Some of the novels we are looking forward to reading in 2019

The Rosie Result book cover

“…her own experience was beginning to tell her that an alert old age can be more keen than the cards.”
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

As we gaze into the crystal ball to see what literary delights are in store for us in 2019, there are already a few novels that we are very excited about, emerging from the tea leaves. These include the following:

Margaret AtwoodThe Testaments (a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale).
We don’t know much about this book but what we do know makes it one of the most anticipated books of 2019. What we know is that it is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and it’s set fifteen years after the final scene of that book.

Joanne HarrisThe Strawberry Thief.
She shot to fame and wide spread popularity with her 1999 novel  “Chocolat”  this book is the fourth book in that sequence and it has been a long seven years since the third installment Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure came out.

Ian McEwanMachines Like Me .
Ian McEwan’s new book is a subversive re-imagining of 80’s Britain  in which the UK has lost the Falklands war and Alan Turing has developed sophisticated AI.

Mark HaddonThe Porpoise.
Coincidentally, it’s also been seven years since Mark Haddon last released a novel. In his new outing The Porpoise he finds inspiration from the world of Ancient Greece during its golden age and bases his new novel around the statesman, orator and general of Athens, Pericles.

Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Result.
The third instalment of the international bestselling comic series in which geneticist Don Tillman searches for love looks sure to please his legions of fans.

Jeanette WintersonFrankisstein.
Jeanette Winterson reworks Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the 21st Century. Examining as she goes along gender, sexuality, technology and identity. Written, we are told, in Winterson’s unique unflinching style.

Tracy ChevalierThe Single Thread.
There’s not much released about this title yet but going from Chevalier’s track record it should be a major highlight of 2019.

Ali SmithSpring.
Spring is the  third installment of Ali Smith’s  much loved and acclaimed Seasonal Quartet cycle.

Soren SveistrupThe Chestnut Man.
Sveistrup, is the creator and writer of the award winning  Scandi Noir crime series  The Killing TV series. So expect super clever and unexpected plot twists and much Scandinavian bleakness.

Chigozie ObiomaAn Orchestra of Minorities.
From the Man Booker finalist and author of “The Fishermen” this novel  follows a Nigerian farmer on a quest to find love with the woman he loves.

Samanta SchweblinMouthful of Birds.
Schweblin’s Fever Dream was variously described as “rivetingly compelling”,”brilliant” and “terrifying”. This collection of twenty short stories is her first to be  translated into English and promises to be another eerie, surreal, dark thrill ride.

But if you can’t wait for these books to come out here is a selection of these authors’ previous works which are already published, and in the library just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverThe handmaid’s tale / Margaret Atwood
“The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour-de-force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAtonement / Ian McEwan ; with an introduction by Claire Messud
“On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe curious incident of the dog in the night-time / Mark Haddon.
“Fifteen-year-old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands maths. He understands science. What he can’t understand are other human beings. When he finds his neighbor’s dog lying dead on the lawn, he decides to track down the killer and write a murder mystery about it. But what other mysteries will he end up uncovering?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFive quarters of the orange / Joanne Harris.
“Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets memory play strange games.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Rosie project / Graeme Simsion.
Funny and heartwarming, a gem of a book.” (Marian Keyes)
A first-date dud, socially awkward, and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, Don Tillman has given up on love. Until a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire – a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire – to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling. And looking for her biological father – a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with. The Rosie Project is a romantic comedy like no other. It is arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, and it will make you want to drink cocktails.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOranges are not the only fruit / Jeanette Winterson.
“This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, intoxicating and tender, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a journey to the bizarre outposts of religious excess and an exploration of love.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lady and the unicorn / Tracy Chevalier.
“Set over the period 1490 to 1492, Tracy Chevalier’s novel moves between a chateau in Lyons and the cities of Paris and Brussels. The story concerns a series of six Flemish tapestries known as the lady and the unicorn tapestries.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter / Ali Smith.
“In Ali Smith’s Winter, life force matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens- art, love, laughter.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fishermen : a novel / Chigozie Obioma.
“In a small town in western Nigeria, four young brothers – the youngest is nine, the oldest fifteen – use their strict father’s absence from home to go fishing at a forbidden local river. They encounter a dangerous local madman who predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by another. This prophesy breaks their strong bond, and unleashes a tragic chain of events of almost mythic proportions.
Passionate and bold, The Fishermen is a breathtakingly beautiful novel, firmly rooted in the best of African storytelling.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFever dream : a novel / Samanta Schweblin ; translated by Megan McDowell.
“A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ring out the old, ring in the new: the best novels of 2018!

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.” ― John Cheever

As the old year draws to a close and the new year begins it’s a good time to take stock of the best fiction releases of 2018. To do this, we’ve created a list of 100 books that we regard as amongst the finest releases of the year. We’ve selected titles from across the fiction spectrum, from science fiction to mysteries, best sellers to award-winners and all points in between. Amongst them is a growing trend of popular and commercially-successful books whose world views, ideas and perspectives originate from non-western backgrounds. China and the Middle Eastern countries were particularly strong, especially with books like Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif, Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk and Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri.

