Our selection of the best new contemporary fiction

We are very proud to present our latest selection from our new fiction arrivals. In this month’s picks we have something to suit a wide variety of tastes from a new work by Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis de Bernieres to a new novel by Kate Mosse, and a fantastic new work by Patchwork Planet author Anne Tyler titled Clock Dance. We hope you find something in our top picks for this month that you will truly enjoy.

Syndetics book coverWhirlaway : the great American loony bin, horseplaying & record-collecting novel / Poe Ballantine.
“On the run, he holes up in a sheltered barrio on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean owned by his wealthy but unsympathetic father. Here he meets Sweets, the telepathic dog, laments the loss of Sofia, his madhouse lover, and plays the horses at the Del Mar Racetrack. Eventually he meets up with an old friend, Shelly Hubbard, a fellow horseplayer, record collector/dealer, and hardcore loner, who tells him about his brother, Donny, dead at the age of eighteen from a tragic dive off a thirty-foot La Jolla sea cliff known as the Clam.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoy swallows universe / Trent Dalton.
“Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSo much life left over / Louis de Bernieres.
“Rosie and Daniel have moved to Ceylon with their little daughter to start a new life at the dawn of the 1920s, attempting to put the trauma of the First World War behind them, and to rekindle a marriage that gets colder every day. However, even in the lush plantation hills it is hard for them to escape the ties of home and the yearning for fulfilment that threatens their marriage. Back in England, Rosie’s three sisters are dealing with different challenges in their searches for family, purpose and happiness. These are precarious times, and they find themselves using unconventional means to achieve their desires. Around them the world is changing, and when Daniel finds himself in Germany he witnesses events taking a dark and forbidding turn.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVarina : a novel / Charles Frazier.
“In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War.
Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history–culpable regardless of her intentions. The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMotherhood / Sheila Heti.
“In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation. In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe very marrow of our bones / Christine Higdon.
“On a miserable November day in 1967, two women disappear from a working-class town on the Fraser River. The community is thrown into panic, with talk of drifters and murderous husbands. But no one can find a trace of Bette Parsons or Alice McFee. Even the egg seller, Doris Tenpenny, a woman to whom everyone tells their secrets, hears nothing. Ten-year-old Lulu Parsons discovers something, though: a milk-stained note her mother, Bette, left for her father on the kitchen table. Wally, it says, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life. Lulu tells no one, and months later she buries the note in the woods. At the age of ten, she starts running — and forgetting — lurching through her unraveled life, using the safety of solitude and detachment until, at fifty, she learns that she is not the only one who carries a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be famous / Caitlin Moran.
“I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly. My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs Hell — as rockstars do. And my new best friend — the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks — has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe burning chambers / Kate Mosse.
“Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE. But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClock dance / Anne Tyler.
“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.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUpstate / James Wood.
“In the years since his daughter Vanessa moved to America to become a professor of philosophy, Alan Querry has never been to visit. He has been too busy at home in northern England, holding together his business as a successful property developer. His younger daughter, Helen–a music executive in London–hasn’t gone, either, and the two sisters, close but competitive, have never quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce and the early death of their mother. But when Vanessa’s new boyfriend sends word that she has fallen into a severe depression and that he’s worried for her safety, Alan and Helen fly to New York and take the train to Saratoga Springs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Nobel prize winning author VS Naipaul dies aged 85

Nobel prize winning author V.S. Naipaul died over the weekend. He was acknowledged by all as a master story teller with a sharp eye for the human condition, but he was also a highly controversial figure — his statements on gender, race and Islamic culture were often extreme. He leaves behind a challenging and complicated body of work, his acknowledged masterpiece being A House for Mrs Biswas (link and synopsis below).

You can read obituaries for V.S. Naipaul at the links below:

Syndetics book coverA house for Mr Biswas / V.S. Naipaul ; with an introduction by Karl Miller.A House for Mr. Biswas
“In the comic masterpiece which established him one of the greatest writers in the English language, Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New comics and graphic novels

Satellite Falling book cover

Illustrators and storytellers have poured their talents into graphic novels, telling of personal stories in response to terrorism and surgery; grand narratives, mysteries and bursts of imagination that have created worlds. Wellington City Libraries has sifted through and selected a swathe for our shelves. This month has translated international talents, compilations of miniseries presented in one volume, next chapters of current series and a republished title from Aotearoa New Zealand. It was tricky to choose from all our new material, below is a selection of highlights:

The ghost fleet [1] : the whole goddamned thing / Cates, Donny
“When you need to transport the world’s most valuable, dangerous, or secretive cargo, you don’t call just any trucking service… you call The Ghost Fleet. But when one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a vast conspiracy that threatens not just him, but possibly the entire planet!” (Catalogue)
Previously 1-8 episodes now presented in one volume.

