe beekeeper of Aleppo / Christy Lefteri.
“Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. As Nuri and Afra travel, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of girls / Gilbert, Elizabeth (print) (eBook) (eAudiobook)
“In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.” (Catalogue)

Crossing / Statovci, Pajtim
“In the devastation of post-Communist Albania, Bujar and Agim feel trapped: Bujar struggling to come to terms with the loss of his father, Agim facing dangerous realizations about his sexuality and his feelings for Bujar. When shame and guilt push Bujar and Agim to leave everything behind, the unfamiliar life of an immigrant and asylum seeker sets Bujar on a path of reinvention. But Bujar’s quest for identity and belonging is haunted by the mystery of what happened to Agim–his one, true beloved.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Confession with blue horses / Hardach, Sophie
“Tobi and Ella’s childhood in East Berlin is shrouded in mystery, their past in full of unanswered questions. Both remember their family’s daring and terrifying attempt to escape. Where did their parents disappear to, and why? And was there ever a painting of three blue horses? In contemporary Germany, Aaron works for the archive, piecing together the tragic history of thousands of families. But one file in particular catches his eye, unravelling the secrets at its heart becomes an obsession.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Booker Longlist is Here!

Booklists–who doesn’t love a booklist? Especially when it’s the just-released Booker longlist! This year’s selection includes The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her celebrated 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. With The Testaments not due for publication until September, it’s being kept thoroughly under wraps by the Booker judges, so the rest of us will have to wait to draw our own conclusions. Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything is also yet to be released, and will be her third entry in the Booker listings. September will also bring us the menace and banter of Kevin Barry’s Night Boat to Tangier.

Check out the full ‘Booker’s dozen’ below!

Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)

The Testaments / Atwood, Margaret
“In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalized readers for decades: what happens to Offred? When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story fifteen years later, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

 My sister, the serial killer : a novel / Braithwaite, Oyinkan  (print) (eBook)
“Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. 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 . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Girl, woman, other / Evaristo, Bernardine
“Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.” (Catalogue)

The wall / Lanchester, John (print) (eBook)
“Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he’s lucky, he only has two years of this, 729 more nights. The best thing that can happen is that he survives and gets off the Wall and never has to spend another day of his life anywhere near it. He longs for this to be over; longs to be somewhere else. He will soon find out what Defenders do and who the Others are. But somewhere, in the dark cave of his mind, he thinks: wouldn’t it be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if you had to fight for your life?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The man who saw everything / Levy, Deborah
“It is 1988 and Saul Adler, a narcissistic young historian, has been invited to Communist East Berlin to do research. As a gift for his translator’s sister, a Beatles fanatic who will be his host, Saul’s girlfriend will shoot a photograph of him standing in the crosswalk on Abbey Road. As he waits for her to arrive, he is grazed by an oncoming car, which changes the trajectory of his life . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLost children archive / Valeria Luiselli (print) (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. They head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. They have been met by a coyote: a man who speaks to them roughly. They cross a river on rubber tubing and walk for days. Then they climb to the top of a train and travel precariously in the open container on top.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

An orchestra of minorities : a novel / Obioma, Chigozie
“Umuahia, Nigeria. Chinonso, a young poultry farmer, sees a woman attempting to jump to her death. Horrified, Chinonso hurls two of his most prized chickens into the water below to demonstrate the severity of the fall. The woman, Ndali, is moved by his sacrifice. Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family, and when they officially object to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But once there, he discovers that all is not what it seems.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLanny / Max Porter (print) (eBook)
“Not far from London, there is a village. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all.” (Syndetics summary)

Quichotte / Rushdie, Salman
“Quichotte, an ageing travelling salesman obsessed with TV, is on a quest for love. Unfortunately, his daily diet of reality TV, sitcoms, films, soaps, comedies and dramas has distorted his ability to separate fantasy from reality. He wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence, while obsessively writing love letters to a celebrity he knows only through his screen. Together the two innocents set off across America in Quichotte’s trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Frankissstein : a love story / Winterson, Jeanette
“Funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, Frankissstein sees Jeanette Winterson take on identity, technology and sexuality to breathe new life into Mary Shelley’s classic story. Told in part through Shelley’s eyes as she dreams up her monstrous creation, Winterson launches us into a modern-day nightmare where consumerism and politics are set to bring humanity to breaking point. Spanning three centuries and multiple narratives, Frankisssteinis at once a moving love story and a feminist rallying cry for our times.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

New Tales for Long Winter Nights

Our latest fiction offers a diverse range of titles, from embellished folk tales and Shakespearean plays to modern surrealist creations. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi resonates with our deep familiarity of “once upon a time”, Mark Haddon’s The Porpoise riffs on a minor Shakespearean tale and in Improvement Joan Silber’s award-winning title explores the complex interweaving of small events affecting the lives around us.

We’ve also got eerie short stories from Argentinian author Samanta Sweblin and translator Megan McDowell, while New Zealand author Maxine Alterio delivers a swift, menacing tale with The Gulf Between. Great winter reading for those long, dark evenings!