There have also been a few names who have either burst onto the fiction scene or have cemented their reputation, like Anna Burns with her Booker Prize-winning novel Milkman or Sally Rooney with Normal People. And finally we’ve seen some well-established writers creating masterful works like All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan or Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.

All in all it’s been a fascinating and exciting year–roll on 2019!

Syndetics book coverRed birds / Mohammed Hanif.
“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.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrankenstein in Baghdad : a novel / Ahmed Saadawi ; translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright.
” From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrive your plow over the bones of the dead / Olga Tokarczuk ; translated from the Polish by Antonia Llyod-Jones.Server ErrorYour request could not be completed.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead takes place in a remote Polish village, where Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, she becomes involved in the investigation. Duszejko is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars, and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmpire of sand / Tasha Suri.
” Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s  Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy. The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.
When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.”  (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMilkman / Anna Burns.Milkman
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.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNormal people / Sally Rooney.
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll this by chance / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“If we don’t have the past in mind, it is merely history. If we do, it is still part of the present. Esther’s grandparents first meet at a church dance in London in 1947. Stephen, a shy young Kiwi, has left to practise pharmacy on the other side of the world. Eva has grown up English, with no memory of the Jewish family who sent their little girl to safety. When the couple emigrate, the peace they seek in New Zealand cannot overcome the past they have left behind. Following the lives of Eva, her daughter Lisa and her granddaughter Esther, All This by Chance is a moving multigenerational family saga about the legacy of the Holocaust and the burden of secrets never shared, by one of New Zealand’s finest writers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarlight / Michael Ondaatje.Warlight: A Novel
“London, 1945. The capital is still reeling from the war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel are abandoned by their parents who leave the country on business, and are left in the dubious care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. Nathaniel is introduced to The Moth’s band of criminal misfits and is caught up in a series of teenage misadventures, from smuggling greyhounds for illegal dog racing to lovers’ trysts in abandoned buildings at night. Years later Nathaniel, now an adult, begins to slowly piece together using the files of intelligence agencies – and through reality, recollection and imagination – the startling truths of puzzles formed decades earlier.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

 

Medieval mysteries: The whodunnit’s!

Night of the Lightbringer book cover

The Middle Ages, 500-1500 AD were a fascinating time, where the end of the Roman Empire led to a local reclaiming of power. Despite the early centuries of this era being coined the ‘Dark Ages’, travel and knowledge exchange lead to interesting encounters throughout Europe. Placing characters in these times leads to great storytelling, redolent with historical detail.

Lending some fact to your fiction… University of Cambridge criminologist Professor Manuel Eisner has loaded details from the original Corner’s rolls onto a digital map showing location and details of murders, 1300 to 1340AD. These illustrate personal vendettas and unfortunate results from tempers flaring in the streets. Whether a “game keeper fatally stabbed at dusk”, guild warfare or the dire consequences of littering with eel skins!

