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New Contemporary Fiction for February

You will find the most exciting new fiction in this month’s selection of new Contemporary Fiction. From women hermits, to dating, missing persons to World War II espionage, acting to sea kayaking, there is an amazing variety of great reading for all fiction enthusiasts.

Syndetics book coverGeneral theory of oblivion / José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
“On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she will remain for the next thirty years. She lives off vegetables and pigeons, burns her furniture and books to stay alive and keeps herself busy by writing her story on the walls of her home. The outside world slowly seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of a man fleeing his pursuers and a note attached to a bird’s foot. Until one day she meets Sabalu, a young boy from the street who climbs up to her terrace.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe other Einstein : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“This is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight. Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. When fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the sea / Christine Dibley.
“On a clear summer’s day, Detective Inspector Tony Vincent answers a call-out to an idyllic Tasmanian beach house. Surrounded by family and calm waters, seventeen-year-old Zoe Kennett has inexplicably vanished .Four storytellers share their version of what has led to this moment, weaving tales which span centuries and continents. But Tony needs facts, not fiction: how will such fables lead him to Zoe and to the truth? As Tony’s investigation deepens, he is drawn into a world where myth and history blur, and where women who risk all for love must pay the price through every generation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe river at night / Erica Ferencik.
“Winifred Allen needs a vacation. Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings. What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFinisterre / Graham Hurley.
“Germany, October 1944: Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. For the Thousand Year Reich, time is running out. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, German intelligence launch Operation Finisterre, a last-ditch plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table. Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Portisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and Hector Gomez, an ex-FBI detective, planted by Director J. Edgar Hoover in the middle of the most secret place on earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will find themselves fighting for survival as Operation Finisterre plays itself out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe unseen / Roy Jacobsen ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.
“Ingrid Barroy is born on an island that bears her name, a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams. Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams, more children, a smaller island, a different life, and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her. When Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast. But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCove / Cynan Jones.
“Out at sea, in a sudden storm, a man is struck by lightning. When he wakes, injured and adrift on a kayak, his memory of who he is and how he came to be there is all but shattered. Now he must pit himself against the pain and rely on his instincts to get back to shore, and to the woman he dimly senses waiting for his return.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMister Monkey : a novel / Francine Prose.
“Mister Monkey, a screwball children’s musical about a playfully larcenous pet chimpanzee, is the kind of family favorite that survives far past its prime. Margot, who plays the chimp’s lawyer, knows the production is dreadful and bemoans the failure of her acting career. She’s settled into the drudgery of playing a humiliating part, until the day she receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer, and later, in the middle of a performance, has a shocking encounter with Adam, the twelve-year-old who plays the title role. This effervescent comedy is told from the viewpoints of wildly unreliable, seemingly disparate characters whose lives become deeply connected as the madcap narrative unfolds.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDating tips for the unemployed / Iris Smyles.
“Iris Smyles’s Dating Tips for the Unemployed is an urban odyssey, a wistful, wise, and wry look back at a young woman trying to find her home in the world. “Iris,” the narrator and heroine, guides the reader through twenty-four episodes from her life, pausing now and then for meditations on love, sex, work, loneliness, insomnia, arctic exploration, cannibalism, the Higgs boson, Greek mythology, memory, costumes parties, time travel, Rocky I, II, V, IV, VI, and III respectively, literary immortality, real estate trends, and growing up and growing old.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Wednesday club / Kjell Westö ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“1938. Hitler’s expansionist policies are arousing both anger and admiration, not least in Helsinki’s Wednesday Club. The members of this relaxed gentleman’s club are old friends of lawyer Claes Thune. Thune has recently divorced and is at something of a loss, running his law practice with no great enthusiasm. Luckily he has the assistance of an efficient new secretary, Matilda Wiik. But behind her polished exterior Mrs Wiik is tormented by memories of the Finnish Civil War, when she experienced horrors she has been trying to forget ever since. One evening, with the Wednesday Club gathered in Thune’s office, she hears a voice she hoped she would never hear again and she is suddenly plunged back into the past. But this time she is no longer a helpless victim.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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

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

Syndetics book coverInch levels / Neil Hegarty.
A poetic, wonderful debut novel, about the legacy of families, and how the past can influence the future. Haunting stays in the mind long after reading has ended.

