A taste of life: New eBook fiction

I Married A Communist book cover

With the recent death of Philip Roth, the world lost a writer of unique skill and intensity. His writing process has been compared to the work of a doctor in an emergency room (as well as a prisoner in a torture chamber), however he kept writing until his 77th birthday, with his final novel published in 2010. To celebrate Roth’s achievements, Overdrive has released some of his greatest works as eBooks, including the Pulitzer-winning American Pastoral. There are also novels from authors including Dagger-nominated Luke McCallin and our own Tessa Duder! Log in to find out more!

Overdrive cover American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
“‘Swede’ Levov is living the American dream. He glides through life sustained by his devoted family, his demanding yet highly rewarding (and lucrative) business, his sporting prowess, his good looks. He is the embodiment of thriving, post-war America, land of liberty and hope. Until the sunny day in 1968, when the Swede’s bountiful American luck deserts him.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover I Married a Communist, by Philip Roth
“The second novel of Roth’s American trilogy charts the rise and fall of Ira Ringold, an American roughneck who begins life as a ditchdigger in 1930s New Jersey, becoming a big-time radio hotshot. In his heyday Ira marries Hollywood’s beloved leading lady, Eve Frame. Their glamorous honeymoon is short-lived, however, and it is the publication of Eve’s scandalous bestselling expose that identifies Ira as ‘an American taking his orders from Moscow’.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
“Jonas feels like his life is over. His wife has left him, his mother is slipping deeper into dementia and his daughter is no longer who he thought. So he comes up with a fool-proof plan: to buy a one-way ticket to a chaotic, war-ravaged country and put an end to it all. But on arriving at Hotel Silence, he finds his plans – and his anonymity – begin to dissolve under the foreign sun.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
“Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay
“The lives of the Barretts are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to halt Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit TV show.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Boy Who Belonged to the Sea, by Denis Thériault
“Set on the rugged north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, The Boy Who Belonged to the Sea tells the touching story of an extraordinary friendship between two young boys who have both suffered the loss of a parent. Although they have little else in common, the boys come together in their grief and take refuge in a world of their own creation.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Is She Still Alive?, by Tessa Duder
“In 2003 Tessa Duder spent six months in Europe as the recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship. Internationally renowned for her superb children’s and YA novels, Tessa used her time in Menton to write something very different: a superb collection of thirteen stories for women who have moved beyond youth and into maturity.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Burning Fields, by Alli Sinclair
“Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia–until he meets Rosie. Her easy–going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families, until the situation becomes explosive.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion is an account of the Elder Days, of the First Age of Tolkien’s world. It is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back, and in whose events some of them such as Elrond and Galadriel took part. The tales of The Silmarillion are set in an age when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle-Earth, and the High Elves made war upon him for the recovery of the Silmarils, the jewels containing the pure light of Valinor.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Ashes of Berlin, by Luke McCallin
“1947 and Gregor Reinhardt has been hired back onto Berlin’s civilian police force. When a man is found slain in a broken-down tenement, Reinhardt embarks on a gruesome investigation. It seems a serial killer is on the loose, and matters can only escalate…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New Fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand

This Mortal Boy book cover

New to the world, or new to Wellington City Libraries, these titles from local authors showcase a range of talents, beginning with Fiona Kidman’s new book about the ‘jukebox killer’ in Auckland in 1955. These tales explore New Zealand influences through eras and locations influencing lives we can recognise and feel kinship with.

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders?” (Catalogue)

The new animals / Adam, Pip
“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.” (Catalogue)

Death actually : Death. Love. And in between. / Fenwicke, Rosy
“Maggie never wanted to go into the family business, but when her parents die suddenly and her husband has abandoned her and their two children, what choice does she have? So she becomes a funeral director.” (Catalogue)
Set in Queenstown this book encompasses family trials and trivialities with good humour and great characters.