Syndetics book coverA twisted vengeance / Candace Robb.
“1399. York is preparing for civil war… with the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy–Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. The brutal murder of one of Eleanor’s servants leads Kate to suspect that her mother’s troubles have followed her from Strasbourg. Is she secretly involved in the political upheaval?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverApothecary Melchior and the mystery of St Olaf’s Church / Indrek Hargla.
“The Apothecary Melchior series plunges the reader into 15th-century Tallinn when Estonia is at the edge of Christian lands and the last foothold before the East: a town of foreign merchants and engineers, dominated by the mighty castle of Toompea and the construction of St Olaf’s Church, soon to become the tallest building in the world. Apothecary Melchior is a divisive figure in the town: respected for his arcane knowledge and scientific curiosity but also slightly feared for his mystical witch-doctor aura. When a mysterious murder occurs in the castle, Melchior is called in to help find the killer and reveals a talent for detection.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNight of the lightbringer / Peter Tremayne.
“Ireland, AD 671. On the eve of the pagan feast of Samhain, Brother Edulf and the warrior, Aidan, discover a man murdered in an unlit pyre in the heart of Cashel. He has been dressed in the robes of a religieux and killed by the ritualistic ‘three deaths’. But in their search for the killer, Sister Fidelma and Eadulf will soon discover a darker shadow looming over the fortress. For their investigation is linked to a book stolen from the Papal Secret Archives which could destroy the New Faith in the Five Kingdoms… and Fidelma herself will come up against mortal danger before the case is unravelled.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe raven’s head / Karen Maitland.
“France, 1224. Vincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head. Any attempt to sell the head fails …until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain – unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest. Once more Vincent’s life is in danger because Sylvain and his neighbours, the menacing White Canons, consider him a predestined sacrifice in their shocking experiment.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverTemplar’s Acre / Michael Jecks.
“The Holy Land, 1291.A war has been raging across these lands for decades. The forces of the Crusaders have been pushed back again and again by the Muslims and now just one city remains in Crusader control. That one city stands between the past and the future. One city which must be defended at all costs. That city is Acre. And into this battle where men will fight to the death to defend their city comes a young boy. Green and scared, he has never seen battle before. But he is on the run from a dark past and he has no choice but to stay. And to stay means to fight. That boy is Baldwin de Furnshill.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLand of shadows : a medieval mystery / Priscilla Royal.
“In March, 1279, Edward I takes a break from hammering the Welsh and bearing down on England’s Jews to vacation in Gloucestershire. The royal party breaks the journey at Woodstock Manor. And there one life begins as Queen Eleanor labors to birth a new daughter, and one draws to an end when apoplexy fells Baron Adam Wynethorpe. The royal manor is packed with troubling guests including a sinister priest, an elderly Jewish mother from nearby Oxford mourning a son hanged for the treason of coin-clipping, contentious and greedy courtiers, and a lusty wife engaged with more than one lover.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVeil of lies : a medieval noir / Jeri Westerson.
“In 1383, Guest is called to the compound of a merchant – a reclusive mercer who suspects that his wife is being unfaithful and wants Guest to look into the matter. Not wishing to sully himself in such disgraceful, dishonorable business but in dire need of money, Guest agrees and discovers that the wife is indeed up to something, presumably nothing good. But when he comes to inform his client, he is found dead, murdered in a sealed room, locked from the inside. Now Guest has come to the unwanted attention of the Lord Sheriff of London and most recent client was murdered while he was working for him. And everything seems to turn on a religious relic – a veil reported to have wiped the brow of Christ – that is now missing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDevil’s wolf / Paul Doherty.
“1296: King Edward I has led his army to Scotland, determined to take the country under his crown. But the fierce Scots have no intention of submitting to their oppressor and violent and bloody war breaks out.
1311: Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, finds himself back in Scotland and is revisited by the horrors he witnessed there fifteen years ago.
An anonymous letter was delivered to the new king. It promised information about a fatal incident that could allow England to finally bow out of the war with the Scots. Tasked with finding out the truth about the murder, Corbett is forced to take risks he would rather avoid and put his faith in the words of strangers. But with an unknown traitor lurking in the shadows and danger around every corner, will Corbett be able to unravel the complex web of plots in time?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Rufus spy / Alys Clare.The Rufus Spy
“October, 1093. Two young men have been brutally beaten to death; a third viciously attacked. All three men are of similar appearance. But could there be another connection? Lassair meanwhile has agreed to accompany her former lover Rollo on a perilous journey north in search of King William. On their trail is a skilled, relentless and ruthless assassin. Who is he ? and why has he targeted Rollo? If they are to survive, the hunted must become the hunters: Rollo and Lassair must lure their pursuer to the treacherous fenland terrain Lassair knows so well and turn the tables on their would-be killer.” (Syndetics summary)

Festive fiction: The twelve authors of Christmas

The Christmas Surprise book cover

Whether you love the sound of sleigh bells and the taste of falling snow slowly melting on your tongue, or if you are more a bah, humbug type about Christmas, it is good to have a festive read over the festive season. And in this special ‘who writes like…’ promotion we have selected authors that will fit in with both sides of the Christmas season. So sit back, break open the mince pies, throw another yuletide log on the fire and luxuriate into a fantastic book.

Syndetics book coverRivers of London / Ben Aaronovitch
“My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Ben Aaronovitch? Douglas Adams, Jim Butcher, Benedict Jacka, Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire.

Syndetics book coverThe fallen / David Baldacci.
“Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped. Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene. Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like David Baldacci? Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Brad Meltzer, James Patterson, Stuart Woods.

Syndetics book coverLook to windward / Iain M. Banks.
“It was one of the less glorious incidents of the Idiran wars that led to the destruction of two suns and the billions of lives they supported. Now, eight hundred years later, the light from the first of those ancient deaths has reached the Culture’s Masaq’ Orbital. For the Hub Mind, overseer of the massive bracelet world, its arrival is particularly poignant. But it may still be eclipsed by events from the Culture’s more recent past.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Iain M. Banks? Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Richard K. Morgan, Alastair Reynolds, Vernor Vinge.

Syndetics book coverDeath of a dreamer: a Hamish McBeth mystery / M.C. Beaton.
“Occasionally, the rugged landscape of Scotland attracts dreamers who move north, wrapped in fantasies of enjoying the simple life. They usually don’t last, defeated by the climate or by inhospitable locals. But it looks as if Effie Garrand has come to stay. When local constable Hamish Macbeth calls on her, he is amazed to find the small woman still in residence after a particularly hideous winter. Unfortunately, Effie is also quite delusional, having convinced herself and everyone else that local artist Jock Fleming is in love with her, and that they are engaged. After a huge fight with Jock, Effie is found in the mountains, poisoned by hemlock. Now it’s up to Hamish Macbeth to find the dreamers killer before any more nightmares unfold.” (Syndetics summary)

Who writes like M.C. Beaton? Lilian Jackson Braun, Chris Cavender, Mary Daheim, Carole Nelson Douglas, Monica Ferris.