The gulf between / Alterio, Maxine
“A foreigner is seriously injured not far from Julia’s safe Queenstown hideaway. Why does he have her name in his wallet? His unexpected arrival takes Julia back forty-five years to London, where as an impulsive young woman she first met Benito Moretti–a meeting that was to change her life, taking her to the glittering Gulf of Naples. There Julia found herself pitted against her belligerent mother-in-law and Benito’s sinister brother in a lethal battle for her husband and children.” (Catalogue)

The runaways / Bhutto, Fatima
“Anita’s mother is a maalish wali, paid to massage the tired bones of rich women. But Anita’s life will change forever when she meets her elderly neighbour. On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city. But when a rebellious girl joins his school, Monty will find his life going in a very different direction. Sunny’s father left India and went to England to give his son the opportunities he never had. Yet Sunny doesn’t fit in anywhere. These three lives will cross in the desert . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The braid / Colombani, Laetitia
“Smita is an untouchable, her job to clean with her bare hands the village latrines. Giulia is a worker in her father’s wig workshop. She washes, bleaches and dyes the hair. When her father is the victim of a serious accident, she quickly discovers her family have been living a lie. Sarah is a reputed lawyer. Just as she is about to be promoted, she learns she has breast cancer. Her seemingly perfect existence begins to show its cracks. Three lives, bound by a rare expression of courage.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The porpoise / Haddon, Mark
“A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash. She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world. When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail. So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Gingerbread / Oyeyemi, Helen
“Perdita Lee may appear your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The altruists / Ridker, Andrew
“Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can’t afford his mortgage, he’s exasperated his much younger girlfriend, and his kids won’t speak to him. And then there’s the money–the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Improvement / Silber, Joan (print) (eBook)
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. A novel that examines conviction, connection and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki’s beloved Turkish rugs and as colourful as the tattoos decorating Reyna’s body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us. Silber’s most shining achievement yet.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Mouthful of birds: stories / Schweblin, Samanta
“The crunch of a bird’s wing. Abandoned by the roadside, newlywed brides scream with rage as they are caught in the headlights of a passing car. A cloud of butterflies, so beautiful it smothers. Unearthly and unexpected, these stories burrow their way into your psyche with the feel of a sleepless night. Every shadow and bump in the dark takes on huge implications, leaving the pulse racing–blurring the line between the real and the strange.” (Catalogue)

Intelligence, human and otherwise!

Did you know Ian McEwan has written a novel on artificial intelligence, or AI? People have struggled with the concept of AI since the idea was first imagined at least 3000 years ago, and Machines Like Me and People Like You continues this tradition. McEwan examines the fuzzy logic and morals of the human form, and the best intentions that AI contains. But intelligence of its own kind will develop in its own way–human or machine.

Our collection offers some other great creations focussed on artificial intelligence and how humans rationalise and interact with them. These can be found in science fiction and general fiction in a range of formats. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverMachines like me and people like you / Ian McEwan
Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding. This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control.” (Syndetics summary)

All systems red / Wells, Martha (print), (eBook)
The first of four award winning novellas. “On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.” (Catalogue)

Plum rains / Romano-Lax, Andromeda
“2029: In Tokyo, Angelica Navarro, a Filipina nurse who has been in Japan for the last five years, works as caretaker for Sayoko Itou, a moody, secretive woman about to turn 100 years old. One day, Sayoko receives a present: a cutting-edge robot “friend” that will teach itself to anticipate Sayoko’s every need. Angelica wonders if she is about to be forced out of her much-needed job by an inanimate object–one with a preternatural ability to uncover the most deeply buried secrets of the humans around it…” (Catalogue)

The municipalists : a novel / Fried, Seth
“Henry Thompson has dedicated his life to improving America’s infrastructure as a proud employee of the United States Municipal Survey. So when the agency comes under attack, he dutifully accepts his unexpected mission to visit Metropolis looking for answers. But his plans to investigate quietly, quickly, and carefully are interrupted by his new partner: a day-drinking know-it-all named OWEN, who also turns out to be the projected embodiment of the agency’s supercomputer.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover I Still Dream, James Smythe (ebook)
“Laura Bow invented Organon, a rudimentary artificial intelligence. Now she and her creation are at the forefront of the new wave of technology, and Laura must decide whether or not to reveal Organon’s full potential to the world. If it falls into the wrong hands, its power could be abused. Will Organon save humanity, or lead it to extinction?” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Guardian Angels and Other Monsters, Daniel H. Wilson (eAudiobook)
“In All Kinds of Proof, a down-and-out drunk makes the unlikeliest of friends when he is hired to train a mail-carrying robot; in Blood Memory, a mother confronts the dangerous reality that her daughter will never assimilate in this world after she was the first child born through a teleportation device; in Miss Gloria, a robot comes back to life in many different forms in a quest to save a young girl. Guardian Angels and Other Monsters examines how artificial intelligence both saves and destroys humanity.” (Overdrive description)