The new ships / Duignan, Kate
“Peter Collie is adrift in the wake of his wife’s death. His attempts to understand the turn his life has taken lead him back to the past, to dismaying events on an Amsterdam houseboat in the seventies, returning to New Zealand and meeting Moira, an amateur painter who carried secrets of her own, and to a trip to Europe years later with his family. An unexpected revelation forces Peter to navigate anew his roles as a husband, father and son. Set in Wellington after the fall of the Twin Towers, and traversing London, Europe and the Indian subcontinent, The New Ships is a mesmerising book of blood-ties that stretch across borders. A novel of acute moral choices, it is a rich and compelling meditation on what it means to act, or to fail to act.” (Catalogue)

Designer days : a story set in Thorndon, Wellington, 2009 / Mercer, R. D.
“‘Down into the dark cave’ Laura says to her baby, pushing the buggy into the underpass. Cave paintings? Yes, indeed, but among them some writing she does not expect to find. Laura and Eddie both resist being constrained by the timetables of office or school. They want the freedom to design their own days. Laura, an IT specialist, craves domesticity. Eddie resents being moved to High School in Wellington. Laura’s husband, Matt, begins to behave curiously.” (Catalogue)

The man who writes the dreams / Barrett, Pera
“A story about following dreams. People have stopped turning their dreams into done-things. Luckily for us, the man who writes the dreams is here to make things right.” (Catalogue)

Equinoctial gales : a story set in Wellington, 1939 / Mercer, R. D.
“There were those who liked to refer to the shopping area of Kelburn as ‘the village’. It gave it status. Did they have in mind some impossible idyll of an English village of established families, in which people knew their place and weather was predictable? The reality of Kelburn in 1930s New Zealand could not have been more different.  A chance event, a “sudden death”, connects the characters in one way or another… But no-one living in Wellington can ignore the weather. They are all affected by its fickleness, its days of violence and its days of blessed calm.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Alternative medicine / Solomon, Laura
“The stories in Alternative Medicine can be broadly defined as black comedy with a twist of surrealism… In ‘The Killing Jar’ a boy’s spider spies on his adulterous father and reports back to its owner. In ‘The New Heart’ a man experiences somebody else’s memories after receiving a heart transplant. The story ‘Mandy’ features a strangely obsessed protagonist. Everyday sadness at a refugee going blind is sketched out in ‘Blindness’. Childhood relationships are depicted in the short story ‘Pets’ and in ‘Piano Lessons/War Stories’ the narrator reflects upon her grandfather’s time fighting in World War 2.  The stories show human life in various forms and endeavours.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hilary and David / Solomon, Laura
“In Hilary and David, David, a lonely elderly struggling novelist, contacts Hilary, with whom he has a friend in common, via Facebook, and an unlikely friendship develops via a series of messages. The two begin to share details of their past and current lives. Hilary is a solo mother with two children. One of the children has Down’s Syndrome and the other has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Both are struggling… Through a series of messages, Hilary and David share their thoughts on life, the universe, men, women and everything else in between and provide companionship and advice for one another.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dogged Detectives and Feline Fatales

Lawyer for the Cat book cover

They say people are either dog people or cat people and the same definitely goes for animal detective stories. You might not be aware of the cat and dog sub-genre of detective novels, but they are usually (although not exclusively) fun, light-hearted and a perfect pick me up read.

These novels come in many different forms. In some the cats or dogs are companions to the sleuths, in others they are the sleuths themselves, and occasionally our furry friends are the source of the mystery. So here for your edification and entertainment are some of the finest feline and Fido crime-solving capers. (And for some reason we couldn’t find a cat and dog detective duo but surely there’s one out there somewhere.)


Syndetics book coverThe purrfect murder / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown ; illustrations by Michael Gellatly.
Rita Mae Brown has a huge, loyal following with Sneaky Pie Brown being her feline companion. She is best known for her fun, light-hearted detective novels such as The Purrfect Murder which will keep you both laughing and reading. Rita Mae Brown has also written for the screen, particularly horror movies, and published numerous non-fiction works on feminism and the civil rights movement in America – both movements she plays an active part in.

Syndetics book coverCat in a leopard spot : a Midnight Louie mystery / Carole Nelson Douglas.
A big game hunter is found dead and once again the feisty feline sleuth Midnight Louie leaps into action to solve the crime. This is the thirteenth instalment of this hugely popular series (currently twenty eight and still counting). Carole Nelson Douglas also writes several other series including the Irene Adler series and the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator series of novels.

Syndetics book coverLawyer for the cat : a novel / Lee Robinson.
Ace lawyer Sally Baynard is asked to represent Beatrice, the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar estate. It’s an everyday, commonplace case – only Beatrice is a black cat and other people have their eye on the money. As you would expect, Lawyer for the Cat features lots of good natured characters, many of them of a furry variety.