Syndetics book coverNo echo : a Hanne Wilhelmsen novel / Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen ; translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce.
Another gripping mystery from an author who always succeeds with psychological analysis of human desires and weaknesses, an author who never disappoints.

Syndetics book coverThe dark side / Anthony O’Neill.
A dark, gripping sci-fi noir, with brutal crimes to be solved and thrilling adventure. Who could resist a psychotic android?

Syndetics book coverLovf : the illustrated diary of a man literally losing his mind / Jesse Reklaw.
Jammed with cartoons, mad schemes, psychedelic portraits, and notes from the road, this is a travel journal and a mirror of the post-traumatic dream world where the author can find no escape. Illustrated using with many varied mediums, this multi-layered graphic novel is a must read for enthusiast.

Syndetics book coverMoshi Moshi / Banana Yoshimoto ; translated by Asa Yoneda.
A moving story of loss, grief and recovery, through believable characters, brilliantly portrayed.

New Mysteries for February

This month’s selection of new mystery novels has an international flavour, with four translated mysteries, from France, Italy, Norway and Sweden. There is also a debut mystery from Arjum Gaind, set in India in1909, titled A very pukka murder: a Maharaja mystery that comes highly recommended.

Syndetics book coverThe sleepwalker : a novel / Chris Bohjalian.
“When a sleepwalker who has experienced episodes of near violence while unconscious goes missing, her eldest daughter, Lianna, finds herself drawn to a lead detective who seems to know more than he is revealing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack water lilies / Michel Bussi ; translated from the French by Shaun Whiteside.
“Giverny, is during the day, the home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his waterlilies. But once the tourists have gone, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village. This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe falling detective / Christoffer Carlsson ; translated by Michael Gallagher.
“The second instalment in the internationally bestselling Leo Junker series. Leo Junker is back in the homicide unit, after a murder case where he was the intended victim. Still abusing prescription drugs and battling his inner demons, he’s doing his best to appear fit for duty. A sociologist named Thomas Heber is found murdered. The only clues the police have to work with are Heber’s cryptic research notes, which indicate that someone else’s life is also under threat, but who? Leo is put on the Heber case with his former nemesis Gabriel Birck, but when the case is abruptly reassigned to the Swedish Security Service, he realizes this is no ordinary street mugging.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA very pukka murder : a Maharaja mystery / Arjun Raj Gaind.
“Major William Russell, the English Resident of the princely state of Rajpore, is found dead the morning after the 1909 New Year’s Ball. The fabulously wealthy Maharaja of Rajpore, a lover of luxury cars and beautiful women, cannot resist a mystery and, over the objections of the local Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police, attempts to solve the crime. As the British authorities dispatch their own investigator from Simla, His Highness deals with the growing hostility of the English Establishment, learning that Major Russell was not as pukka, as proper, as he liked to pretend.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last act of Hattie Hoffman / Mindy Mejia.
“Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.Local sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe unseen witness : power and vanity meets danger and death / Grant Peake.
“Power and vanity meets danger and death. Shortly after the suspicious death of his best friend, a mysterious note appears on desk of Private Investigator Paul O’Shea. Desperate to get to the bottom of things, O’Shea and his secretary, Donna Weston, decide to take the law into their own hands. The pair soon find themselves in the midst of a series of disturbing killings. In order to crack the case Paul and Donna must uncover a long-kept secret that has been fiercely guarded for decades.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe birdwatcher / William Shaw.
“Police Sergeant William South has a reason for not wanting to be on the murder investigation. He is a murderer himself. But the victim was his only friend; like him, a passionate birdwatcher. South is warily partnered with the strong-willed Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, newly recruited to the Kent coast from London. Together they find the body, violently beaten, forced inside a wooden chest. Only rage could kill a man like this. South knows it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhere roses never die / Gunnar Staalesen ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“Mette Misvaer, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her family and community are devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Almost 25 years later, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe third sin / Aline Templeton.
“Pleasure is the highest good: the group who called themselves the Cyrenaics practised the principle until the death of one from an overdose and the apparent suicide of another. Sobered, the group went their several ways. One heads to Canada, another disappears and a third is believed to have committed suicide, at least until his body turns up two years later in the wreck of a car swept up on to the Solway mud flats. The murky relationships among the Cyrenaics, revived when they start returning for a party bring more pain and death. DI Marjory Fleming finds this and the murder which follows on her own patch, obstructed by the unpleasant and resentful inspector she has been asked to direct.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeath in the Tuscan hills / Marco Vichi ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
“Spring, 1967. The trail of tragedy and destruction that followed the previous winter’s flood seems to have died down; Florence is beginning to recover. But Inspector Bordelli does not feel the same sense of relief, he has not had a moment’s peace since his investigation of a young boy’s murder went disastrously wrong. Unsettled and embittered, Bordelli resigns from the force and leaves the city. Now, in the solitude of his new home in the Tuscan hills, he spends his days cooking, going for long walks and learning to grow his own vegetables. But the thought of that case, of justice not served, is constantly with him. Until fate, in which he has never believed, unexpectedly offers him the chance of retribution.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Sebastian Barry wins 2016 Costa Book of the Year Award