The soldier / Asher, Neal L. (print)
“A corner of space swarms with alien technology, a danger to all sentient life. It’s guarded by Orlandine, who must keep it contained – as it could destroy entire civilizations. An alien intelligence shares her vigil. But she doesn’t share everything with Dragon . . . Orlandine is hatching a plan to obliterate this technology, removing its threat forever.” (Catalogue)

The Crying Machine / Chivers, Greg (print), (eBook) or (eAudiobook)
“The world has changed, but Jerusalem endures. Overlooked by new superpowers, the Holy City of the future is a haven of spies and smugglers, exiles and extremists. A refugee with strange technological abilities searches for a place to disappear. An ambitious young criminal plots the heist. A corrupt minister harnesses the power of the past in a ruthless play for complete control. And the wheels of another plan begin to turn…” (Catalogue)

Our latest new New Zealand fiction showcase

In dividing the light, things are seen. And we notice ourselves.”
― John Allison New Zealand poet. 

New Zealand literature is a rich and diverse field one full of many voices and many stories. This range and diversity is well represented in our latest fiction showcase to focus  on new New Zealand fiction releases.

Our latest showcase ranges from the compulsive, tense, nail biting  page turner that is Call me Evie by J.P. Pomare to the more gentle captivating A dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino there is also the latest outing from best selling  author Catherine Robertson called What you wish for and Pearly Gates set in and celebrating small town New Zealand by Owen Marshall.  As well as  a veritable  host of  wonderful other voices and stories to be experienced and enjoyed.

Call 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?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A dream of Italy / Nicky Pellegrino.
“The picturesque mountain town of Montenello is selling off some of its historic buildings for just one euro each. To be considered as a future resident of Montenello contact the town’s mayor, Salvio Valentini. Many people read Salvio’s advertisement with excitement. Elise is in her twenties and desperate to get on the property ladder. Edward wants to escape a life he finds stifling. Mimi is divorced and starting afresh. And there is one person whose true motivation won’t be clear for some time. These four people all have a dream of Italy. And it’s going to change their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Julian calendar / William Henry.
“A bright young photojournalist returns to London with the aim of releasing himself from a profound love affair that has stalled without explanation. Instead, he is derailed by memories of the secretive nurse who broke his heart, and rejuvenated by a man whose unexpected and intense friendship challenges the fundamental notion of love itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Photos of you / Tammy Robinson.
“People are here for me, to celebrate the anniversary of the day I was given life. On the very same day I’d just been told my life was all but over.’ When Ava Green turns twenty-eight, she discovers this will be her last birthday. The cancer she thought she’d beaten three years ago is back, only this time it’s terminal. But she is not going to let the cancer define her last, precious months, she is going to make her childhood dream come true: her wedding.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat you wish for / Catherine Robertson.
“Dr Ashwin Ghadavi, the newly imported GP, is trying hard to fit into Gabriel’s Bay. His challenges include the immovable force of his office manager, Mac, the ambiguities of the Kiwi idiom, and his unrequited attraction to Mac’s daughter, Emma. Having returned home, Emma is determined to help her old friend, Devon, whether he wants it or not. She’s also on a mission to right eco wrongs, and her targets include local farmer Vic Halsworth, who’s already neck deep in the proverbial and, to make matters worse, seems to be having visions of moose.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPearly Gates : a novel / Owen Marshall.
“This entertaining and insightful novel both skewers and celebrates small-town New Zealand. Pat `Pearly’ Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements. He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries. He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor. Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes. But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRotoroa / Amy Head.
“On tiny, isolated Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf is a treatment facility for alcoholic men. It’s here, at the Salvation Army-run home, that three characters at very different points in their lives will find themselves gathered, each for reasons of their own. There is Katherine, known to history as Elsie K. Morton, famous journalist and author; Jim, a sleepless alcoholic sent to the island by his family; and Lorna, a teenage mother who joins the Salvation Army looking for a fresh start. As the stories of their lives are revealed, so too are their hopes and vulnerabilities.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Ice Shelf / Anne Kennedy.
“The Ice Shelf: an eco-comedy” On the eve of flying to Antarctica to take up an arts fellowship, thirty-something Janice, recently separated, has a long night of remembrance, regret and realisation as she goes about the city looking for a friend to take care of her fridge while she’s away. En route she discards section after section of her novel in the spirit of editing until there is nothing left to edit. The Ice Shelf, a novel written as Acknowledgements, is an allegory for the dangers of wasting love and other non-renewable resources.” (Syndetics summary)

Admissions : tales of life, death & love in a hospital not far from here … / Mira Harrison.
“Here are the stories of eight women doctors, nurses, cooks and cleaners at the heart of a hospital that connects them all in a city that could be anywhere. Inspired by Mira Harrison’s experiences in healthcare in the UK and NZ, these engrossing narratives unveil the shifting balance between professional and private worlds. Our scrupulous or haphazard plans are disrupted by falling in love; by our connections to others; by the birth of our children; by loss, grief, and ultimately death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)