Syndetics book coverPaw and order : a Chet and Bernie mystery / Spencer Quinn.
Spencer Quinn’s seventh title in his New York Times bestselling series. Once again private eye Bernie and his canine companion and series narrator Chet set out to right wrongs and sniff out baddies. This time the detective duo is out to uncover a devilish plot in Washington D.C.

Syndetics book coverNew tricks / David Rosenfelt.
Another light-hearted canine detective series is David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenters series. New Tricks is a good example of his work: it revolves around the murder of a Bernese puppy-owner, and it’s up to irreverent defence attorney Andy Carpenter and his trusty golden retriever Tara to solve the case. Rosenfelt’s book is all very good natured and contains lots of laughs – perfect night cap book material.

Syndetics book coverSuspect / Robert Crais.
The final choice in this small selection of cat and dog detective books is an altogether more serious work: Robert Crais’s Suspect. Suspect deals with bereavement and the journey towards rebuilding one’s life and healing. LAPD cop Scott James is having to deal with the murder of his partner Stephanie whilst his new canine partner Maggie the German shepherd is back from three tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, where she lost her handler. It’s about how man’s best friend can form deep friendships that can help one to get over trauma.

Twisty-turny new Mystery novels

Wolf on a String book cover

The new additions to the mysteries collection offers readers a chance to explore the convoluted tales that authors have woven to intrigue their audience. Author Alexander McCall Smith continues investigating in Edinburgh with Isabel Delhousie. Northern and Southern European detectives, professional and otherwise feature in translated works from Norway and Sicily. Historical settings as historical links weave their way through some of these mysteries. With plenty to enjoy from the new mystery additions, just a few of them are highlighted below.

Auntie Poldi and the fruits of the Lord / Giordano, Mario
“Wine and murder – nothing is more likely to rouse Auntie Poldi’s love of the chase. Still relishing the notoriety from her spectacular resolution of the Candela case, Poldi is alive to the faintest whiff of criminality.What to others might seem a series of misfortunes – the water supply cut off, a poisoned dog – is clearly, to Poldi, an escalation: the Mafia have had her in their sights ever since she solved Valentino’s murder. Poldi has tasted blood. No one is above suspicion. And trouble will surely follow…” (Catalogue)

The ice swimmer / Dahl, Kjell Ola
“When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated… With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side… Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.” (Catalogue)

The quiet side of passion / McCall Smith, Alexander
“It is summer in Edinburgh and Isabel Dalhousie is once again caught between ‘gossip’ and significant rumour. It is none of her business that Patricia, the mother of her son Charlie’s little friend Basil, is estranged from Basil’s father, or that the woman has a somewhat brazen attitude to childcare. And yet, it is curious. Isabel, however, has much else on her mind as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics… What’s more, her instinct to help others may have put her in real danger. In her desire to run both a smooth household and working life, has she simply created more chaos? Perhaps the quiet side of passion is, after all, the best side on which to be?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wolf on a string : a novel / Black, Benjamin
“As Benjamin Black, John Banville… writes impeccable crime novels starring Dublin-based pathologist Quirke. Here he assumes his Black persona but travels back to 1599 Prague. Young Christian Stern, who arrives there with the winter snows to seek his fortune, finds a well-born woman with her throat cut in Golden Lane, next to the castle of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. Soon, at the behest of Rudolf himself, our stalwart hero is investigating the murder, which leads him to intrigue surrounding the throne.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Queen’s progress : a Kit Marlowe mystery / Trow, M. J
“1591. The Queen is embarking on a Royal Progress, visiting some of the grandest homes in England, and Kit Marlowe has been sent on ahead to ensure all goes smoothly. When his reconnaissance mission is derailed by a series of alarming and tragic incidents, Marlowe suspects there’s a conspiracy to sabotage the Progress. Who is pulling the strings – and why?” (Catalogue)

Dead if you don’t / James, Peter
“Shortly after Kipp Brown and his teenage son, Mungo, arrive at the stadium for their team’s biggest-ever football game, Mungo disappears. A short while later Kipp receives a text with a ransom demand and a warning not to go to the police if he and his wife want to see their son alive again. But as a massive, covert manhunt for the boy and his kidnappers begins, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace starts to realize that not all is what it seems.” (Catalogue)