Syndetics book coverThe winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award has been awarded to Sebastian Barry for his novel titled Days Without End. The Costa prize has five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book, with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year and the prize of £30,000. This is the second time Sebastian Barry has received this award, the first being in 2008 for his novel titled The Secret Scripture.
Sebastian Barry was born in Ireland in 1955. His first novel was published in 1982; this was followed by eight other novels, two volumes of poetry and fourteen plays.

New Mysteries for January

This month’s selection of new Mystery novels will provide readers with many satisfying hours of thrilling reading. Included and highly recommended is the second novel by Vaseem Khan, a new writer in this genre, who is becoming very popular. His latest mystery is titled The perplexing theft of the jewel in the crown.

Syndetics book coverNone but the dead / Lin Anderson.
“Sanday, one of Britain’s northernmost islands, inaccessible when the wind prevents the ferry crossing from the mainland, or fog grounds the tiny, island-hopping plane. When human remains are discovered to the rear of an old primary school, forensic expert Dr Rhona MacLeod and her assistant arrive to excavate the grave. Approaching midwinter, they find daylight in short supply, the weather inhospitable and some of the island’s inhabitants less than co-operative. When the suspicious death of an old man in Glasgow appears to have links with the island, DS Michael McNab is dispatched to investigate. Desperately uncomfortable in such surroundings, he finds no internet, no CCTV, and no police station. As the weather closes in, the team, including criminal profiler and Orkney native Professor Magnus Pirie are presented with a series of unexplained incidents.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLovemurder / Saul Black.
“Troubled San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart is planning a rare weekend away from the job when she gets the call. The body of a woman, brutally murdered has been found and a cryptic note left by the body is addressed to Valerie.The victim is unknown to her, but as Valerie analyses the scene, the clues begin to point in a deeply disturbing direction: to a maximum security prison where a woman called Katherine Glass is awaiting execution for a series of gruesome killings. And Valerie was the cop who put her there.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStone coffin / Kjell Eriksson ; translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg.
“One sunny summer morning a young woman and her six-year old daughter are run over by a car. Both are killed immediately. Is it an accident, or did someone kill them on purpose? The same morning the husband of the deceased young woman disappears. During the police investigation, it turns out that the husband had recently bought a property that nobody knew anything about. A few days later a macabre discovery is made in a forest nearby” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe inheritance / Charles Finch.
“Charles Lenox has received a cryptic plea for help from an old Harrow schoolmate, Gerald Leigh, but when he looks into the matter he finds that his friend has suddenly disappeared. As boys they had shared a secret: a bequest from a mysterious benefactor had smoothed Leigh’s way into the world after the death of his father. Lenox, already with a passionate interest in detective work, made discovering the benefactor’s identity his first case, but was never able to solve it. Now, years later, Leigh has been the recipient of a second, even more generous bequest. Is it from the same anonymous sponsor? Or is the money poisoned by ulterior motives? Leigh’s disappearance suggests the latter, and as Lenox tries, desperately, to save his friend’s life, he’s forced into confrontations with both the most dangerous of east end gangs and the far more genteel denizens of the illustrious Royal Society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo echo : Hanne Wilhelmsen Series, Book 6 / Anne Holt
“When celebrity chef Brede Ziegler is discovered stabbed to death on the steps of the Olso police headquarters it sends a shockwave through the city’s in-crowd. Ziegler had lots of famous friends, is there a culprit among them, or was this a random act of violence? Police investigator Billy T. takes on the case, but is met with conflicting information about what kind of man Ziegler was. It seems nobody really knew the dead man, including his glamorous wife, the restaurant co-owner and the editor of his memoir.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe perplexing theft of the jewel in the crown / Vaseem Khan.
“For centuries, the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king. Now part of the British Crown Jewels, the priceless gem it is a prize that many have killed to possess. So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone’s principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRuler of the night / David Morrell.
“1855. The railway has irrevocably altered English society: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. This brings freedom and danger. When a gentleman is stabbed to death in a locked first-class passenger compartment, the crime paralyzes London. In the next compartment, Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. They join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe reckoning on Cane Hill / Steve Mosby.
“Every year, Detective David Groves receives a birthday card for his son–even though he buried him years ago. His son’s murder took everything from him, apart from his belief in the law, even though the killers were never found. This year, though, the card bears a different message: I know who did it. Uncovering the facts will lead him on a dark journey, where he must face his own wrongs as well as those done to those they love.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn Oxford anomaly / Norman Russell.
“Jeremy Oakshott, Fellow of Jerusalem Hall, and an authority on the Crusades, is content with life until renowned archaeologist Mrs Lestrange urges him to join her expedition to Syria. His wealthy uncle, Ambrose Littlemore, refuses to help him, and is murdered soon afterwards. Detective Inspector Antrobus has already investigated the savage murder of one of Oakeshott’s old friends, but the scholar’s alibis are completely water-tight. Assisted by his doctor friend, Sophia Jex-Blake, Antrobus looks further afield, visiting two criminal lunatic asylums, a remote nunnery, and a quiet country village, where at last they uncover the truth about five savage murders, and the identity of their perpetrator.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn bitter chill / Sarah Ward.
“Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide. Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ this month featuring translated novels