Syndetics book coverHeir to the shadows / Anne Bishop.
“The Blood have waited centuries for the coming of Witch, the living embodiment of magic. But Jaenelle, the young girl singled out by prophecy, is haunted by the cruel battles fought over her–for not all the Blood await her as their Savior. Some dismiss her as a myth. Some refuse to believe. And still others look forward to using her, making her a pawn to their shadowy devices. Nothing, however, can deflect her from her destiny–and the day of reckoning looms near. When her memories return. When her magic matures. When she is forced to accept her fate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Anne Bishop? Jacqueline Carey, Gail Carriger, Kate Forsyth, Laurell K. Hamilton, J.R. Ward.

Syndetics book coverThe Christmas surprise / Jenny Colgan.
“Includes mouth-watering recipes Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little sweetshop she owns and runs. But when fate strikes Rosie and her boyfriend, Stephen, a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it’s going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their Lipton friends to hold them together. After all, don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Jenny Colgan? Abby Clements, Debbie Macomber, Milly Johnson, Susan Mallery, Anne Perry.

Syndetics book coverThe woman in the window / A.J. Finn.
“It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening… Anna Fox lives alone — a recluse in her New York City home, drinking too much wine, watching old movies… and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move next door: a father, a mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble — and its shocking secrets are laid bare.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like A.J. Finn? Megan Abbott, Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn.

Syndetics book coverDaughter of the forest / Juliet Marillier.
“Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac. But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Juliet Marillier? Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robin Hobb, Russell Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Knox, Helen Lowe.

Syndetics book coverThe Denniston rose / Jenny Pattrick.
“The bleak coal-mining of Denniston, isolated high on a plateau above the West Coast, is a place that makes or breaks those who live there. Into this chaotic community come five-year-old Rose and her mother. Set in the 1880s, this is the story of a spirited child who remains a survivor.” (Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Jenny Pattrick? Catherine Cookson, Rosamunde Pilcher, Adriana Trigiani, Mary Wesley, Winston Graham.

Syndetics book coverJitterbug perfume / Tom Robbins.
“This story begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time). It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.” (Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Tom Robbins? Paul Auster, Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Letham, David Sedaris, Haruki Murakami.

Syndetics book coverShelter in place / Nora Roberts.
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. Then the shooters arrived.The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Nora Roberts? Susan Mallery, Julie Garwood, Sandra Brown, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Lowell.

Syndetics book coverA spool of blue thread: a novel / Anne Tyler.
“‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…’ This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of special-ness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Anne Tyler? Annie Proulx, Sally Rooney, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Donna Tartt. 

Stuff your eyes with wonder: Our Science Fiction showcase picks

Foundryside book cover

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953).
This month’s science fiction showcase picks are full of worlds of wonder and feasts of treats, including sumptuous, gorgeous, beautifully-illustrated new editions of both Ursula K. Le Guin’s seminal Wizard of Earthsea series and Frank Herbert’s Dune Trilogy, as well as a new work by one of the science fiction world’s most beloved writers Mercedes Lackey called The Bartered Brides!

Syndetics book coverThe books of Earthsea / Ursula K. Le Guin ; illustrated by Charles Vess.
“Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature–they have received prestigious accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike. Now for the first time ever, they’re all together in one volume–including the early short stories, Le Guin’s Earthsea Revisioned Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story, never before printed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bartered brides / Mercedes Lackey.
“The threat of Moriarty is gone – but so is Sherlock Holmes. Even as they mourn the loss of their friend and colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty’s network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hire the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great Dune trilogy / Frank Herbert.
“Herbert’s evocative, epic tales are set on the desert planet Arrakis, the focus for a complex political and military struggle with galaxy-wide repercussions. Arrakis is the source of spice, a mind-enhancing drug which makes interstellar travel possible; it is the most valuable substance in the galaxy. When Duke Atreides and his family take up court there, they fall into a trap set by the Duke’s bitter rival, Baron Harkonnen. The Duke is poisoned, but his wife and her son Paul escape to the vast and arid deserts of Arrakis, which have given the planet its nickname of Dune.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe consuming fire / John Scalzi.
The Interdependency–humanity’s interstellar empire–is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded. Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth–or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMagefall / Stephen Aryan.
“When magic is feared, the mages must learn to fight for themselves in this powerful sequel to the standout epic fantasy Mageborn by Stephen Aryan.
The land is in turmoil. Mages are hunted by men and gods alike. Even their own kind betray each other in the name of safety and protection.
With their last refuge fallen, two young mages must conspire against a god to show the world that their abilities aren’t a curse; they are the only way to ensure lasting peace.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFoundryside : a novel / Robert Jackson Bennett.Foundryside: A Novel
“In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself. Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle. But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. To have a chance at surviving–and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way–Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little shop of found things / Paula Brackston.
“Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past. When she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more. It is while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century where it has its origins. And there she discovers there is an injustice in its history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

“Okay Marlowe,” I said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy.” – Our choice of December’s mystery showcase books.