Evelyn Crowley / Reid, Gordon
“After being compromised by involvement in a web of police corruption, Harry Becker is discharged from the New South Wales police force. Weighed down by regret, he commits to doing things right. Taking on what seems to be a simple investigative job, he discovers his client, Evelyn Crowley, has links to the underworld. The escalating drama develops into a dangerous love story that tests his character and new resolve… Is it possible for Harry to act honourably and survive the menace of the Mafia?” (Catalogue)

The deepest grave / Bingham, Harry
“DS Fiona Griffiths is bored. It’s been months since she had a good corpse. Then she gets news; not just of a murder, but of a decapitation, and one committed with an antique sword no less. All that, and, a murder scene laid out like a gruesome crossword clue… As Fiona starts to investigate, she finds evidence of a crime that seems to have its origins in King Arthur’s greatest battle.” (Catalogue)

The killing habit / Billingham, Mark
We all know the signs. Cruelty, lack of empathy, the killing of animals. Now, pets on suburban London streets are being stalked by a shadow, and it could just be the start. DI Tom Thorne knows the psychological profile of such offenders all too well, so when he is tasked with catching a notorious killer of domestic cats, he sees the chance to stop a series of homicides before they happen.” (Catalogue)

Death around the bend / Kinsey, T. E.
“September 1909, and Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence, have been invited to Lord Riddlethorpe’s country estate for a week of motor racing and parties. They both agree that it sounds like a perfectly charming holiday. But when one of the drivers dies in a crash during the very first race, they discover that what seemed like an uncharacteristic error in judgement may have a more sinister explanation.” (Catalogue)

New Contemporary fiction

Stories We Tell Ourselves book cover

We’ve had some fantastic new additions to the fiction collection, certain to entertain and intrigue through these long winter evenings. These titles bring diverse voices from an ex-president to a documentary maker turned author. A reprint of Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop shows the insight this British writer has for social politics, recently adapted into film. New action and suspense have real life experiences from Bill Clinton and outdoor adventurer Bear Grylls, and retellings from WWII yield mystery and humour with Warlight by Michael Ondaatje and Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce.

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

The President is missing / Clinton, Bill
“The President is Missing. The world is in shock. But the reason he’s missing is much worse than anyone can imagine. With details only a President could know, and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver.”  (Catalogue)

Stories we tell ourselves / Françoise, Sarah
“Frank and Joan’s marriage is at breaking point. Having spent three decades failing to understand each other in their unfinished house in the French alps, Joan’s frustrations with her inattentive husband have reached breaking point. Frank, retreating ever further into his obscure hobbies, is distracted by an epistolary affair with his long-lost German girlfriend. Things are getting tense. But it’s Christmas, and the couple are preparing to welcome home their three far-flung children.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Census / Ball, Jesse
“A widower with only a short time to live worries about the son he loves deeply, who has Down syndrome, and hopes he can give them more time together by signing up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau. The road trip that results leaves him with as many questions as answers.” (Catalogue)

Night-gaunts : and other tales of suspense / Oates, Joyce Carol
A collection of eerie tales from this prolific American author feature “an unusual game of Russian roulette involving a pair of Wedgewood teacups, a strong Bengal brew, and a lethal concoction of medicine. A Sunday school teacher’s corpse. A young outsider, Horace Phineas Love, Jr., is haunted by apparitions at the very edge of the spectrum of visibility after the death of his tortured father in Night-Gaunts, a fantastic ode to H.P. Lovecraft.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bookshop / Fitzgerald, Penelope
“In a small East Anglian town, Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. Hardborough becomes a battleground. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dear Mrs. Bird : a novel / Pearce, A. J.
“London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.” (Catalogue)

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

They know not what they do / Valtonen, Jussi
“Joe Chayefski has got what he always wanted: a reputation as one of America’s top neuroscientists, a beautiful wife and two perfect daughters. But his carefully created idyll is threatened when his lab is targeted by animal rights activists. The attack is followed by a phone call from Joe’s ex-wife in Finland. Two decades have passed since he abandoned Alina and their young son, Samuel, returning to America to advance his career. Joe struggles to protect his new family from the increasing threat of violence – he is forced to reconsider his priorities and take drastic action to save those he loves.” (Catalogue)

