Find a new favourite in our contemporary fiction picks

Folk

The picks of the contemporary fiction this month feature a range of authors who work will enfold or re-enfold you in their worlds. They include debut novelists recommended for their construction and characters and a reprint of an Australian author’s exploration of mortality. Some of these authors are award winners or listed for literary prizes. Intrigue, insight, deception, mystery, invention and sardonic humour can be found in the library’s new fiction additions.

Syndetics book coverTangerine / Christine Mangan.
“Obsession intersects two love triangles in this tale of devotion gone wrong. Twisted passion, perceived betrayal, and a fight for survival are written into the exotic, colourful, and dangerous backdrop of 1950s Tangier, Morocco. Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason are introverted college roommates who quickly become best friends. But when Alice finds romance with Tom, odd things happen, ending with a car accident that tears their lives apart. Trying to forget Lucy and their tainted past, Alice marries a man she hardly knows and moves to Tangier–a place that holds the promise of adventure laced with the thrill of danger but that proves too threatening for Alice. When Lucy discovers that Alice’s marriage is far from happy, she decides to rescue the woman she’d loved in college, once again claiming her as her own.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAdjustment day / Chuck Palahniuk.
“People pass the word only to those they trust most: Adjustment Day is coming. They’ve been reading a mysterious book and memorizing its directives. They are ready for the reckoning. Adjustment Day, the author’s first novel in four years, is an ingeniously comic work in which Chuck Palahniuk does what he does best: skewer the absurdities in our society. When Adjustment Day arrives, it fearlessly makes real the logical conclusion of every separatist fantasy, alternative fact, and conspiracy theory lurking in the American psyche.” (Syndetics summary)

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

Syndetics book coverThe executor / Blake Morrison.
“What matters most: marriage or friendship? fidelity or art? the wishes of the living or the talents of the dead? Matt Holmes finds himself considering these questions sooner than he thinks when his friend, the poet Robert Pope, dies unexpectedly. Bestselling novelist and poet Blake Morrison creates a biting portrait of competitive male friendship, sexual obsession and the fragile transactions of married life. The Executor innovatively interweaves poetry and prose to form a gripping literary detective story.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe eight mountains / Paolo Cognetti ; translated from the Italian by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre.
“The international sensation about two young Italian boys from different backgrounds who meet in the mountains every summer, and the men they grow to become. Pietro, a lonely city boy, spends his childhood summers in a secluded valley in the Alps. Bruno, the cowherd son of a local stonemason, knows the mountains intimately. A modern Italian masterpiece, The Eight Mountains is a lyrical coming-of-age story spanning three decades; a novel about the power of male friendships and a meditation on loyalty, being in nature, and finding one’s place in the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProperty : stories between two novellas / Lionel Shriver.
“A striking new collection of ten short stories and two novellas that explores the idea of property in every meaning of the word. Lionel Shriver’s first collection explores property in both senses of the word: real estate and stuff. These pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves, in Lionel Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us. Exhibiting a satisfying thematic unity unusual for a collection, this masterful work showcases the biting insight that has made Shriver one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFolk / Zoe Gilbert.