“Okay Marlowe,” I said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like putting your pants on.” Philip Marlowe in Murder My Sweet (1944).

Whether your taste in mystery novels is for the grimy rain-washed streets of downtown American cities or the more genteel settings of rose-covered cottages in the idyllic British countryside, there’s murder afoot in this month’s mysteries showcase. There’s a new book by Janet Evanovich called Look Alive Twenty-Five as well as other gems including the latest V.I. Warshawski novel from Sara Paretsky called Shell Game. So why not settle into a comfortable Chesterfield chair (or its equivalent) and indulge yourself in a fine mystery read!

Syndetics book coverAgatha Raisin and the dead ringer / M. C. Beaton.
The team of bells at St. Ethelred church is the pride and glory of the idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna, together with the most dedicated bell ringers in the whole of England: the twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin. As the village gets ready for the Bishop’s visit, the twins get overly-excited at the prospect of ringing the special peal of bells created for the occasion and start bullying the other bell ringers, forcing them to rehearse and rehearse . When the twins’ home is broken into one night and Millicent is found dead, struck from a hammer blow, suspicion falls onto the lawyer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Snapshot of Murder (Kate Shackleton Mysterie) [paperback]
“Yorkshire, 1928. Indomitable sleuth Kate Shackleton is taking a well-deserved break from her detective work and indulging in her other passion: photography. When her local Photographic Society proposes an outing, Kate jumps at the chance to visit Haworth and Stanbury, in the heart of Brontë country, the setting for Wuthering Heights. But when an obnoxious member of their party is murdered, the group is thrown into disarray. Is the murderer amongst them, or did the loud-mouthed Tobias have more enemies than they might have imagined?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark sacred night / Michael Connelly.
“Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift — and she wants in. The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLook alive twenty-five / Janet Evanovich.
“There’s nothing like a good deli, and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World-famous for its pastrami, cole slaw, and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, and the only clue in each case is one shoe that’s been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it’s a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they’d better figure out what’s going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sentence is death / Anthony Horowitz.
“‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…’ These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce , found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite, to be precise. Odd, considering he didn’t drink. And why those words? And, most importantly, which of the mans many, many enemies did the deed? Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Katharina code / Jørn Lier Horst ; translated by Anne Bruce.
“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. But now Martin Haugen is missing too. As Wisting prepares to investigate another missing persons case he’s visited by a detective from Oslo. Adrian Stiller is convinced Martin’s involved in another disappearance of a young woman and asks Wisting to close the net around Martin. But is Wisting playing cat and mouse with a dangerous killer or a grief-stricken husband who cannot lay the past to rest?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA missed murder / Michael Jecks.
“London, 1555. Queen Mary is newly married to Philip II of Spain – and not everyone is happy about the alliance. The kingdom is divided between those loyal to Catholic Mary and those who support her half-sister, Lady Elizabeth. Former cutpurse turned paid assassin Jack Blackjack has more immediate matters to worry about. Having been ordered to kill a man, he determines to save him instead. But Jack defies his spymaster at his peril.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShell game : a V.I. Warshawski novel / Sara Paretsky.
When V. I Warshawski gets word that her closest friend and mentor Lotty Herschel’s nephew has become a suspect in a murder, the legendary detective will do everything she can to save him. The cops found Felix Herschel’s name and phone number on the unknown victim’s remains, but Felix insists he doesn’t know why. As Vic digs deeper, she discovers that the dead man was obsessed with Middle Eastern archeology. The first clue in a bewildering case that leads to a stolen artifact and a shadowy network of international criminals.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Christmas revelation : a novel / Anne Perry.
Christmas is coming and the streets of London are full of festive cheer. As young Worm returns to his home at the Portpool Lane clinic, he encounters the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and, spellbound, he follows her until she is dragged away by two evil-looking men. Convinced that she is in grave danger, Worm begs Squeaky Robinson to help him track her down. But Elouise is embroiled with dangerous criminals who want information that only she can tell. They will stop at nothing to get what they want and, with Christmas day fast approaching, Worm and Squeaky must conjure up a daring plan to help Elouise before it is too late.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaigret and the Saturday caller / Georges Simenon ; translated by Siân Reynolds.
“When Maigret returns home at the end of a long day, he is surprised to find a tense man named Léonard Planchon waiting on his doorstep with an unusual problem. Planchon wants to kill his wife, or perhaps his wife and her lover, who for two years have been making him sleep on a cot in the dining room. He has even worked out a plan to hide their bodies in concrete. Uneasy and hoping to stop the man before he goes too far, Maigret must investigate a murder that has not yet been committed and uncover the truth behind this peculiar ménage à trois.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A feast of fiction awaits you in our monthly fiction showcase!

A Keeper book cover

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien.