The world goes on / Krasznahorkai, László
“A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveller, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child labourer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils.  In The World Goes On, a narrator first speaks directly, then tells twenty-one unforgettable stories, and then bids farewell.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Obscura / Hart, Joe
“In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis–memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunt / Grylls, Bear
“1945, and the Nazis’ grand plans are in disarray. Defeat is imminent, so in a last attempt to protect their legacy, the high command hides their store of uranium deep underground, ready for them to fight another day. 2018, and ex-SAS soldier Will Jaeger stumbles upon this horrible truth. But the uranium is missing and, when he learns his wife Ruth has also been kidnapped, he’s certain the enemy is on the move once more…  But the enemy is always one step ahead, pushing Jaeger to the limit of his endurance. The danger is real, and the people who hold Ruth have a score to settle. It’s a race against time. And the clock is ticking.” (Catalogue)

New sci fi and fantasy selections

Space Opera book cover

Newly acquired science fiction titles provide a rich cornucopia of titles and authors from established award winning favourites like Stephen R. Lawhead, Joanne Harris and Catherynne M. Valente, to critically acclaimed works like Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (reissued to tie in with the recent movie). The icing on top of the cake for many will be the welcome rerelease of George R R Martin’s Nightflyers, again to tie in with a major new television series. So much to enjoy, so little time!

The testament of Loki / Harris, Joanne
“In this follow-up to The Gospel of Loki from protean Chocolat author Harris, Ragnarok, the anticipated end of the world, has come and gone. Loki finds himself stuck in the mind of a teenage girl whose friends have been preempted by other Norse gods, with Odin plotting to bring back Norse power. But will Loki cooperate? In the sequel to The Gospel of Loki, Loki’s adventures continue when he finds a way out of the end of the world and plans to restart the power of the Norse gods.” (Catalogue)

Space opera / Valente, Catherynne M.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth. A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented–something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.” (Catalogue)

Nightflyers / Martin, George R. R
“Featuring fifteen original full-color illustrations, this is the definitive edition of an electrifying tale that combines the deep-space thrills of Alien, the psychological horror of The Shining, and, of course, the inimitable vision of George R. R. Martin.
When a scientific expedition is launched to study a mysterious alien race, the only ship available is the Nightflyer, a fully autonomous vessel manned by a single human. But Captain Royd Eris remains locked away, interacting with his passengers only as a disembodied voice–or a projected hologram no more substantial than a ghost.” (Catalogue)

The hills have spies / Lackey, Mercedes
“In this new series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, Heralds Mags and Amily must continue to protect the realm of Valdemar while raising their children and preparing them to follow in their footsteps. Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife Amily are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Justyn, has the Gift of animal Mindspeech–he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. Justyn’s dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Herald Spy, but has yet to be Chosen by his horse companion.” (Catalogue)

Annihilation / VanderMeer, Jeff
“The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that “reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world” (Kim Stanley Robinson). Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.” (Catalogue)

By fire above / Bennis, Robyn
By Fire Above is the rip-roaring new adventure in Robyn Bennis’s Signal Airship military fantasy series.  “All’s fair in love and war,” according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown of Durum becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, “Nothing’s fair except bombing those Vins to high hell.” Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up Garnia’s military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated Mistral crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother. Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum–only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.” (Catalogue)

The queens of Innis Lear / Gratton, Tessa
“Tessa Gratton’s debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides. The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.” (Catalogue)

Wrath of empire / McClellan, Brian
“The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.” (Catalogue)

Artificial condition / Wells, Martha
“It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a research transport vessal named ART (you don’t want to know what the A stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…” (Catalogue)

Top picks from our latest graphic novels

Sirens book cover

Graphic novels continue to delight, thrill and amaze with their rich diversity of style and content and this months selection of releases are no exception from tales of jazz greats to primitive tribes existing on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

Mudbite featuring Dave Cooper’s Eddy Table. / Cooper, Dave
Mudbite compiles two all-new Eddy Table stories, ‘Mud River’ and ‘Bug Bite’, in which Eddy Table returns to his roots, acting as Dave’s alter ego in the dreamlike narratives. Eddy first appeared in the early ’90s in Dave Cooper’s award-winning underground comic series, Weasel. The stories are based on baffling dreams and a unique kind of logical nonsense, centering on encounters with voluptuous women and fantasy technology.” (Catalogue)

Total jazz / Blutch
“In these freewheeling short stories, vignettes, and sketches that originally appeared in Jazzman magazine, the famed French cartoonist examines not only the genre and its creators but the nature of the subculture. The grumpy festival-goer, the curmudgeonly collector, the anxious auditioner, and many others are his targets. As improvisional as Coltrane and Mingus, Blutch captures the excitement of live performance and of creating and listening to music.” (Catalogue)

