Readers’ Choice: People love reading…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syndetics book cover

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

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

Myths and Legends inspiring contemporary fiction writers

Circe book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent acquisitions: a feast of fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fresh words from far off places

Tropic of Violence book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reader’s Choice – the reviews are in!

Shadowless Book Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcription / Kate Atkinson.
Syndetics book cover“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever. Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat.” (Syndetics summary)

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

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

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

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

Wild fire / Ann Cleeves.
Syndetics book coverWild Fire is the eighth, and final book, in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series Shetland: Welcoming. Wild. Remote. Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, an English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life.But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate.” (Syndetics summary)

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

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

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

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

The burgeoning Spring Fiction collection

Ponti book cover

The unpredictable spring season brings a wealth of new material to the library. New to the fiction collection are seasoned writers exploring new territory and first time writers with a unique take on the world. In Milkman, prize winning author Anna Burns delivers a disturbing account of how personally affecting times of conflict can be, when distrust is sown in the closest of communities. Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif also takes the reality of conflict as a starting point for his novel on how wartime affects your view of others. Marcus Zuzak takes his writing in a new direction with Bridge of Clay describing the transformation of a family. First time novelist Daisy Johnson upturns the myth of Oedipus Rex in Everything Under, using an invented childhood language to prise open memories.

Countering springtime, the spectre of Halloween is raised by a long established voice in vampire literature, Anne Rice has a new work on the long reign of Prince Lestat. New author Sharlene Teo spins a tale around the lives of three women defined by the ghostly role in a horror movie. Korean writer Ŏn-su Kim’s fast paced translated novel The Plotters looks to satisfy more than one audience with a deft plot, quirky characters and two cats named Reading Lamp and Book Stand.

Something for all to enjoy in the Fiction selection from October.

Milkman / Burns, Anna
Written in a perfectly-rendered Irish vernacular Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. The story of inaction with enormous consequences and decisions that are never made, but for which people are judged and punished. Middle sister is our protagonist. Middle sister is about to become ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Red birds / Hanif, Mohammed
“An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn’t what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it’s an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home. In the camp, teenager Momo ‘s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind…” (Catalogue)

Boomer1 / Torday, Daniel
“Mark Brumfeld, a bluegrass musician and newly minted English PhD. When his punk bassist girlfriend Cassie rejects his marriage proposal he retreats to the basement of his childhood home. From there, he launches a series of acidulous online video monologs blasting Baby Boomers for their grip on available jobs. But as his videos go viral, Mark loses control of what he began with consequences that ensnare himself and ex-girlfriend in a matter of national security. Told through the perspectives of Mark, Cassie, and Mark’s mother, Julia, a child of the ’60s whose life is more conventional than she ever imagined, Boomer1 is timely, suspenseful, and in every line alert to the siren song of endless opportunity that beckons and beguiles all of us.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ponti / Teo, Sharlene
“I am Miss Frankenstein, I am the bottom of the bell curve.” So declares Szu, a teenager living in a dark, dank house on a Singapore cul-de-sac. Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress, who gained fame for her portrayal of a ghost – and now a hack medium performing seances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into a fraught friendship that will haunt them both for decades to come. With remarkable emotional acuity, dark comedy, and in vivid prose, Sharlene Teo’s Ponti traces the suffocating tangle the lives of four misfits, women who need each other as much as they need to find their own way.” (Catalogue)

Everything under / Johnson, Daisy
“Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago. Daisy Johnson’s debut novel turns classical myth on its head and takes readers to a modern-day England unfamiliar to most. As daring as it is moving, Everything Under is a story of family and identity, of fate, language, love and belonging that leaves you unsettled and unstrung.” (Catalogue)

Love is blind : the rapture of Brodie Moncur / Boyd, William
Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. When Brodie is offered a job in Paris, he seizes the chance to flee Edinburgh and sparks an obsessive love affair with a beautiful Russian soprano. Brodie’s love for Lika and its dangerous consequences pursue him around Europe and beyond, during an era of overwhelming change as the nineteenth century becomes the twentieth.” (Catalogue)

Hippie / Coelho, Paulo
Drawing on the rich experience of his own life, best-selling author Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to relive the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order. In Hippie, he tells the story of Paulo, who wants to become a writer and sets off on a journey in search of a deeper meaning for his life. Paulo’s travels take him to Amsterdam here he meets Karl. She convinces Paulo to join her on a trip aboard the Magic Bus that travels across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu. They embark on the journey in the company of fascinating fellow travelers, each of whom has a story to tell, and each of whom will undergo a personal transformation, changing their priorities and values along the way.” (Catalogue)