Green almonds : letters from Palestine = Les amandes vertes / Hermans, Anaële
Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine is a personal look into a complex reality, through the prism of the experience of a young woman writing letters to her sister about her feelings and adventures in the occupied territories. Green Almonds is an intimate story with big implications. A young woman discovers a country, works there, makes friends, lives a love story, and is confronted with the plight of the Palestinians, the violence on a daily basis that we see on our screens and read in our newspapers.” (Catalogue)

Briggs Land. Volume 2, Lone wolves / Wood, Brian
“Grace Briggs is now the leader of the largest antigovernment secessionist group in the United States, having outmaneuvered both Federal law enforcement and an attempted takeover by white power stormtroopers. But troubles at home remain, and when a chance encounter with innocent civilians blows up into an ugly hostage situation, the privacy and integrity of Briggs Land is compromised. Meanwhile, Jim Briggs, humiliated at losing control of the family, seeks revenge.” (Catalogue)

Hicksville : a comic book / Horrocks, Dylan
“World-famous cartoonist Dick Burger has earned millions and become the most powerful man in the comics industry. However, behind his rapid rise to success, there lies a dark and terrible secret, as biographer Leonard Batts discovers when he visits Burger’s hometown in remote New Zealand. A rich, and captivating book, one of the best graphic novels of the past decade.” (Catalogue)

Godshaper / Spurrier, Simon
“In 1958, the laws of physics stopped working. But an alternative was provided, and people found themselves each accompanied by their own personal god, the new fuel and currency of the world. Varying in shape, size, and influence, these companion deities changed everything. Ennay is a man without a god. Bud is a god without a human. Together, they might just survive.” (Catalogue)

About Betty’s boob / Cazot, Vero
“She lost her left breast, her job, and her guy. She does not know it yet, but this is the best day of her life. An inspiring and surprisingly comedic tale of loss and acceptance told largely through silent sequential narrative.” (Catalogue)

Out of nothing / Locke, Daniel
“Spanning millennia, Daniel Locke’s ambitious graphic novel explores humanity’s inherent ‘dreaming mind’ and its impact on our world. Surreal sequences take us from Gutenberg’s printing press to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web via Picasso, Einstein, Grandmaster Flash and more. Locke shows hour our basic instinct to observe, record and connect has formed the basis for all human invention and progress.” (Catalogue)

Satellite falling / Horton, Steve
“She’s the only human on an alien world… and that’s the least of her problems. A sci-fi series filled with grit and wit. She fled a fallen Earth, her lover dead. Now, Lilly makes her way as a cabbie by day and a bounty hunter by night as the sole human on SATELLITE. When Lilly’s past catches up with her, it’s going to take her and an unlikely band of weird aliens to set things right. What has Lilly gotten herself into?” (Catalogue)

Strong female protagonist. Book two / Mulligan, Brennan Lee
“Alison Green used to be a superhero. With unlimited strength and invulnerablility she fought crime with a group of other teens under the alter ego Mega Girl. All that changed after an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch-enemy, who showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy that made battling giant robots seem suddenly unimportant. Now Alison is going to college in New York City, trying to find ways to actually help the world while making friends and getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past however and trouble comes in the form of mysterious murders ex-teammates with a grudge, robots with a straing sense of humor, an inconvenient crush, a contankerous professor, and many different kinds of people who think they know the best way to be a hero.” (Catalogue)

And from Mike Mignola, the Hellboy short story collection is featured below:

Hellboy : the complete short stories. Volume 1 / Mignola, Michael
“In 1994 Mike Mignola released the first Hellboy series, Seed of Destruction, as Hellboy faced his supposed destiny as Beast of the Apocalypse. Before that, he’d spent fifty years fighting monsters as a somewhat carefree member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The Complete Short Stories volumes 1 & 2 present those early adventures. The Crooked Man and Double Feature of Evil, both of which earned Mignola and his legendary collaborator Richard Corben Eisner Awards, are collected with the complete Hellboy in Mexico saga, featuring collaborations with Corben, Mick McMahon, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, as well as one of Mignola’s early masterpiece, The Corpse.” (Catalogue)