“The remote island village of Neverness is a world far from our time and place. The air hangs rich with the coconut-scent of gorse and the salty bite of the sea. Harsh winds scour the rocky coastline. The villagers’ lives are inseparable from nature and its enchantments. Tales of this island community interweave over the course of a generation, their earthy desires, resentments, idle gossip and painful losses create a staggeringly original world. Verlyn Webbe, born with a wing for an arm, unfurls his feathers in defiance of past shame; Plum is snatched by a water bull and dragged to his lair; little Crab Skerry takes his first run through the gorse-maze; Madden sleepwalks through violent storms, haunted by horses and her father’s wishes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBreath / Tim Winton.
“When paramedic Bruce Pike is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong, he knows better than his colleague, better than the kid’s parents, what happened and how. Thirty years before, that dead boy could have been him. A relentlessly gripping and deeply moving novel about the damage you do to yourself when you’re young and think you’re immortal. Originally published in 2008.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDead men’s trousers / Irvine Welsh.
“Mark Renton is finally a success. An international jet-setter, he now makes significant money managing DJs, but the constant travel, airport lounges, soulless hotel rooms and broken relationships have left him dissatisfied with his life. He’s then rocked by a chance encounter with Frank Begbie, who appears to have reinvented himself as a celebrated artist. Sick Boy and Spud are intrigued to learn that their old friends are back in town, but when they enter the bleak world of organ-harvesting, things start to go so badly wrong. One of these four will not survive to the end of this book. Which one of them is wearing Dead Men’s Trousers?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwisted prey / John Sandford.Twisted Prey
“Taryn Grant had run successfully for the U.S. Senate, where Lucas had predicted she’d fit right in. He was also convinced that she’d been responsible for three murders, though he’d never been able to prove it. Once a psychopath had gotten that kind of rush, though, he or she often needed another fix, so he figured he might be seeing her again. He was right. A federal marshal now, with a very wide scope of investigation, he’s heard rumours that Grant has found her seat on the Senate intelligence committee, and the contacts she’s made from it, to be very…useful.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPanic room / Robert Goddard.
“Sometimes the danger is on the inside… High on a Cornish cliff sits a vast uninhabited mansion, uninhabited except for Blake, a young woman of dubious background, secretive and alone, currently acting as house sitter. The house has a panic room. Even Blake doesn’t know it’s there. She’s too busy being on the run from life, from a story she thinks she’s escaped. But her remote existence is going to be invaded when people come looking for the house’s owner, missing rogue pharma entrepreneur, Jack Harkness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe woman in the woods / John Connolly.
“The new thrilling instalment of John Connolly’s popular Charlie Parker series. It is spring, and the semi-preserved body of a young Jewish woman is discovered buried in the Maine woods. It is clear that she gave birth shortly before her death. But there is no sign of a baby. Private detective Charlie Parker is engaged by the lawyer Moxie Castin to shadow the police investigation and find the infant, but Parker is not the only searcher. Someone else is following the trail left by the woman, someone with an interest in more than a missing child, someone prepared to leave bodies in his wake. And in a house by the woods, a toy telephone begins to ring. For a young boy is about to receive a call from a dead woman…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Selected picks from our latest graphic novels