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

Blood communion : a tale of Prince Lestat / Rice, Anne
“In this spellbinding novel, Lestat, rebel outlaw, addresses the tribe of vampires, directly, intimately, passionately, and tells the mesmerizing story of the formation of the Blood Communion and how he became Prince of the vampire world. As the tale unfolds, Lestat takes us from the towers and battlements of his ancestral castle in the snow-covered mountains of France to the verdant wilds of lush Louisiana with its lingering fragrances of magnolias and night jasmine; from the far reaches of the Pacific’s untouched islands to the 18th-century city of St. Petersburg and the court of the Empress Catherine.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The plotters / Kim, Ŏn-su
“The important thing is not who pulls the trigger but who’s behind the person who pulls the trigger, the plotters, the masterminds working in the shadows. Raised by Old Raccoon in The Library of Dogs, Reseng has always been surrounded by plots to kill, and by books that no one ever reads. In Seoul’s corrupt underworld, he was destined to be an assassin. Until he breaks the rules. That’s when he meets a trio of young women; a convenience store worker, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed obsessive knitter, with an extraordinary plot of their own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Best and Bitey-ist Vampire Novels Ever!

Anno Dracula book cover

Over 120 years after the release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the author’s great-grandnephew has written a prequel to the Victorian vampire classic! Dacre Stoker’s novel, Dracul, is based on the original typescript of Dracula as well as associated notes and journals, and “speculates on what Bram Stoker’s early life might have been like had the creatures he later created been real.”

But Dacre Stoker isn’t the first to build upon Dracula’s story: below you’ll find a list of nine unnerving titles that have been influenced by the Transylvanian Count, from Nordic noir to alternative history to a sci-fi classic (as well as one work that pre-dates Dracula by 26 years!).

The historian: a novel / Kostova, Elizabeth
“Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.” (Catalogue)

Let the right one in / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
“John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, a huge bestseller in his native Sweden, is a unique and brilliant fusion of social novel and vampire legend, as well as a deeply moving fable about rejection, friendship and loyalty.” (Catalogue)

Interview with the vampire / Rice, Anne
“Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force–a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.” (Catalogue)

The passage / Cronin, Justin
“A security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment that only six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte can stop.” (Catalogue)

Anno Dracula / Newman, Kim
“It is 1888 and Dracula has married Queen Victoria and turned a large percentage of the English population into the undead. Peppered with familiar characters from Victorian history and fiction (Dr Jekyll, Oscar Wilde, Swinburne, John Jago), the novel tells the story of vampire Genevieve Dieudonne and Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club as they strive to solve the mystery of the Ripper murders.” (Catalogue)

Dracula: the un-dead / Stoker, Dacre
“The official sequel to Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, written by his direct descendant and endorsed by the Stoker family, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew joins with Dracula documentarian Holt to create a sequel based on notes the author left behind. A quarter-century has passed, and Bram Stoker is directing a play about Dracula–who seems to be making a comeback…” (Catalogue)

Dracula’s guest [electronic resource] / Stoker, Bram
“Published in 1914, several years after Bram Stoker’s death by his widow, Dracula”s Guest is one of several stories that Stoker had wished to publish as a supplement to his most famous novel. Join him as he drags the reader out into the hills beyond Munich on one of the most terrifying nights of the year–Walpurgisnacht, or The Witches Night.” (Catalogue)

I am legend / Matheson, Richard
“Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth… but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood. By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn. How long can one man survive?” (Catalogue)

Carmilla / Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan
“Predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Carmilla is the ultimate Gothic vampire tale. When a mysterious carriage crashes outside their castle home in Styria, Laura and her father agree to take in its injured passenger, a young woman named Carmilla. It’s not until Laura’s father, increasingly concerned for his daughter’s well-being, sets out on a trip to discover more about the mysterious Carmilla that the terrifying truth reveals itself.” (Catalogue)

Books on CD: a new lease on borrowing life!

The Origin audiobook cover

Audiobooks are free at Wellington Central Library! If you’re downloading or listening on CD there is no charge and the lending period for books on CD is still four weeks. We have collected all of the CD audiobooks at the Central Library and you can now find them at the end of the Fiction collection on the ground floor, just to the side of the Fiction Enquiries desk.

Books on CD are a curious phenomena in the story telling world- a whole book read to you as you choose to hear it! No USB port in your vehicle? Books on CD are great for a road trip, lengthy car trips become a time to enjoy a tale. A ten CD set can be devoured in one sitting, well you might need a comfort stop or three. Admittedly, there is the odd cringe at the delivery of the occasional narrator, but the variety of classic titles to newly published material, read by an array of performers means that there is plenty to choose from.