Recent Mystery picks

American By Day book cover

The sleuthing world of fiction is well represented this month with a superb crime “line up” of books. The golden age of British crime is wonderfully evoked In Andrew Wilsons A Different Kind Of Evil which has crime writer Agatha Christie herself as the detective in this fourth wall breaking tome. Whilst on a different crime track, the wonderful Rita Mae Brown and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown solve another fur lined mystery in Probable Claws. So put on your deerstalker, unravel a yarn and settle into a great mystery read.

Syndetics book coverProbable claws / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown ; illustrated by Michael Gellatly.
“With the New Year just around the corner, winter has transformed the cozy Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia, into a living snow globe. It’s the perfect setting for Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen to build a new work shed designed by her dear friend, local architect Gary Gardner. But the natural serenity is shattered when out of the blue, right in front of Harry and Deputy Cynthia Cooper, and in broad daylight, Gary is shot to death by a masked motorcyclist. Outraged by the brazen murder, Harry begins to burrow into her friend’s past–and unearths a pattern of destructive greed reaching far back into Virginia’s post-Revolutionary history. When Harry finds incriminating evidence, the killer strikes again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurder at the Grand Raj Palace / Vaseem Khan.
“For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj. The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder… When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Inspector Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican by day / Derek B. Miller.
“She knew it was a weird place. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic. Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, reverberate in every aspect of daily life. Working with–or, if necessary, against–the police, she must negotiate the local political minefields and navigate the backwoods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before events escalate further.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRage / Zygmunt Miłoszewski ; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
“All eyes are on famous prosecutor Teodor Szacki when he investigates a skeleton discovered at a construction site in the idyllic Polish city of Olsztyn. Old bones come as no shock to anyone in this part of Poland, but it turns out these remains are fresh, the flesh chemically removed. Szacki questions the dead man’s wife, only to be left with a suspicion she’s hiding something. Then another victim surfaces–a violent husband, alive but maimed–giving rise to a theory: someone’s targeting domestic abusers. And as new clues bring the murderer closer to those Szacki holds dear, he begins to understand the terrible rage that drives people to murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIncorruptible / Barbara Nadel.
“In the backstreets of Istanbul, a young woman’s body is found. Dumped in a dustbin and covered in cut flowers, she is the victim of a frenzied and vicious stabbing. Inspector Ikmen discovers that the woman was well known in Istanbul. Newspapers had been calling her the blessed woman; cured of cancer in a Christian miracle and a proclaimed messenger of the Virgin Mary. These controversial claims had made her fierce enemies in the predominantly Islamic community and she had unwittingly stirred up divisions amongst the Christians of the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrisis in the Cotswolds / Rebecca Tope.
“Thea and Drew have been married for a year and are settled in the village of Broad Campden, but Thea is chafing at the domestic routines she is expected to devote herself to, missing the novelty and adventure that house-sitting used to bring. When a routine burial exposes the secrets of the deceased, Drew finds himself caught in the middle of a family feud, in which he feels he is on the wrong side, and Thea’s inquisitiveness and penchant for solving crimes draws her in too. With another crisis at Drew’s other business leaving him with a profound dilemma and Thea struggling against the charismatic charms of a new man, can their marriage survive this latest Cotswold drama?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhosts of the past / Marco Vichi ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli and Oonagh Stransky.
“Florence, 1967. It is winter, and one year has passed since the historic and devastating flood of the Arno, though the memories of that day still linger with the stains on the city walls. The anniversary of the flood brings with it a new case for Inspector Bordelli. A local wealthy industrialist – fiercely loved and respected by everyone he knew – has been found murdered in his grand villa in the Fiesole hills, and the killer has left no trace. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
In January 1927 – and still recovering from the harrowing circumstances surrounding her disappearance a month earlier – Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secrets. The famous writer has to use her novelist’s talent for plotting to outwit an enemy who possesses a very different kind of evil.” (Catalogue)

A few recommendations for lovers of Suicide Squad

The Victories book cover

In this post, which is part of our series of comic recommended readings, we are going to explore some graphic works that have some sort of connection visually, thematically or character based to one of the comic world’s most popular and enduring creations, Suicide Squad, so if you already like Suicide Squad why not try the following:

Syndetics book coverSuicide Squad : the official movie novelization / based on the Warner Bros. Pictures film written by David Ayer ; based on characters from DC comics ; novelization by Marv Wolfman.
“Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous imprisoned super criminals, provide them the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them to defeat an enigmatic, unstoppable enemy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecret Six. Volume 1, Villains united / Gail Simone, writer ; Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks, Brad Walker, pencillers ; Wade Von Grawbadger [and 4 others], inkers.
“Collecting the series that led into INFINITE CRISIS! Six of justice’s deadliest enemies band together to start a revolution. Together, they want to take a stand to stop the super-heroic community from tampering with their minds and to prove how deadly they can be! But not everyone agrees to this agenda. Six rogues are recruited by the enigmatic Mockingbird, charged with opposing the Society and given assignments to thwart their rivals and even help their enemies. Who is Mockingbird? Could it be one of the six?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Paybacks. Volume 1 / script by Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal ; art by Geoff Shaw.
“Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements, robotic suits or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like IOUs. Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes like Night Knight and Miss Adventure, here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs. But now the Paybacks have discovered a fate far worse than debt: a murderer is on the loose. and it just may be one of their own.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Victories [1] : touched / story and art, Michael Avon Oeming.
“Not long from now, all that will stand between you and evil are THE VICTORIES: heroes sworn to protect us from crime, corruption, and the weird designer drug known as Float. As one member hits the streets looking for blood, he discovers himself touched by a painful past through the powers of a psychic. Will this trauma cause him to self-destruct or to rejoin the good fight? Collects the five-issue miniseries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJustice League vs. Suicide Squad / Joshua Williamson, Tim Seeley, Rob Williams, Si Spurrier, writers ; Jason Fabok, Tony S. Daniel, Jesus Merino, Fernando Pasarin [and fifteen others], artists.
“This was a day that Amanda Waller–the government liaison in charge of Task Force X–always knew would come: the Justice League discovers the existence of the Suicide Squad! The government-sponsored black-ops team of super-villains with bombs implanted in their brains is obviously a dealbreaker for the World’s Greatest Superheroes. But you can bet the Wall and her gang won’t go down without the fight to end all fights!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Top picks from new Science Fiction arrivals

A Big Ship... book cover

The wild and wonderful world of science fiction writing is well represented in this month’s latest acquisitions. From Dan Abnett’s The Founding, to Mercedes Lackey’s A Scandal in Battersea there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this month’s latest batch of books. Take yourself into this wondrous cosmic universe of words!

Syndetics book coverThe founding / Dan Abnett.
“In the Chaos-infested Sabbat System, the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum – more commonly known as the Imperial Guard – stand shoulder to shoulder as they counter an invasion by heretical forces. Amongst the defenders of the Imperium are the troops of the Tanith First-and-Only, a displaced regiment forced to flee their home planet before it succumbed to the unrelenting assault of Chaos. Nicknamed ‘the Ghosts’, their specialist scouting role sees them thrown into the thickest of the fighting. Led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments and the lethal firepower of the enemy if they are to have any hope of achieving victory over the forces of Chaos.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of hidden things / Francesco Dimitri.
“Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up. A visit to his house increases the friends’ worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can’t go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss’s daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Quanderhorn xperimentations / Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall.
“England, 1952. A time of peace, regeneration and hope. A Golden Age. Unfortunately, it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn: a brilliant, maverick scientific genius with absolutely no moral compass. Assisted by a rag-tag crew – his part-insect “son” (reputedly ‘a major breakthrough in Artificial Stupidity’), a recovering amnesiac, a brilliant scientist with a half-clockwork brain, and a captured Martian hostage – he’ll save the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA scandal in Battersea / Mercedes Lackey.
“In this Victorian historical fantasy novel, a member of the famed Bloomsbury writers’ group attempts to conjure a doppelganger-an Earth Elemental Golem-to do his writing for him while he enjoys the London social scene. When a shadow image of himself knocks on his door some nights after his invocation, he lets it into the house thinking that his ritual has been a success, not realizing that the Golem is actually inhabited by the ghost of a murderous fiend-part Jack the Ripper and part Mr. Hyde.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOutcasts of order / L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
“Beltur, an Order mage, discovers he possesses frightening powers not seen for hundreds of years. With his new abilities, he survives the war in Elparta and saves the lives of all. However, victory comes with a price. His fellow mages now see him as a threat to be destroyed, and the local merchants want to exploit his power.
There’s only one way he can remain free and survive–he’s going to have to run.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSummerland / Hannu Rajaniemi.
“How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?
In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. But Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.
When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfterwar / Lilith Saintcrow.
“America has been devastated by a second civil war. The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins. One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA big ship at the edge of the universe / Alex White.
Firefly meets The Fast and the Furious Furious in this science fiction adventure series that follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to saving the universe.
A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Latest Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