Niourk / Vatine, Olivier
“On a post-apocalyptic Earth, where mankind has regressed to a handful of primitive tribes hunting and foraging for a meager, oppressed existence, a lone black child, shunned by other members of his tribe, sets out on an epic journey to what used to be known as New York, land of the gods! Written by Stefan Wul, author of cult favorite Fantastic Planet, illustrated by acclaimed French comics artist Olivier Vatine, this unusual hero’s journey is a memorable examination of a child’s compassion — and the human race’s cruelty.”(Catalogue)

Kill six billion demons. Book two, Wielder of dreams. / Parkinson-Morgan, Tom
“When her boyfriend is kidnapped by genocidal angels, Allison Ruth rushes to save him. Now this sorority sister/barista/business major is stranded in an alternate dimension and endowed with awesome – but incredibly inconvenient – power. There’s a way out, but it’ll take everything Allison has.” (Catalogue)

Sirens / Pérez, George
“As an intergalactic force enslaves planets across the galaxy, the legendary team known only as the Sirens must reunite to save the galaxy–but is that even possible when the Sirens themselves don’t remember who they are? And the rest of the universe only remembers them as…villains?” (Catalogue)

Secret weapons / Heisserer, Eric
“The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure.” (Catalogue)

Shadows on the grave / Corben, Richard
“Richard Corben follows up 2014’s Spirits of the Dead with a new collection of original short stories, ranging from gothic tales worthy of Poe, to Twilight Zone-style encounters with the weird, to a full-length fantasy epic featuring a barbarian reminiscent of Corben’s most notorious creation, Den, immortalized in the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal. Corben rose to prominence with short horror and science fiction stories in the early 1970s in Creepy and Eerie, which were later collected in Creepy Presents Richard Corben.” (Catalogue)

Get naked / Seagle, Steven T
“Where would you get naked? In the spirit of essayist David Sedaris and the sardonic travel monologues of Spalding Grey, comic writer Steven T. Seagle… turns his eye to a new form–the graphic essay. Nineteen emerging global cartoonists journey through Seagle’s personal observations of global attitudes about nudeness. Balancing raw comedy, raw emotions, and raw cartooning, the essays honestly chronicle Seagle’s place as an undressed, metaphorical fish out of water on different continents – from not recognizing a famous unclothed celebrity in Hollywood, to finding himself nude on the roof of a Berlin high-rise, to being eaten by literal fish in Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Incognegro : a graphic mystery / Johnson, Mat
“This tenth anniversary edition of the acclaimed and fearless graphic novel features enhanced toned art, an afterword by Mat Johnson, character sketches, and other additional material. In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could ‘pass’ among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going ‘incognegro’. (Catalogue)

The Battle of Churubusco : American rebels in the Mexican-American War / Ferraris, Andrea
“A soldier under fire faces a crisis of conscience in this remarkable work of historical graphic fiction. In 1847, Mexican suburb Churubusco was the stronghold of the San Patricios, a motley battalion of soldiers–even some runaway American slaves–who deserted the United States army for a just, if suicidal, cause.” (Catalogue)

Short stories at Central are on the move

Bibliomysteries book cover

Short stories at Wellington Central Library are being integrated into the general fiction collection. Authors’ short stories collections have always been a part of the browsing experience amidst the author’s other books on the fiction shelves; the anthologies and compilations are found by their title.

Here are some interesting fiction short story compilations, new and not so new, spanning a variety of subjects, themes, collections, countries and continents.  Closer to home, this year’s Matariki theme Te Ahi Ka – The Home Fires, relates to the title of our first anthology Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning. Great for the long winter evenings, these compilations will give readers something new to explore.


Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members Aotearoa/New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s international crime writing festival. This year New Zealand writers Fiona Sussman and Paul Cleave distinguished in the Ngaio Marsh awards are taking part.