Some fabulous reading entertainment from around the world is provided in this month’s selection of new ‘Other Genres’ fiction. There is a wide range of translated novels, from Sweden, Germany, France, Japan, Israel, Algeria and Russia. Highly recommended is the Japanese best seller, by popular Banana Yoshimoto, titled Moshi Moshi.

Syndetics book coverAnd every morning the way home gets longer and longer : a novella / Fredrik Backman ; translated by Alice Menzies.
“An exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis house is mine / Dörte Hansen ; translated from the German by Anne Stokes.
“All her life Vera has felt like a stranger in the old and drafty half-timbered farmhouse she arrived at as a five-year-old refugee from East Prussia in 1945, and yet she can’t seem to let it go. Sixty years later, her niece Anne suddenly shows up at her door with her small son. Anne has fled the trendy Hamburg, Germany neighborhood she never fit into after her relationship imploded. Vera and Anne are strangers to each other but have much more in common than they think. As the two strong-willed and very different women share the great old house, they find what they have never thought to search for: a family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween life and death / Yoram Kaniuk ; translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Harshav.
“Famed Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk describes the four months during which he lay unconscious in a Tel Aviv hospital, hovering between the world of the living and that of the dead. Shifting between memory and illusion, imagination and testimony, this novel probes into the place of death in society, the lust for life, and the force of human relationships.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe angels die / Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by Howard Curtis.
“As a child living in a ghetto, Turambo dreamt of a better future. When his family find a home in the city anything seems possible. Through a succession of menial jobs, the constants for Turambo are rage at the injustice surrounding him, and a reliable left hook. A boxing apprenticeship offers Turambo a choice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe graveyard apartment / Mariko Koike ; translated from the Japanese by Deborah Boliver Boehm.
“A young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow into, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that the longer they stay, the more trapped they become.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mayakovsky tapes : a novel / Robert Littell ; translated from the Russian by R. Litzky.
“In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow’s deluxe Metropole Hotel. They have gathered, not altogether willingly, to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure. Each of these ladies loved Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their memories of him, a portrait of the artist emerges.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverDon’t turn out the lights / Bernard Minier ; translated by Alison Anderson.
“Martin Servaz is on leave in a clinic for depressed cops, haunted by his childhood sweetheart Marianne’s kidnapping by his nemesis, the psychopath Julian Hirtmann. One day, he receives a key card to a hotel room in the mail, the room where an artist committed suicide a year earlier. Someone wants him to get back to work, which he’s more than ready to do, despite his mandatory sick leave. Servaz soon uncovers evidence of a truly terrifying crime. Could someone really be cruelly, consciously hounding women to death?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStory of a sociopath : a novel / Julia Navarro.
“Thomas Spencer is a man who knows how to get what he wants, though his poor health and aging looks are the price he’s had to pay. He wears these features proudly, like scars from the battles that propelled him to the top in his glamorous career as a publicist and media maven. But lately, after several cardiac episodes, he senses that his time in the sun is dwindling. In the solitude of his luxurious Brooklyn apartment, he begins to look back on the convoluted trajectory his life has taken. What follows is a spellbinding psychological narrative that takes us through the world of international media and politics from the 1990s to the present.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slow waltz of turtles / Katherine Pancol ; translated by William Rodarmor.
“Fortysomething mother of two Josephine Cortes is at a crossroads. She has just moved to a posh new apartment in Paris after the success of the historical novel she ghostwrote for her sister, Iris. Still struggling with her divorce, the result of her husband running off to Kenya to start a crocodile farm with his mistress, she is now entangled too in a messy lie orchestrated by her sister. And just when things seem they can’t get any more complicated, people start turning up dead in her neighborhood.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoshi Moshi / Banana Yoshimoto ; translated by Asa Yoneda.
“Yoshie’s much-loved musician father has died in a suicide pact with an unknown woman. It is only when Yoshie and her mother move to Shimo-kitazawa, a traditional Tokyo neighborhood of narrow streets, quirky shops, and friendly residents that they can finally start to put their painful past behind them. However, despite their attempts to move forward, Yoshie is haunted by nightmares in which her father is looking for the phone he left behind on the day he died, or on which she is trying, unsuccessfully to call him. Is her dead father trying to communicate a message to her through these dreams?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for January