Brazen

There is a rich diversity in this month’s graphic novel picks, from continuations of acclaimed series such as Arthur De Pins’ The Revolution of the Crabs to historic seminal cult works such as the DC House of Horror anthology to a wonderful graphic novel celebrating the rebel ladies who rocked the world. All in all it’s a rich cornucopia with works to suit all tastes.

Syndetics book coverThe death of Stalin / writer, Fabien Nury ; artist, Thierry Robin.
“On March 1, 1953, the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, had a severe stroke. A doctor could not be called until the Central Committee had convened, voted, and agreed on which doctor to use, a task made more complex by the fact that Stalin had just ordered the deaths of many of the Soviet Union’s leading physicians. And so began the bureaucratic merry-go-round that became the intense and underhanded struggle for control of a nation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe green hand and other stories / Nicole Claveloux with Edith Zha ; introduction by Daniel Clowes ; translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith.
“Nicole Claveloux’s short stories–originally published in the late 1970s and never before collected in English–are among the most beautiful comics ever drawn: whimsical, intoxicating, with the freshness and splendor of dreams. In hallucinatory colour or elegant black-and-white, she brings us into lands that are strange but oddly recognizable, filled with murderous grandmothers and lonely city dwellers, bad-tempered vegetables and walls that are surprisingly easy to fall through. This new selection, designed and introduced by Daniel Clowes, presents the full achievement of an unforgettable, unjustly neglected master of French comics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOrion’s outcasts / Corbeyran & Jorge Miguel ; Corbeyran, writer ; Jorge Miguel, artist & colorist ; Mark Bence, translator.
“Now, instead of Kolhen’s warrior tattoo, the young man wears the mark of the rejected, the ‘outcasts’ as they are known on the planet Absalon. Determined to prove his innocence and to get revenge on those who framed him, Kolhen escapes captivity with the help of the fiery Tryana, another of society’s pariahs. On his quest, Kolhen meets a mysterious woman with golden hair, who’s armed with strange and powerful weaponry, and who claims to be an envoy from another planet: Earth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRashomon : a Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi case / story and art by Victor Santos ; translations by Katie LaBarbera.
“Victor Santos (Polar, Violent Love) writes and illustrates a crime and mystery story inspired by Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s tales featuring the heroic commissioner Heigo Kobayashi. When the body of a skilled samurai is found along the road to Yamashina in feudal Japan, the search begins for his killer. Detective Heigo Kobayashi takes the case but finds only dead-end clues and no first-hand witnesses.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe walking dead. Volume 29, Lines we cross / Robert Kirkman, creator, writer ; Charlie Adlard, penciler ; Stefano Gaudiano, inker.
“Recent events have thrown Alexandria into turmoil, and now Rick, Dwight, Eugene and Negan all have something to prove.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBrazen : rebel ladies who rocked the world / Pénélope Bagieu ; English translation by Montana Kane.
“Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen : their indomitable spirit.With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hellblazer. Vol. 3, The inspiration game / Tim Seeley, Richard Kadrey, writers ; Jesús Merino, Davide Fabbri, José Marzán Jr., artists.
“Death doesn’t just become John Constantine–it shadows the poor bastard’s every step, from his home turf of London to the streets of San Francisco. What’s more, it has a nasty habit of striking where the DC Universe’s street-level sorcerer least expects it–like his dreams. After waking from a vengeful drunken nightmare, Constantine finds that a real-life murder has been committed. Could he have done the deed himself in a blacked-out rage? Or is some sinister force turning his subconscious mind into the ultimate untraceable weapon?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe march of the crabs [3] : the revolution of the crabs / written and illustrated by Arthur de Pins ; translated by Edward Gauvin.
The March of the Crabs concludes in the third volume of the Eisner Award-nominated series. Inhabiting the Gironde estuary, there is a race of crabs known for their strange defect: unable to evolve, they are condemned to spend their lives walking a single straight line. When Sunny, Boater, and Guitar, discovered a way to spur their biology and change directions, their bold moves broke the crabs into two clans: the rigid (who walk straight) and the turners (who change direction). Now, these two factions are prepared for battle as the other underwater creatures look on, ready to take a side. But the stunning rebellion comes in the crosshairs of another species on the brink of their own cataclysmic change of course… humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBullseye : the Colombian connection.
“He’s a ruthless hitman who never misses, a deadly foe who can turn any object into a lethal weapon! But why is the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous assassin heading to Colombia to take aim at a drug cartel? Find out as Bullseye takes charge!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRock Candy Mountain. Volume one / written & drawn by Kyle Starks.
“It’s the first collection of the manic, hobo fighting epic that is Rock Candy Mountain. Come inside and meet the mysterious, unbeatable hobo Jackson on his quest to find the mythical hobo heaven. Meet his sidekick Pomona Slim. But watch out for the Devil! And the FBI! And the Hobo Mafia too! It’s a fantastical fisticuff frolic through post- World War II America via the rails and backroads through underground fight clubs, prison and the hobo jungles wrought with dangers, hobo fights, jokes and locomotive excitement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRom [3] : long roads to ruin / plot and script by Chris Ryall & Christos Gage ; art by David Messina ; pencils by Guy Dorian, Sr. ; inks by Michele Pasta and Sal Buscema.
“Rom now has help in his war against the Dire Wraiths in the form of additional Solstar Knights and super-powered human allies both… so why is the battle going from bad to worse? The Wraiths’ master plan grows and Rom can’t even see it, let alone find any way to stop it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New sci fi and fantasy selections

The Wolf

This month’s featured science fiction and fantasy novels are selected from our wide range of new acquisitions, and include a series conclusion from Elizabeth May and a future cop mystery from award-winning author John Scalzi. There are also several novels that weave into their plots such themes as mining, alternative medieval Britain and bleak dystopian cities. All will ensure fascinating, thrilling reading.