The Bight Edge of the World cover

Read something great, intriguing, surprising or satisfying? Want to let other people know about it?

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.

Shelter in place / Roberts, Nora
“Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. 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.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “One word, ‘Brilliant’. There is a reason why Nora Roberts is an international bestseller, her books just keep getting better and better.” (no rating, but I guess it would be high!)

Ascendant / Campbell, Jack
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A good entry in a good series, although you get more out of it if you’ve red the books that come before it. A more thoughtful approach to political issues than is usual for military science fiction.” (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tane’s war / Weir, Brendaniel
“One lifetime, two battles. It’s 1953 and Briar is a dreamer living with his father in Pukekohe. His behaviour sees him sent to a training farm to be “turned into a man”. But the plan backfires when his arrival awakens feelings in fellow shearer, Aussie. Tane is the farm foreman and his Maori heritage sets him apart. Briar and Aussie threaten the walls Tane has built around his own secret past; walls created in the trenches of WW1. Tane is confronted with a choice. He cannot change history but maybe he can help change the future.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was excellent. It was very cleverly constructed with different interweaving timeframes and connected characters… It was also a sad eye-opener of cruel homophobia. Luckily views in Aotearoa are more tolerant now… (review abridged)” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The boat runner : a novel / Murphy, Devin
“Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was an excellent read for all mature readers… As an avid reader of books in the War genre I think this novel is among the very best with many unexpected twists and turns.  It certainly is thrilling” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kompromat / Johnson, Stanley
Kompromat reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A different slant on political events made this book very entertaining but at times a bit confusing. It told a reasonably plausible story which while not deep was thought provoking. Bang up to date too!”. (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the bright edge of the world / Ivey, Eowyn
“Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was great.  Brought an era to life with a present day contrast to a colonial era.” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist announced

The Water Cure book cover

…and the longlist includes a graphic novel!

So polish your reading glasses people, or if you’re not occularly enhanced, get comfy and prepare to join the judges’ dilemma of who wrote it better. Or with the most finesse, or used the most raw material. In short, which of these will be the one to grab you?

Author (country/territory) –  Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK) – Snap (Bantam Press)
Anna Burns (UK) –  Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Nick Drnaso (USA) – Sabrina (Granta Books) (Graphic Novel)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) – Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Guy Gunaratne (UK) – In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)
Daisy Johnson (UK) – Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) – The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Sophie Mackintosh (UK) – The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada) – Warlight (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) – The Overstory (Willian Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) – The Long Take (Picador)
Sally Rooney (Ireland) – Normal People (Faber & Faber)
Donal Ryan (Ireland) – From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

There are some clear favourites amongst Wellington readers.  Warlight by Michael Ondaatje has been one of July’s most popular library lends.  Ondaatje recently received the Golden Man Booker for The English Patient.


Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“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. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth.  A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)

The water cure / Mackintosh, Sophie
Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia, and Sky kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother… ” (Catalogue)

The overstory / Powers, Richard
The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond… There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In our mad and furious city / Gunaratne, Guy
“For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it. Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender, In our mad and furious city marks the arrival of a major new talent in fiction.” (Catalogue)

The long take : or, a way to lose more slowly / Robertson, Robin
“Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through post-war American cities of New York, Los Angles and San Francisco.” (Syndetics summary)
You can find this title in the Wellington City Libraries poetry collection.

How films can lead you to comics

There’s nothing like a good explore of the library collection, but where to start? Recently a list of recommendations landed in Central’s graphic novel collection featuring movies as a jumping off point into some great graphic stories.

So lets dive in… with the very atmospheric Blade Runner 2049. There are tie-ins with tone, style, setting, the question of android ‘vs’ human, ethics, them ‘vs’ us, detective skills and unexpected empathy.