In this month’s selection of new Contemporary fiction, there are several historical novels, and three debut novels from promising new talents. One of these, titled Inch Levels by Neil Hegarty is highly recommended, a very talented writer. Also recommended is Arudpragasam Anuk’s, beautifully written debut novel titled The story of a brief marriage, although quite heart breaking.

Syndetics book coverThe story of a brief marriage / Anuk Arudpragasam.
“This haunting debut novel takes place in a Sri Lankan civil-war-evacuee camp. The opening scene in which a young boy’s shrapnel-damaged forearm is amputated with a kitchen knife prepares readers for what is to come, as newlyweds Dinesh and Ganga, who barely know each other, try to navigate the intimacies of marriage in the midst of great brutality.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe terranauts / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
“It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes, rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean, and marsh, and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them. Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of ecovisionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C.–“God the Creator”–for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. The Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: “Nothing in, nothing out,” becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.” (Adaptrd from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe gentleman from Japan : an Inspector O novel / James Church.
“Under the guise of machinery for making dumplings, a Spanish factory near Barcelona is secretly producing a key component in the production of nuclear weapons. When information finds its way to the inboxes of Western intelligence agencies that this “dumpling maker” is meant for North Korea, orders go out that the shipment must be stopped. Carefully planted bits of information and bizarre events have led both the Spanish factory and those trying to intercept the machine to conclude that Japanese criminal organizations are involved in buying and transporting the “dumpling” machine in order to hide the involvement of North Korea.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInch levels / Neil Hegarty.
“Patrick Jackson lies on his deathbed in Derry and recalls a family history marked by secrecy and silence, and a striking absence of conventional pieties. He remembers the death of an eight-year-old girl, whose body was found on reclaimed land called Inch Levels on the shoreline of Lough Swilly. And he is visited by his beloved but troubled sister Margaret and by his despised brother-in-law Robert, and by Sarah, his hard, unchallengeable mother. Each of them could talk about events in the past that might explain the bleakness of their relationships, but leaving things unsaid has become a way of life. Guilt and memory beat against them, as shock waves from bombs in Derry travel down the river to shake the windows of those who have escaped the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Secret of Spandau / Peter Lovesey.
“Rudolf Hess was the most closely guarded prisoner in the world. Forty-five years after his capture in Scotland on a supposed peace mission he was still in Spandau Prison. Why was it necessary to keep him there so long? He was a Nazi, but one with a damaging tale to tell.If anyone can reach him it is Berlin correspondent Red Goodbody, known for his foolhardiness, but also for his daring and panache. The fear is that the stability of Western Europe may be undermined by what Hess can reveal; and so both the KGB and MI5 move into action to protect the extraordinary secret of Spandau.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBright, precious days / Jay McInerney.
“Even decades after their arrival, Corrine and Russell Calloway still feel as if they’re living the dream that drew them to New York City in the first place: book parties; high-society events; jobs they care about (and in fact love); twin children; a loft in TriBeCa and summers in the Hamptons. But all of this comes at a fiendish cost. Russell, an independent publisher, has superb cultural credentials yet minimal cash flow; as he navigates a business that requires, beyond astute literary judgment, constant financial improvisation, he encounters an audacious, potentially game-changing or ruinous opportunity. Corrine’s world is turned upside down when the man with whom she’d had an ill-fated affair in the wake of 9/11 suddenly reappears. The Calloways will find themselves and their marriage tested more severely than they ever could have imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man with the poison gun : a Cold War spy story / Serhii Plokhy.
“In the fall of 1961, KGB assassin Bogdan Stashinsky defected to West Germany. After spilling his secrets to the CIA, Stashinsky was put on trial in what would be the most publicized assassination case of the entire Cold War. The publicity stirred up by the Stashinsky case forced the KGB to change its modus operandi abroad and helped end the career of Aleksandr Shelepin, one of the most ambitious and dangerous Soviet leaders. Stashinsky’s testimony, implicating the Kremlin rulers in political assassinations carried out abroad, shook the world of international politics. Stashinsky’s story is an unparalleled insight into the shadowy world of Cold War espionage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIdaho : a novel / Emily Ruskovich.
“A tale told from multiple perspectives traces the complicated relationship between Ann and Wade on a rugged landscape and how they came together in the aftermath of his first wife’s imprisonment for a violent murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSwing time / Zadie Smith.
“Two brown girls dream of being dancers, but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. This is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter sky : a novel / Chris Stewart.
“Lucas is a fighter in the Polish Resistance Movement during World War II. But when he wakes up in the trenches after a long night of being shelled, he finds his ears bloody and his memory gone. All he has left is a torn photograph of a man and woman and a young boy. Could the child be him? Four days later, on December 20, Lucas is dropped off on the train platform of a bombed-out Polish village. Nothing is familiar, though his buddies assure him that this was his home town. All around him he finds death and destruction. He begins searching for his family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels for January