Syndetics book coverHead on / John Scalzi.
“John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the critically acclaimed Lock In. Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it. Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field. Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth–and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fallen kingdom / Elizabeth May.
My name is Lady Aileana Kameron. First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world. Then one of them killed me. Now I’m fighting for more than revenge.
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarthcore / Scott Sigler.
“Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure. But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting … and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out firsthand why this treasure has never been unearthed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wolf / Leo Carlew.
“Carlew’s debut novel presents an alternate medieval Britain in which the isle of Albion is shared by human Saxons and two races of giants: the incredibly long-lived Anakim and the larger and rarer Unhieru. The uneasy peace between the southern Saxon kingdom and the Black Kingdom of the Anakim is broken as the Sutherners invade, scoring an unexpected victory and killing the current Black Lord. The novel follows both the Anakim heir, Roper, as he attempts to defend the kingdom from invasion while dealing with rivals for the throne, and the leader of the southern invasion, Bellamus, a commoner attempting to not only destroy the Anakim but also secure his own advancement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlackfish City / Sam J. Miller.
“After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay – crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBefore Mars : a Planetfall novel / Emma Newman.
“After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team. But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hyena and the hawk / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
“From the depths of myth an ancient enemy has returned: the Plague People, whose very presence obliterates whole villages; whose terror destroys minds. In their wake, nothing is left of the people, not their places, not their ways. On the plains, the warriors and the wise of all tribes gather to confront the aggressor. Loud Thunder leads his great war-host south, even as Tecumet and Asman head north with the Sun River army. With Maniye Many Tracks, they plan to forge a new unity between the tribes such as the world has never seen. But will it be enough to stave off an oblivion that might devour even their gods?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAscendant / Jack Campbell.
“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. When a “peacekeeping force” carrying thousands of enemy soldiers arrives in Kosatka’s star system, the people of that world face an apparently hopeless battle to retain their freedom. It’s said that the best defense is a good offense. But even if a bold and risky move succeeds, Geary and Darcy may not survive it…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne way / S. J. Morden.
“Andy Weir’s The Martian meets Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in this edge-of-your-seat science fiction thriller about one man’s fight for survival on a planet where everyone’s a killer. Frank Kittridge is serving life for murdering his son’s drug dealer, so when he’s offered a deal by Xenosystems Operations – the corporation that owns the prison – he takes it. He’s been selected to help build the first permanent base on Mars. Unfortunately, his crewmates are just as guilty of their crimes as he is. As the convicts set to work on the frozen wastes of Mars, the accidents multiply.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOversleeper [paperback]
“What do you do when you wake up one morning and find that everything you know has changed? On Monday morning Ignatius Inuus finds himself on the run in a New York he barely recognises. Helped by a mysterious young woman, he starts to learn about the new regime. And, the brutal society – in which people survive at the expense of their humanity – seems to be more nightmare than dream. In his quest to force change, he discovers that when you possess the power of life or death over people, choosing life is not as simple as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Readers Choice fiction selections

Reviews from library patrons are a great way to find out what people have loved reading from the new additions to the fiction collection. 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.

Here are some recent reviews featuring an interesting mix of subjects and genres: mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, humour, psychological fiction, thrillers and New Zealand environmental activism.

The changeling : a novel / LaValle, Victor D.Book Jacket for: The changeling : a novel
“This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent. An unusual voice, but marvellous blend of modernity and fairy-tale, with powerful themes and insight.  Very Satisfying.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Stranded

Stranded / MacLeod, Bracken
“Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was suspenseful, gripping and well researched. Doesn’t lean on the numerous clichés of the horror genre which makes it so engaging.  A great read!” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Hanna who fell from the skyHanna who fell from the sky / Meades, Christopher
“With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world–and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “What a well written novel, thoroughly enjoyed it, well worth reading. Never read any of Meades novels before would love to read more of his material.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: The last hoursThe last hours / Walters, Minette
“When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Well written, engaging, couldn’t put down – read all night. Can’t wait for the sequel this year.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: EurekaEureka / Quinn, Anthony
“Summer, 1967. As London shimmers in a heat haze and swoons to the sound of Sergeant Pepper, a mystery film – Eureka – is being shot by German wunderkind Reiner Kloss. The screenwriter, Nat Fane, would do anything for a hit but can’t see straight for all the acid he’s dropping.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Was an enjoyable read, especially in it’s evocation of London in the ‘swinging sixties’.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: KrusoKruso / Seiler, Lutz
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was compelling.  Via fantasy and fact Seiler deftly weaves a story about East German idealists, refugees and escapists told through the perspective of a challenged young man” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eye of the songbird / Munro, Michael
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world’s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land, Antarctica?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A highly relevant New Zealand thriller with it’s plot centred on one of the big issues of the day; climate change.  Highly recommended” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The miranda : a novel / Nicholson, G. J.
“The Miranda is at turns a biting satire about the secrets we keep from our neighbors, and about the invisible and unceasing state of war in which most Westerners unconsciously live.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was like a Coen Brothers movie: darkly satirical. The detachment of the protagonist is key to this novel – he was a psychologist turned government agent training operatives to withstand torture. He is not disaffected, quite the reverse, but he is clinical , perceptive and interesting. A good dark read.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kamila Shamsie: Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018

Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018. The prize was previously known as the Bailey’s and the Orange Prize. The author is described as creating a book that “spoke for our times. Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties love and politics.” Commended for her mastery, the book is written in five parts, each voicing their truth in the tale. Based on the struggles of Antigone who wrestled with loyalty to family or the ruling elite, this modern setting places characters sensitive to ethnicity, religion and ideologies. British Muslim characters, with family connections to extremism, face prejudice and personal dilemma in reaction to family, the state and justice.

Home fire / Shamsie, Kamila
“Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love? A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.” (Catalogue)

Pulitzer and Booker Prize-winning author Philip Roth dies aged 85

Syndetics book cover
Pulitzer and Booker Prize-winning author Philip Roth has died at the age of 85. Roth drew much of his inspiration from his Jewish background as well as his hometown of Weequahic in Newark, New Jersey. Over the course of his career he was lauded as one of America’s greatest–and most controversial–novelists, especially for his sexually explicit novel Portnoy’s Complaint which scandalised America and turned Roth into a major celebrity.

Roth wrote prolifically over the course of his career, which he self-consciously ended in 2009 after publishing more than 30 books and winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 work American Pastoral. This body of work included several highly-acclaimed historical novels, however the question of identity, especially in the huge melting pot of America, was his lifelong writing obsession.

“Roth is an extremist. He loves to shock, to go beyond the limits of acceptability. That’s why he’s so funny. But it’s also why he’s not to everyone’s taste,” wrote author William Skidelsky in the Guardian in 2011.

Tom Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, has died

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverThomas Kennerly Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, born 2 March 1930, has died on 14 May 2018. He was perhaps best known for his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities which was about the fall of a young Wall Street trader. It is often described as the novel that defined the 80’s and turned Wolfe into a superstar author, a role he relished with his famous flamboyant suits. He was however very far from a one book wonder. The Right Stuff was his non-fiction account of America’s first manned space flights and was turned into a multiple Oscar winning movie. Likewise, his account of Ken Kesey and the merry pranksters’ LSD soaked voyage of discovery across America in the sixties came to be one of the books that defined the flower power generation in much the same way as The Bonfire of the Vanities did for the 80s.

Wellingtonian author Pip Adam wins top NZ fiction prize!

Local Wellingtonian author Pip Adam has won the top fiction prize at the Ockham NZ Book Awards with her fantastic novel The New Animals. Published in 2017, this is Pip’s second novel. The award win includes a $50,000 cash prize and has been won previously by Catherine Chidgey, Eleanor Catton, Emily Perkins and other fantastic writers.

In November we interviewed Pip about The New Animals, so make sure to give the blog post a read if you haven’t already. We have the book in our collection in both print and ebook formats, so be sure to reserve it now!

Syndetics book coverThe new animals / Pip Adam.
“Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember, for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millenials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (adapted from Syndetics)

Pip Adam's The New Animals

Emu or eBook? New Australian fiction

Some great and memorable things have come out of Australia: Thylacoleo carnifex, the giant marsupial lion; not one but three national Frisbee teams; the world’s oldest fossil (at 3.4 billion years old!). And this month Overdrive is adding to the list with fantastic new Australian fiction, including work from emerging authors such as Jay Carmichael and Robbie Arnott. So once you’re done wondering about the platypus (how does a mammal lay an egg?!) sign up to Overdrive and have a read!