There’s an abundance of treasures and rich pickings in our December fiction showcase. These include Huia Short Stories 12, a fabulous edition of the Māori fiction collection of short stories now in its twelfth outing, From the Ashes, a tale of friendship and family set in fifties Auckland from Deborah Challinor, TV celebrity Graham Norton’s witty A Keeper and another scintillating Tudor tome from C.J. Sansom called Tombland. So why not enjoy the feast and indulge yourself in a great read!

Syndetics book coverFrom the ashes / Deborah Challinor.
“A captivating story of family and friendship through one decade of incredible change. In 1950s Auckland things are changing – and fast. Women are joining the workforce in numbers, whitegoods are readily available and the age of rock’n’ roll has arrived. Allie Manaia works the Elizabeth Arden counter at Smith and Caughey’s. It’s been two years since the Dunbar and Jones fire, where some of her friends perished, but she still has nightmares. From the Ashes follows the fortunes of the women of three families through one decade of incredible change.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn island Christmas / Jenny Colgan.
“Christmas on the remote Scottish island of Mure is bleak, stark – and incredibly beautiful. It’s a time for hunkering down, getting cosy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram with the people you love – unless, of course, you’re accidentally pregnant to your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In what should be the season of peace and goodwill on earth, will Joel think Flora is a bearer of glad tidings? Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for an unforgettable Christmas.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wych elm / Tana French.
“For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable. One night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at the family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed birds / Mohammed Hanif.
“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.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHuia short stories 12 : contemporary Māori fiction.Server ErrorYour request could not be completed.
“Here are the best short stories and novel extracts from the Pikihuia Awards for Māori writers 2017 as judged by Whiti Hereaka, Paula Morris, Poia Rewi amd Rawinia Higgins. The book contains the stories from the finalists for Best Short Story written in English, Best Short Story written in te reo Māori and Best Novel Extract categories. This writing competition, held every two years, is organised by the Maori Literature Trust and Huia Publishers as a way to promote Māori writers and their work. The awards and the collection of finalists’ fiction celebrate Māori writing and bring new writers to light.” — Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverBerta Isla / Javier Marías ; translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Berta Isla and Tomás Nevinson meet in Madrid. Young and in love, they quickly decide to spend their lives together – never suspecting that they will grow to be total strangers, both living under the shadow of disappearances.Tomás, half-Spanish and half-English, has an extraordinary gift for languages and accents. Leaving Berta to study at Oxford, he catches the interest of a certain government agency, and its mysterious agent, Bertram Tupra. Tomás is determined to evade the agent’s attentions but his fate is sealed by a series of escalating events that will affect the rest of his life – and that of his beloved Berta. Finishing his time at Oxford, he returns to Madrid to marry her, already knowing that the life they planned has been lost forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA keeper / Graham Norton.
“Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland after her mother’s death, intent only on wrapping up that dismal part of her life. There is nothing here for her; she wonders if there ever was. The house of her childhood is stuffed full of useless things, her mother’s presence already fading. And perhaps, had she not found the small stash of letters, the truth would never have come to light. 40 years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet but for the tireless wind that circles her as she hurries further into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMelmoth / Sarah Perry.
“Twenty years ago Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But the sheltered life she has crafted for herself is about to change. A strange manuscript has come into her possession, and its contents have the power to unravel every strand of her fragile safety net. It is filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTombland / C.J. Sansom.Tombland
“Summer, 1549.Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . . The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector’s prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArchangel’s Prophecy / Singh, Nalini.Archangel’s Prophecy
“Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind . . . and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill. Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late, and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world. This time, survival may not be possible . . . not even for the consort of an archangel.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

“I laughed so hard my head nearly fell off.”- Our Selection of the World’s funniest novels.

Cats Cradle book cover

Humour is such a subjective thing, some people love pitch black satire, some warm and cuddly jokes; and others just plain zany, oddness. We have selected from the broad church of humourous books a huge list of what we regard as some of the funniest novels ever written. From the caustic dark humour of Irvine Welsh to the timeless humour of P.G.Wodehouse from the Anti war classic Catch 22, by Joseph Heller to the seminal The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. We are sure to have a book for you, no matter what tickles your funny bone. Enjoy!

Good omens : the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch by
Pratchett, Terry
“The world is going to end next Saturday night. Just before dinner. Unfortunately, the Antichrist has been misplaced. According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the AntiChrist (which is a shame, really, as he’s a nice kid). There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s brilliantly dark and funny take on mankind’s final judgment. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Right ho, Jeeves / Wodehouse, P. G.
“The trouble which begins with Gussie Fink-Nottle wandering the streets of London dressed as Mephistopheles reaches its awful climax in his drunken speech to the boys of Market Snodsbury Grammar School. For Bertie Wooster’s old friend has fallen in love with Madeline Bassett and, as usual, makes a hash of the affair until Jeeves comes to the rescue. In the meantime, Jeeves must also solve the mystery of the white mess jacket, while sorting out the lives of Bertie’s cousin Angela, her mother, and her mother’s French chef. In short, a normal working day for that prince among gentlemen’s gentlemen.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Three men in a boat ; Three men on the bummel / Jerome, Jerome K.
Three Men in a Boat describes a comic expedition by middle-class Victorians up the Thames to Oxford, and provides brilliant snap-shots of London’s playground in the late 1880s. Three Men on the Bummel records a similar escapade some ten years later, when the trio cycle through the Black Forest, at the height of the new bicycling craze. Both novels are depicted with irresistibly genial humour by Jerome K Jerome.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy : a trilogy in four parts / Adams, Douglas
“A one-volume edition charting Arthur Dent’s odyssey through space. Whether you are well versed in the antics of Arthur Dent, a mild mannered Earthman plucked from his planet seconds before it’s demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, and Ford Perfect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy posing as an out-of-work actor, or are hitching a ride for the first time, this is the book that has everything you’ll need to know about anything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Cat’s cradle / Vonnegut, Kurt
Cat’s Cradle is Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it.” (Catalogue)