This month’s selection of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels includes the much awaited second book in series by Ben Bova, Ken Liu and David Dalglish, also the last book in the Guardians trilogy by Nora Roberts. Plus there is the first book in a new saga by Anthony Ryan titled Draconis memoria.

Syndetics book coverApes and angels / Ben Bova.
“Book 2 in the Star Quest Trilogy. A wave of death is spreading through the Milky Way galaxy, an expanding sphere of lethal gamma radiation that erupted from the galaxy’s core twenty-eight thousand years ago and now is approaching Earth’s vicinity at the speed of light. Every world it touched was wiped clean of all life. But it’s possible to protect a planet from gamma radiation. Earth is safe. Now, guided by the ancient intelligent machines called the Predecessors, men and women from Earth seek out those precious, rare worlds that harbor intelligent species, determined to save them from the doom that is hurtling toward them. The crew of the Odysseus has arrived at Mithra Gamma, the third planet of the star Mithra, to protect the stone-age inhabitants from the Death Wave. But they’ll also have to protect themselves.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThunderlord : a Darkover novel / Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross.
“The saga of two kingdoms, divided by bitter history and present-day suspicions, one armed with devastating power and the other determined to overcome it, no matter what the price. Can love and resourcefulness overcome even the overwhelming power of a Thunderlord?” (Adapted from Syndetis summary)