Cli-fi : Canadian tales of climate change
“With the world facing the greatest global crisis of all time – climate change – personal and political indifference has wrought a series of unfolding complications that are altering our planet, and threatening our very existence. These stories of Climate Fiction (Cli-fi) feature perspectives by culturally diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works, and transcend traditional doomsday stories by inspiring us to overcome the bleak forecasted results of our current indifference.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Best British short stories
Best British Short Stories invites you to judge a book by its cover – or more accurately, by its title. This new series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere.” (Catalogue)

Australian short stories. No 66.
“After 65 issues of Australian Short Stories from 1982-2000 we are back with a sparkling new collection of stories. In this collection we feature Gillian Mears’ last story. We published Gillian’s first story when she was 23 and followed up with examples of her work for 16 years. There are also new stories by old favourites, Kim Scott, Carmel Bird and Barry Dickins plus a series of stories from writers in the early stages of their careers. Open at the first page and savour Australia.” (Catalogue)

Robots vs fairies
“It’s the ultimate death match between the mechanical and the magical! When the lasers cease firing and the fairy dust settles, who will triumph in these epic battles between the artificial and the supernatural? Choose a side…” (Catalogue)

Bibliomysteries : crime in the world of books and bookstores
“An anthology of specially commissioned stories set in literary venues includes contributions by such writers as Loren D. Estleman, Anne Perry, and Laura Lippman.” (Catalogue)

PEN America best debut short stories. 2017
Poets, Essayists and Novelists America promote literature and freedom of expression.  This collection features twelve authors from publications around the Unites States of America.  An interesting mix, with selection discussed by the editors behind their handpicked choices.


Wintery crime: Nordic Noir

The Man Who Died book cover

Exposing the shadowy side of Scandinavian life, these dark tales are gritty and unpredictable. This selection of recent titles from Scandinavia has authors from: Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Some are translated from the original, a couple feature writing partnerships that have created award winning television series, authors who have inspired movies and adaptations of classics in a modern setting.


The scarred woman / Jussi Adler-Olsen (from Denmark)
“The body of an elderly woman is found in a Copenhagen park, and since this book features Detective Carl Morck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, you can bet the case bears resemblance to an unsolved murder dating back a decade. The race is on, and if Morck doesn’t win this one, Department Q will be closed.” (Catalogue)

The silent girl : a Sebastian Bergman thriller /Michael Hjorth (from Sweden)
“An idyllic white, two-storey, beautiful house in Sweden. Inside, a family has been brutally murdered – mother, father and two young children all shot in broad daylight. And the killer has got away. Sebastian Bergman is at a dead end until he discovers a young girl saw it all happen has disappeared.  Bergman has to track the young girl down before it’s too late. But the killer is chasing her too – and he is determined to finish what he started.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The reckoning / Yrsa Sigurdardottir (from Iceland)
“In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait. This is the chilling message found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat… Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him busy and away from real police work. He turns to Freyja to help with the psychology of the child who hid the note. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.” (Catalogue)

Three minutes / Anders Roslund  (from Sweden)
Roslund & Hellstrom are a writing team consisting of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom. Follow the link to discover Roslund’s links to Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
“One-time Swedish government agent Piet Hoffmann is on the run: both from the life prison sentence, and from the Polish mafia. In order to survive, he ends up as bodyguard and hit man for the Colombian mafia, and is approached by the US DEA to infiltrate the same cartel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man who died / Antti Tuomainen  (Finland)
“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, markinng a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo (from Norway)
Adapted from the classic as part of the Hogarth Press Shakespeare series.  This grim retelling uses place as well as character to evoke the struggle of flawed individuals under the influence of the headiest of drugs, power. Macbeth is cast as an inspector unexpectedly finding himself in a place foretold by potion brewing sisters. ‘The Lady’ has her own designs on power both have laid out a path of disastrous consequences.

The girl in the woods / Camilla Läckberg  (from Sweden)
Popular author Camilla Lackberg has a series of books based in Fjllbacka as one of her creative pursuits.
“When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjllbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered. Detective Patrik Hedstrm starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.” (Catalogue)

The ice swimmer / Kjell Ola Dahl  (from Norway)
“When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated.  Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.” (Catalogue)

The shadow district / Arnaldur Indriðason (from Iceland)
“A 90-year-old man is found dead in his bed, smothered with his own pillow. On his desk the police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War, when a young woman was found strangled behind Reykjavik’s National Theatre. Konrad, a former detective, is bored with retirement, he grew up in “the shadow district” and remembers the crime. Why would someone be interested in that crime now? He starts his own unofficial enquiry.” (Catalogue)

Catch up on the latest fiction from New Zealand writers

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection of new material. There are several historical novels that bring into focus New Zealand’s political, cultural and social development over the last century. As well as a fabulous new Ngaio Marsh murder mystery completed by award winning author Stella Duffy and a new work from award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw called Mazarine.