Bridget Jones’s diary : a novel / Fielding, Helen
Bridget Jones’s Diary charts a devastatingly self-aware, hilarious year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton. Here is the daily chronicle of her permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement – a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1 1/2 inches, visit the gym three times a week not merely to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and not fall for any of the following: misogynists, megalomaniacs, people with girlfriends or wives, alcoholics, workaholics, chauvinists, or perverts. And learn to program the VCR.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Skinny dip / Hiaasen, Carl
“After her shady marine scientist husband Chaz tries to kill her, Joey Perrone is saved by former cop Mick Stranahan. Chaz Perrone might be the only marine scientist in the world who doesn’t know which way the Gulf Stream runs. But he’s just found a way to make a fortune out of the Florida Everglades, and he’s damned if anyone’s going to stop him. So when he suspects that his wife, Joey, is going to get in his way, he takes her on an expensive anniversary cruise and pushes her overboard into the night-dark Atlantic. Unfortunately for Chaz, Joey survives the fall.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Catch-22 / Heller, Joseph
Catch-22 took the war novel genre to a new level, shocking us with its clever and disturbing style. Set in a World War II American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of John Yossarian, who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. Yossarian is also trying to decode the meaning of Catch-22, a mysterious regulation that proves that insane people are really the sanest, while the supposedly sensible people are the true madmen. And this novel is full of madmen . One of the funniest–and most celebrated–books of all time.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

“Is it a two or three pipe problem?” Our Selection of the Best Newly Acquired Mystery Novels

The Colours of the all the Cattle book cover

“It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.”

― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League

Whatever your taste in crime/mystery books, be it novels from the golden age of crime or more hard hitting dark gritty realist tales, you’re sure to find something in this selection of showcased mystery novels. The Tartan Noir sub genre of the crime novel world include the Edinburgh located The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry, a new piece from the ever popular Alexander McCall Smith called The Colours of All the Cattle, and The Blood Road by Stuart MacBride. So whether it is a one, two or three pipe problem sit back look out the Persian slipper and relax into a great mystery read.

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

Death at sea : Montalbano’s early cases / Camilleri, Andrea
Death at Sea, in which the alleged manslaughter of an engineer upon a fishing trawler leads Inspector Montalbano to uncover an even more sinister crime, Andrea Camilleri takes his readers through eight cunning cases from the Vigàtan police files. Starting with an arson attack on a hotel which leaves the distraught owner as the chief suspect; to the mysterious case of a woman who goes missing in an underpass with a million lira in her handbag; to a threat on Montalbano’s own life, as an anonymous motorcyclist takes a shot at the detective.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe spotted dog / Kerry Greenwood.
“Corinna Chapman, baker extraordinaire, talented sleuth, stalwart friend and lover, is back! When a distraught Scottish veteran from Afghanistan is knocked unconscious, waking up to find his beloved ex-service dog missing, Corinna and her lover, Daniel, find themselves inextricably drawn into the machinations of a notorious underworld gang of drug runners. Corinna and Daniel need to pull together all the strings to find the connections between their wandering Scottish veteran, his kidnapped dog, a student dramatic society that’s moved into Corinna’s building, burglaries, and the threatening notes that begin to mysteriously appear in her apartment.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLethal white / Robert Galbraith.
“When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic. Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott – once his assistant, now a partner in the agency – set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe way of all flesh / Ambrose Parry.
“Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder.In the city’s Old Town a number of young women have been found dead, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. Across the city in the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn a house of lies / Ian Rankin.
“In a house of lies, everyone has something to hide.
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – both for his family and the police – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched. Everyone has secrets… Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now – after a decade without answers – it’s time for the truth. Nobody is innocent.
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe blood road / Stuart MacBride.
Some things just won’t stay buried… Logan McRae’s personal history is hardly squeaky clean, but now that he works for Professional Standards he’s policing his fellow officers. When Detective Inspector Bell turns up dead in the driver’s seat of a crashed car it’s a shock to everyone. Because Bell died two years ago, they buried him. Or they thought they did. As an investigation is launched into Bell’s stabbing, Logan digs into his past. Where has he been all this time? Why did he disappear? And what’s so important that he felt the need to come back from the dead? But the deeper Logan digs, the more bones he uncovers – and there are people out there who’ll kill to keep those skeletons buried. If Logan can’t stop them, DI Bell won’t be the only one to die.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark sacred night / Michael Connelly.
“Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat — known in LAPD slang as “the late show” — and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift -and she wants in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe colours of all the cattle / Alexander McCall Smith.
Mma Ramotswe’s friend will persuade her to stand for election to the City Council. ‘We need women like her in politics,’ Mma Potokwani says, ‘instead of having the same old men every time…’
To be elected, Mma Ramotswe must have a platform and some policies. She will have to canvas opinion. She will have to get Mma Makutsi’s views. Her slogan is ‘I can’t promise anything – but I shall do my best’. Her intention is to halt the construction of the Big Fun Hotel, a dubious, flashy business near a graveyard – an act that many consider to be disrespectful. Mma Ramotswe will take the campaign as far as she can, but lurking around the corner, as ever, is the inextinguishable Violet Sephotho.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