Syndetics book coverFireborn / David Dalglish.
“The next novel in the Seraphim series following Skyborn. Bree and Kael Skyborn have seen their island invaded, their Seraphim disbanded, and their royal family imprisoned. A rebellion grows from the ashes, demanding Bree to be their Phoenix, their symbol against Center’s tyranny, and for Kael to find the doomsday prophet Johan and sway his cult to their side. Should they fail, the hope of their rebellion fails with them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarp / Lev Grossman.
“Twenty-something Hollis Kessler languishes in a hopelessly magician-less world (with the exception of a fleet-footed nymph named Xanthe) not too far from where he graduated college. His friends do, too. They sleep late, read too much, drink too much, talk too much, and work and earn and do way too little. But Hollis does have an obsession: there’s another world going on in his head, a world of excitement and danger and starships and romance, and it’s telling him that it’s time to stop dreaming and get serious.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wall of storms / Ken Liu.
“Book 2 in the Dandelion dynasty series. Grace of Kings, Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu Empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara and chaos results. But Emperor Kuni cannot go and lead his kingdom against the threat himself with his recently healed empire fraying at the seams, so he sends the only people he trusts to be Dara’s savvy and cunning hopes against the invincible invaders: his children, now grown and ready to make their mark on history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dark side / Anthony O’Neill.
“In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon. Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself, and his equally ambitious daughter, are the chief suspects.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInvasion / Luke Rhinehart.
“Super-intelligent furry aliens suddenly appear from another universe. And they’ve come to earth to have fun. “Louie” follows fisherman Billy Morton home one day and he and his family come quickly to love the playful alien. But when Louie starts using their computer to hack into government and corporate networks, and steal millions from banks to give to others, they realize that Louie and his friends mean trouble. Billy, his wife and two sons begin a roller-coaster ride of fame, fortune, jail, death, resurrection, and a distinguished ranking high on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” List. The Government soon decides that all these aliens are terrorists. They must be eliminated. The aliens are playing games they hope will help humans to see the insanity of the American political, economic and military systems. But the Powers that Be don’t play games: they make war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIsland of glass / Nora Roberts.
“Book 3 in the Guardians trilogy. Doyle Mac Cleirich, soldier and reluctant immortal, has always vowed never to return home. But when his search for the final star leads him to Ireland, it becomes clear that fate has other plans. Solitary by inclination, Doyle is also fighting his growing attraction to archaeologist Riley. His warrior spirit is drawn to the wild and there’s no one more familiar with the wild than Riley. As the six guardians face their final challenge, Riley and Doyle are prepared to risk their lives in battle. But without love to sustain them, the quest is doomed to failure.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe waking fire / Anthony Ryan.
“Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed. But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighbouring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly.The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAt the sign of triumph / David Weber
“The Church of God Awaiting’s triumph over Charis was inevitable. Despite its prosperity, the Charis was a single, small island realm. It boasted less than two percent of the total population of Safehold. How could it possibly resist total destruction? The Church had every reason to be confident of a swift, crushing victory, an object lesson to other rebels. But Charis had something far more powerful than simple numbers. It had Merlin, the cybernetic avatar of a woman dead over a thousand years, who was determined to break the Church’s grip upon the human mind and soul. So after eight years of war, it is not Charis but the Church that stands upon the brink of defeat. But the Church still commands immense resources, and faced with the unthinkable it’s decided that it, too, must embrace the forbidden technology which has carried Charis so far. In the end, it is simple, for only one can survive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Graphic Novels for January

From horror to science fiction, biography to suspense thrillers, and everything in between, all are included in this month’s selection of new Graphic novels. Also included are the first volumes of three new series, Space-Mullet by Daniel Warren Johnson, Old man Logan by Jeff Lemire, and Mystery Girl by Paul Tobin.