Overdrive cover Peripheral Vision, by Paddy O’Reilly
“A teenager on the tram meets an old man claiming to be Jesus Christ. Six young women band together on a night prowl. A Filipino immigrant clashes with his eldest sister, who has brought him to Australia for a better life. And in a future where dogs have risen up against their owners, a mother is alarmed by her adolescent daughter’s behavior. Through such diverse characters, Paddy O’Reilly takes us into the fringes of human nature.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Ironbark, by Jay Carmichael
“Markus Bello’s life has stalled. Living in a small country town, mourning the death of his best friend, Grayson, Markus is isolated and adrift. As time passes, and life continues around him, Markus must try to face his grief, and come to terms with what is left. Through his protagonist, Markus, author Jay Carmichael depicts the conflict and confusion of life as a gay man in rural Australia.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Flames, by Robbie Arnott
“A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte—who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire. The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Chemistry, by Weike Wang
“Our unnamed narrator is three years into her post-grad studies in chemistry and nearly as long into her relationship with her devoted boyfriend, who has just proposed. But while his path forward seems straight, hers is ‘like a gas particle moving around in space’. Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka
“Between the first and second world wars a group of young, non-English-speaking Japanese women travelled by boat to America. They were picture brides, clutching photos of husbands-to-be whom they had yet to meet. Julie Otsuka tells their extraordinary, heartbreaking story in this spellbinding and poetic account of strangers lost and alone in a new and deeply foreign land.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Street Sweeper, by Elliot Perlman
“Recently released from prison, Lamont Williams, an African American probationary janitor, strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly patient. A few kilometres uptown, Australian historian Adam Zignelik, an untenured Columbia professor, finds both his career and his long-term romantic relationship falling apart. As these two men try to survive in early twenty-first-century New York, history comes to life in ways neither of them could have foreseen.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Homesick For Another World, by Ottessa Moshfegh
“There’s something eerily unsettling about Ottessa Moshfegh’s stories, something almost dangerous while also being delightful – and often even weirdly hilarious. Her characters are all unsteady on their feet; all yearning for connection and betterment, in very different ways, but each of them seems destined to be tripped up by their own baser impulses.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Book of Colours, by Robyn Cadwallader
“London, 1321: in a small shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a book of hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion. As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Turning for Home, by Barney Norris
“Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Stitching up the universe: New eAudiobook fiction

The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

But is that true? And if so, what’s been stitched together in this month’s new eAudiobook fiction from Overdrive? As well as Bradbury’s 1953 classic, there’s a patchwork of other great titles, from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth to Ian McEwan’s The Innocent. Political tensions emerge in Alex Berenson’s The Deceivers and to top it off, there’s the novel that spawned the latest Netflix hit: Altered Carbon!

Overdrive cover Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
“Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of 20th-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future, narrated here by Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities: the printed book.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
“Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons, but the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own. Set against London’s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Bachelor Girl, by Kim van Alkemade
“From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel in the vein of Lilac Girls and The Alice Network about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Code of Conduct, by Brad Thor
“Hidden deep within one of the world’s most powerful organizations is a secret committee with a devastating agenda. Its members are afforded incredible protections—considered elites, untouchables. But when four seconds of video is captured halfway around the world and anonymously transmitted to D.C., covert wheels are set in motion, and counter-terrorism operative Scot Harvath is tapped to undertake the deadliest assignment of his career.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover This Could Hurt, by Jillian Medoff
“Jillian Medoff explores the inner workings of an American company in all its brilliant, insane, comforting and terrifying glory. Authentic, razor-sharp and achingly funny, This Could Hurt is a novel about work, loneliness, love and loyalty; about sudden reversals and unexpected windfalls; a novel about life.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Innocent, by Ian McEwan
“The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life – and to lose his unwanted innocence.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Every Note Played, by Lisa Genova
“An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world. But that was eight months ago. Richard now has ALS. As his muscles, voice and breath fade, he and his ex-wife Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late. Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Deceivers, by Alex Berenson
“It was supposed to be a terrorist sting. The guns were supposed to be disabled. Then why was there so much blood? The target was the American Airlines Center, the home of the Dallas Mavericks. The FBI had told Ahmed Shakir that his drug bust would go away if he helped them, and they’d supply all the weaponry, carefully removing the firing pins before the main event. It never occurred to Ahmed to doubt them, until it was too late.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan
“In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or ‘sleeve’) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.” (Overdrive description.)