New Zealand’s rich and glorious fiction contributions to the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

scarlet tides book cover

Perhaps we in New Zealand are best known for our noble and glorious celluloid contributions to the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy, but New Zealand also has a rich and very diverse community of Fantasy and Science Fiction writers. In this blog we aim to shine a light on just a few of those authors. Enjoy!

Dreamhunter / Knox, Elizabeth
“Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as the Place, where only a select group of people can go. These people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy – or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside the Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father and reveals how the government has used dreams to control an ever-growing population of convicts and political dissenters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Flame of Sevenwaters / Marillier, Juliet
“Going home can be the hardest thing of all… When Maeve, twenty year old daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, accompanies a skittish horse back to Erin, she must confront her demons. For Maeve carries the legacy of a childhood fire in her crippled hands. She has lived with her aunt in Britain for ten years, developing a special gift for gentling difficult animals. Then Maeve arrives home to find Sevenwaters in turmoil.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The scarlet tides / Hair, David
“Return to Urte, a land in chaos: where the smallest choice may save or damn the world. The Moontide has come, and a scarlet tide of Rondian legions is flooding into the East, slaughtering and pillaging in the name of Emperor Constant. But the Scytale of Corineus, the source of ultimate magical power, has slipped through the emperor’s fingers. His ruthless Inquisitors are desperately seeking the artefact, before it falls into the hands of those who would bring down the Empire. But there are some who have pledged to end the cycle of war and restore peace to Urte. They are the unlikeliest of heroes: a failed mage, a gypsy and a lowly market-girl. As East and West clash more violently than ever before, Urte will discover that love, loyalty and truth can be forged into weapons as deadly as swords and magic.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Burnt ice / Wheeler, Steve
“Humans and hybrids and strange new creatures fight for survival on Earth and across the galaxies. A superb space adventure from a fresh new voice. In our future worlds the Administration rules the Sphere of Humankind, the Games Board sanctions and funds wars and conflicts, and the Haulers’ Collective roams the space routes like the caravanners of old. Marko and his crew of fellow soldier-engineers are sent to investigate an unknown planet. When they encounter strange artefacts and an intelligent but aggressive squid species, they are forced to embark on a perilous journey far from the Sphere.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Phoenix rising : a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novel / Ballantine, Pip
“These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences- the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling- will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest…and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Twilight of the dead / Bishop, David
“Bishop’s alternative history trilogy comes to a terrifying climax in this final novel. April 1945: as German and Russian troops fight desperate battles through the streets of Berlin, a new threat rises from the forbidding mountains of Transylvania–an undead army of Vampyr warriors. Original. April 1945: The war’s end is close as German and Russian troops fight desperate battles through the streets of Berlin. But a new threat rises from the forbidding mountains of Transylvania, an undead army of Vampyr warriors. As the war in Europe reaches its brutal climax, the bloody fight for mankind’s future begins!” (Catalogue)

The right hand of God / Kirkpatrick, Russell
“The conclusion of a superb feat of epic storytelling.Can the Company save their world? The Company and the Arkhimm have scattered far and wide in their quest to warn Faltha of imminent invasion by the armies of the Destroyer. They now have possession of the Jugom Ark, the flaming Arrow of legend which, it is believed, will defeat their enemy. When Leith carries the Ark into the city of Instruere, thousands of people flock to him to fight for Faltha in the coming war. But Leith is finding it difficult to accept people’s faith in him and his role as custodian of the Ark.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Star sailors / McNaughton, James
“In the not too distant future, the effects of climate change devastate the world and New Zealand becomes a haven for elites. When a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks gain entry into Wellington’s most exclusive gated community, it appears their troubles are over. But they find themselves divided over the identity of Sam Starsailor, an alien prophet who has washed up on a beach near New Hokitika and is said to bring warnings from another planet. The couple’s housewarming party becomes an all-night carnival, and revolution gathers beyond the gate.” (Catalogue)