There are some great titles to borrow have look at some of our new acquisitions below:

Earthly remains / Leon, Donna
“During an interrogation Commissario Guido Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret. In the aftermath, he begins to doubt his career choices and realises that he needs a break. Granted leave from the Questura, Brunetti is shipped off to a villa on Sant’Erasmo- a place of rest, reflection, and reading. Then David Casati, the caretaker, goes missing after a storm, and Brunetti feels compelled to investigate.” (Catalogue)

Death of a ghost / Beaton, M. C
“When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers. Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie “Clumsy” Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all. There’s no sign of any ghost… but a dead body propped against the wall. Something strange and deadly is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the “ghost” can strike again…” (Catalogue)

The last Tudor / Gregory, Philippa
“The latest novel from Philippa Gregory features one of the most famous girls in history, Lady Jane Grey, and her two sisters, each of whom dared to defy her queen. At seventeen, Lady Jane Grey was England’s queen for nine days before Mary Tudor claimed the throne and had her executed. Jane’s younger sister, Katherine, was locked in the Tower of London by queens Mary and Elizabeth to prevent her producing a Tudor son. But the last Grey sister, a beautiful dwarf disregarded by the court, keeps her family’s secrets.” (Catalogue)

A legacy of spies / Le Carré, John
“Spymaster le Carré returns with his greatest creation, George Smiley. Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War.” (Catalogue)

The house of unexpected sisters / McCall Smith, Alexander
“Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi investigate a new mystery and learn valuable lessons about first impressions and forgiveness in this latest installment of this irresistibly charming series. Precious Ramotswe has always idolised her father, the late Obed Ramotswe. She feels that she knows all about his life, but does she? Sometimes our parents surprise us, and we discover that things were not quite what we thought them to be.” (Catalogue)

The terranauts / Boyle, T. Coraghessan
“It’s 1994, and in the Arizona desert a grand experiment is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” are to live under glass in a prototype of an off-earth colony. With humor and wit, T.C. Boyle inhabits the perspectives of the players in this survivalist game, illuminating the inherent fallibility of human nature.” (Catalogue)

Origin : a novel / Brown, Dan
“In keeping with his trademark style, Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code and Inferno, interweaves codes, science, religion, history, art, and architecture into this new novel. Origin thrusts Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon into the dangerous intersection of humankind’s two most enduring questions, and the earthshaking discovery that will answer them.” (Catalogue)

The woman in the window : a novel / Finn, A. J
“A twisty, powerful Hithcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house. Finn’s white-knuckler defines the term hot debut. Its heroine, the reclusive Anna Fox, hides away in her New York apartment tippling wine, watching old movies, and looking out the window, most recently at the husband, wife, and teenage son who just moved in across the way. Then she sees-or thinks she sees-something shocking, and what follows has wracked nerves enough to merit Gone Girl/Girl on the Train comparisons. (Catalogue)

Our most popular Fiction. Who’s reading what?

October is the season of book awards, with the Man Booker award and the Dagger awards from the Crime Writer’s Association. Also this year, in lieu of the Nobel for Literature, the librarians of Sweden had a hand in the New Academy for Literature. Selecting the author who has told the story of the “humans in the world”. Using a global open vote, the Laureate Maryse Conde from Gaudeloupe has been awarded top prize. Taking this idea to heart we have created a list of the most recent popular reads here at Wellington City Libraries, books are rated by number of issues across the system.

There are a few themes running through the most popular reads, the way World War II upturned the lives of many and how loss leads to new experiences. Wellington readers seem to love a well crafted thriller that keeps readers guessing as to motives and methods. One surprising entry is the Walking Dead series of graphic novels, which has proved to be hugely popular with our readers.

1. Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“The multi-award-winning author of The English Patient turns in a new novel both mysterious and dramatic, featuring 14-year-old Nathaniel and older sister Rachel, whose parents leave them in the care of a shadowy and possibly criminal individual called the Moth when they move to Singapore in 1945. The Moth’s friends, connected by wartime service, have lots to teach the siblings, who face more confusion when the siblings’ mother returns, mum about their father. In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire.”(Catalogue)

2. The walking dead. Compendium one / Kirkman, Robert
“The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibilty. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living”(Catalogue)

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

4. Careless love / Robinson, Peter
“A young, local student has apparently committed suicide. Her body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. How did she get there? Where did she die? Who moved her, and why? As the inconsistencies multiply and the mysteries proliferate, Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. This is someone who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants–and suddenly the stakes are raised and the hunt is on.” (Catalogue)

5. The other wife / Robotham, Michael
“Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong. This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?” (Catalogue)

6. Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“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, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, 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)

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Shaffer, Mary Ann
“In January 1946, London is beginning to recover from World War II, and Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her next book. She spent the war years writing a column for the Times until her own dear flat became a victim of a German bomb. While sifting through the rubble and reconstructing her life, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island occupied by the Germans. So begins a correspondence that draws Juliet into the community of Guernsey and the members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Named to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, the society shares their unique love of literature and life with a newfound friend. Seeing this as the subject of her next book, Juliet sails to Guernsey, a voyage that will change her life” (Catalogue)

8. Clock dance / Tyler, Anne
“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory, surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. (Catalogue)

9. Pieces of her / Slaughter, Karin
“Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we? But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again. (Catalogue)

10. The midnight line / Child, Lee
“Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not? So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness.” (Catalogue)