Chris Robertson and Robert Adler are part of a team that has created a six part sequence Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep: Dust to dust exploring the birth of the android hunters, a part of the Blade Runner universe.

Do androids dream of electric sheep? : dust to dust [1] / Roberson, Chris
“Who hunted androids before Dick Deckard? Taking place immediately after World War Terminus ends, the problems with artificial–androids–become apparent. The government decides they must become targets, hunted down, but who will do the dirty work? Two men are assigned: Malcolm Reed, a “special” human with the power to feel others’ emotions, and Charlie Victor. Meanwhile Samantha Wu, a Stanford biologist, fights to save the last of the living animals.” (Catalogue)

Trifecta : Judge Dredd / Ewing, Al
“Judge Dredd / created by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra — The simping detective / created by Simon Spurrier & Frazer Irving — Low life / created by Rob Williams & Henry Flint.” (Catalogue)
Compared to le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by some reviewers, this is a presentation of Judge Dredd’s world with machinations from clones, corporations and deeds gone wrong. Enjoy!

Pluto : Urasawa X Tezuka. 001 / Urasawa, Naoki
“In a distant future where sentient humanoid robots pass for human, someone or some thing is out to destroy the seven great robots of the world. Europol’s top detective Gesicht is assigned to investigate these mysterious robot serial murders—the only catch is that he himself is one of the seven targets.” (Catalogue)

Tokyo ghost. Volume one, The atomic garden / Remender, Rick
“The Isles of Los Angles 2089–Humanity is addicted to technology. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay are about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of LA and into the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Descender. Book one: Tin stars / Lemire, Jeff
“Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey, Descender pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic. Collecting issues #1-6 of Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Trillium) and Dustin Nguyen’s (Little Gotham) critically acclaimed, bestselling new science fiction series” (Catalogue)

Murder, maths and pashing with new eAudiobook fiction

Memento Park book cover

The titles in this month’s blog introduce new perspectives to the Overdrive collection: there’s a colour-dominated world in The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder, a universe of numbers in The Kiss Quotient and, in Lilith Saintcrow’s Afterwar, American politics are seen through the aftermath of a second civil war. So get started here, or visit Overdrive to check out what else is on offer!

Overdrive cover The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang
“Stella Lane comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with as well as way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that she has Asperger’s. She decides that she needs practice—which is why she hires escort Michael Phan…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder, by Sarah J. Harris
“There are three things you need to know about Jasper. 1. He sees the world completely differently. 2. He can’t recognise faces – not even his own. 3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham. But it’s hard to catch a murderer when you can’t recognise their face…” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Summer I Met Jack, by Michelle Gable
“In this scintillating audiobook, listeners are asked to imagine the affair between John F. Kennedy and Alicia Corning Clark – and the child they may have had. The Summer I Met Jack is based on the fascinating real life of Alicia Corning Clark, a woman who J. Edgar Hoover insisted was paid by the Kennedys to keep quiet, not only about her romance with Jack Kennedy, but also a baby they may have had together.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
The Name of the Rose is a thrilling story enriched with period detail and laced with tongue-in-cheek allusions to fictional characters, the most striking of which is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville. Brother William tries to discover why people are dying inexplicably and nastily in the monastery. There is something not altogether right within the library…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Afterwar, by Lilith Saintcrow
“America has been devastated by a second civil war. The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins. One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Dangers of Family Secrets, by Debby Holt
“Freya is a genealogist, but has never paid as much attention to her own family. When her marriage starts to collapse and her grown-up daughters seem more distant than ever, Freya’s reckless abandon startles everyone, and long-hidden secrets begin to emerge…” (Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin
“Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Devil’s Highway, by Gregory Norminton
“An ancient British boy, discovering a terrorist plot, must choose between his brother and his tribe. In the twenty-first century, two men – one damaged by war, another by divorce – clash over their differing claims on the land, and a young girl is caught between them. In the distant future, a gang of feral children struggles to reach safety in a burning world. Three journeys. Three thousand years.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Memento Park, by Mark Sarvas
“After receiving an unexpected call from the Australian consulate, Matt Santos becomes aware of a painting that he believes was looted from his family in Hungary during the Second World War. To recover the painting, he must repair his relationship with his harshly judgmental father, uncover his family history and restore his connection to his own Judaism.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)