Syndetics book coverDeath follows / story by Cullen Bunn ; art by A.C. Zamudio.
“Birdie, her sister, their pregnant mother, and their sickly father all live together on a struggling farm. When an itinerant farmhand named Cole comes to their aid, the children should be relieved. Instead, they find their lives spiraling into nightmare, as Cole regards Birdie with menacing desire. To make matters much worse, wherever he goes, the dead grow restless. As the horror threatens to consume her home and her family, Birdie is haunted by a chilling warning: some secrets are meant only for the dead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to talk to girls at parties / by Neil Gaiman ; adaptation, art, & lettering by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá.
“Enn is a sixteen-year-old boy who just doesn’t understand girls, while his friend Vic seems to have them all figured out. Both teenagers are in for the shock of their young lives, however, when they crash a local party only to discover that the girls there are far, far more than they appear!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCarbon Grey / story, script & lettering, Paul Gardner ; created by Hoang Nguyen, Khari Evans, Mike Kennedy ; art, Khari Evans, Hoang Nguyen, Kinsun Loh.
“The Sisters Grey are warriors, sworn to protect their Kaiser. But as a great war rages, the Kaiser is found dead, and one sister, Giselle Grey is accused of his murder. Pursued by enemies, Giselle must unravel the prophecy of the Carbon Grey before history itself unravels.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpace-Mullet! [1] : one gamble at a time / written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson.
“Ex space marine Jonah and his co-pilot Alphius rove the galaxy, just trying to get by. Drawn into one crazy adventure after another, they forge a crew of misfits into a family that must face the darkest parts of the universe together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn Olympic dream : the story of Samia Yusuf Omar / by Reinhard Kleist.
“The image of Samia Yusuf Omar running for last place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics will forever be imprinted in the minds of all who saw it: The lean Somalian, wearing knee-length leggings and a baggy T-shirt, came in seconds behind her competitors. What the cheering crowd couldn’t know then was what it took to get there. An Olympic Dream follows Omar’s second attempt to represent her country at the Olympics, this time in London. Reinhard Kleist pictures the athlete training in one of the most dangerous cities in the world; her passage through Sudan and into Libya; and her fateful attempt to reach Europe” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Steam Man of the prairie and the Dark Rider get down / story by Joe R. Lansdale ; script by Mark Alan Miller ; art by Piotr Kowalski.
“On the great plains of the old American west, enormous steam-powered robots march across the countryside. Their mission: to defend the populace against invading Martians and armies of killer albino apes. The Steam Man, a giant metal man operated by a team of monster hunters, seems to have the defence of the West well in hand, until a crazed and powerful vampire comes to town with the intention of bringing forth the apocalypse.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOld man Logan [1] : Berzerker / writer, Jeff Lemire ; artist, Andrea Sorrentino.
“Fifty years from now, Logan, the man who no longer calls himself Wolverine, will have endured many atrocities: The Marvel Universe’s villains will have banded together and rid the world of its heroes. Logan’s closest friend, Hawkeye, will have been murdered in cold blood right before his eyes. And driven mad by the same radiation that gave him his superhuman strength, Bruce Banner will have fathered a family of hillbilly Hulks that eventually went on to slaughter Logan’s wife and two children. But now, in the present, Old Man Logan wakes up to discover himself in a world before these atrocities, before the Wasteland. And he’s going to seize this opportunity and change history to ensure that his future never comes to pass.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLovf : the illustrated diary of a man literally losing his mind / Jesse Reklaw.
“LOVF is the sketchbook companion of a man literally losing his mind. Homeless and broke after giving all his stuff to punk-rock heroin dealers, he ends up off his meds and on a secret quest from Portland to Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Seattle. Jammed with cartoons, mad schemes, psychedelic portraits, and notes from the road, LOVF is a travel journal and a mirror of the post-traumatic dream world its author can’t escape from.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBird in a cage / Rebecca Roher.
“Once a sharp, strong-willed and independent woman, Roher’s grandmother’s life took an unexpected turn when an accident left her with a brain injury, leading to early onset dementia. An unlikely protagonist, grandma was an elderly woman trapped by her deteriorating mind, aging body and the walls around her. This story illuminates the often overlooked narrative of a senior, her complicated history and inner life. Loveable and tragic, she is determined to get back to a familiar place, to be home again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMystery Girl. Volume 1 / script by Paul Tobin ; art and cover by Alberto J. Alburquerque.
“Trine Hampstead knows everything. Just knows it. Ask her a question like, ‘Where are my keys?’ or, ‘Is my husband cheating on me?’ or, ‘How can there be perfectly preserved mammoths in the ice of Siberia when the ice isn’t that old?’ and she just knows the answer. She’s the Mystery Girl. The only thing she doesn’t know is anything about the last ten years of her own life, including what happened to give her this ability” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The Best of the Best: must reads from this month’s fiction selection

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

Syndetics book coverThe wish child / Catherine Chidgey.
This wonderfully authentic novel is compelling reading, a great accomplishment.

Syndetics book coverHot dog taste test : a cook [crossed out] book / by Lisa Hanawalt.
A very funny exploration of the author’s anxieties and obsessions, making the mundane disturbing and the strange normal.

Syndetics book coverMagpie murders / Anthony Horowitz.
A brilliantly multilayered thriller with a very satisfying twist.

Syndetics book coverDeath and the seaside / Alison Moore.
A dark unsettling novel, at times funny, that you will want to read again.

Syndetics book coverThe gradual / Christopher Priest.
A challenging, but thought provoking novel from this much acclaimed skillful writer.


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