Syndetics book coverMoney in the morgue / Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy.
“Roderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy. It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks. Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer. When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix murders? : the strange case of the Welly alley strangler / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“When Faith and her husband accidentally get involved in the weird life of Ponytail O’Gorman – a beguiling old fraudster – they have no idea how much he will disrupt their peaceful life in suburban Kilbirnie. But he convinces them to help him in his strange quest to find both his friend from prison, Simple Simon, and his own missing cell phone which is being sought by a bunch of desperate crooks as well as by the head of Wellington CIB. Determined to help the strangely charming little con-man – and so discover the truth about the notorious Welly Alley Strangler – they get carried along to a secretive location in beautiful Martinborough. In the process Faith confronts a collection of odd characters, who unknown to her were part of her husband’s life as a prison guard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A thin slice of heaven / Paul Wah.
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.”
(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMazarine / Charlotte Grimshaw.
“From award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw, this is a beautifully evocative, sensual portrayal of a woman’s search for freedom and love. When her daughter vanishes during a heatwave in Europe, writer Frances Sinclair embarks on a hunt that takes her across continents and into her own past. What clues can Frances find in her own history, and who is the mysterious Mazarine? Following the narrative thread left by her daughter, she travels through cities touched by terrorism and surveillance, where the concept of relatedness is subtly changed, and a startling new fiction seems to be constructing itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man who would not see / Rajorshi Chakraborti.
“When family suddenly becomes your greatest challenge, mystery, rediscovery . As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Crystal ReignCrystal reign / Kelly Lyndon.
“Former Navy Lieutenant Commander and MMA instructor David Johnson has it all: an amazing wife, three beautiful kids and a great job. He’s the man who can handle anything, and anyone – until his wife Chrissie is introduced to methamphetamine at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Slowly but surely, everything David has worked for and believed in is dramatically eroded as Chrissie’s addiction takes hold. Then Chrissie disappears without a trace. In his effort to find her, David gets drawn into the dark world of meth. As the months pass, he becomes more and more afraid that she has been killed, and that the police will suspect him for her murder. The story of one man’s fight to save his family from the drug that is engulfing and destroying New Zealand society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Eye of the SongbirdEye of the songbird / Michael Munro.
“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. She ¿s the target, Songbird, the woman he’s been told to bring down and here she is swinging helpless in a crevasse in Antarctica. What should Kirk Barnby, New Zealand secret service agent, do? Cut the rope? In this taut and exciting clash between environmental activism and nation-state determination, which ranges from Antarctica, Hong Kong, London, Istanbul and Wellington, two very determined people have to make a choice – political or personal?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA tale of love / Linda Lê ; translated from the French by Sian Robyns.
“Ylane and Ivan meet for the first time in the library of a psychiatric hospital, falling instantly and deeply in love. In the shelter of the clinic they find happiness, but release into the outside world is frightening and love becomes a struggle as reality intrudes. And yet this reality strangely has more in common with a fairy tale with its monsters and lost children and one true love. And like a fairy tale, there is always the sense of the narrator watching and writing it all down. This is a novel as much about the power of reading and writing to transform as it is about the transformation of love. Both give the young lovers the opportunity to recover and recreate themselves, but Ylane and Ivan discover that just as there are always two sides to a page, so there is no single answer to the questions that besiege them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoundary / by Paul W. Feenstra.
“July 1839, without the knowledge of the English Government, the ship Tory, stealthily departed Plymouth, determined to reach New Zealand with the utmost speed. The objective, to purchase millions of acres of lands at the lowest possible price and then build the perfect society. The New Zealand Company called the first settlement Britannia, a civilization without the shortcomings and failings of a troubled English culture. On board the Tory, a young Scottish couple indentured to the New Zealand Company are excited at the prospect of beginning a new life, Britannia is the Utopia they’ve been promised. This is the story of adversity, the struggle to survive in the hardships of a new colony, and their fight to preserve morality and integrity in the face of greed, deception and injustice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning / edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, Aaron Compton.
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift aimless, and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, at the same time sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secret keepers. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths, and beautiful possibilities…Te Korero Ahi Ka, a term which means to speak of the home fires burning, is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from both established and emerging members of the SpecFicNZ organisation of writers, poets, artists, and creatives. It is a statement about how New Zealand creators of speculative fiction and art shine their light on our literary landscape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)