The Wolf-Cub in the Pinafore Dress: New Fiction

Salt Slow is exemplary . . . Melancholy, powerful and poised. — China Mieville

There’s a host of great new fiction titles out this month, but perhaps the work we’re most excited about is Salt Slow. Salt Slow is the debut collection of short stories by the prize-winning Julia Armfield, and has been described as a combination of ancient mythology and contemporary observation. A woman burns her ex-boyfriend’s possessions (and toenails) at the bottom of the garden; a wolf-cub is clothed in a blue pinafore dress; a city forgets how to sleep . . .

Julia Armfield isn’t the only debut author with great new work: we’ve also got the irresistible Oksana, Behave! by Maria Kuznetsova as well as This Storm from literary giant James Ellroy. And of course there’s the English translation of Genki Kawamura’s Sekai kara Neko ga Kieta nara–aka If Cats Disappeared from the World. Enjoy!

Salt slow / Armfield, Julia
“This collection of short stories is about women and their experiences in society, about bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of its characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession and love. Throughout the collection, women become insects, men turn to stone, a city becomes insomniac and bodies are picked apart to make up better ones. Blending the mythic and the Gothic, Salt Slow is an extraordinary collection of short stories that are sure to dazzle and shock.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Oksana, behave! : a novel / Kuznetsova, Maria
“When Oksana’s family begins their new American life in Florida after emigrating from Ukraine, her physicist father delivers pizza to make ends meet, her depressed mother sits home all day and her flamboyant grandmother relishes the attention she gets when she walks Oksana to school. Oksana just wants to have friends and lead a normal life–and though she constantly tries to do the right thing, she keeps getting herself in trouble . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

This storm / Ellroy, James
“1941, war has been declared and the Japanese internment is in full swing. Los Angeles is gripped by war fever and racial hatred. Sergeant Dudley Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department is now Army Captain Smith and a budding war profiteer. Hideo Ashida is cashing LAPD paychecks and working in the crime lab, but he knows he can’t avoid internment forever. Then Ashida becomes obsessed with finding the identity of a body discovered in a mudslide . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Blood / Gee, Maggie
“When a corrupt, brutal dentist, Albert Ludd, is found battered and bloody after failing to attend a memorial party for his youngest son, suspicion falls on the dentist’s other children. Especially on Dad’s middle daughter, 37-year-old buxom bruiser Monica Ludd, who was heard ‘uttering threats’ against her absent father. How come her car is found outside Dad’s house? And why did she buy an axe?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

If cats disappeared from the world / Kawamura, Genki
“The postman’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage to keep him company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can tackle his bucket list, the Devil appears to make him an offer: In exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, our narrator will get one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The Farm / Ramos, Joanne
“Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks–a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry–where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules. Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost? A brilliant, darkly funny novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is unforgettable.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Necessary secrets / McGee, Greg
“Spanning the four seasons of a year, Necessary Secrets tells the story of Dennis (Den) Sparks and his three adult children. Starting with Den contemplating his mortality on the day of his 70th birthday, the year ahead is told from four different points of view. A searing picture of NZ society today, the family deals with love, loss, financial struggles, drugs, domestic violence and all the issues that Kiwis deal with daily.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

We, the survivors / Aw, Tash
“Ah Hock is an uneducated man born in a Malaysian fishing village and now trying to make his way in a country that promises riches to everyone, but delivers them only to a chosen few. With society changing around him, like many he remains trapped in a world of poorly paid jobs that just about allow him to keep his head above water but ultimately lead him to murder a migrant worker from Bangladesh. A confession–devastating, unblinking, unforgettable–which reveals a story of class, education and destiny.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Neil Gaiman, Author

The fabulous, ubiquitous, library-loving Neil Gaiman has just announced that his beloved Sandman series of graphic novels has been green-lit as an eleven-part Netflix series.

Described by Warner Brothers as a massive deal, Sandman will be one of the most expensive TV series ever made. Fans will be mega-excited by the news and desperate to see the final product–alas, still a long way off. Several previous attempts to film Sandman have fallen by the wayside with one potential director describing the series as “unfilmable”.

Neil Gaiman is of course no stranger to film and TV adaptations of his work or indeed writing directly for either medium. Just a brief overview of his writing credits brings such notable films and programmes as Good Omens, American Gods, Coraline, Stardust and Mirrormask as well as several Doctor Who episodes and one episode of Babylon 5!

Sandman was originally–and famously–pitched as a Wild Cards story to George R. R. Martin, but was turned down due to Neil Gaiman’s relatively unknown status at the time. Undeterred, Gaiman went on to write the graphic novels that would become the legends that they are. Here for your delight and entertainment is just a small sample of the numerous, wonderful Neil Gaiman titles we have for you in our libraries. Enjoy!


Syndetics book coverThe Sandman. Vol. 1, Preludes & nocturnes / Neil Gaiman, writer; Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, artists.
Also available as an Ebook “In Preludes and Nocturnes, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverAmerican gods [1]: shadows / story and words by Neil Gaiman; script and layouts by P. Craig Russell; art by Scott Hampton.
“This supernatural American road trip fantasy tells the story of a war between the ancient and modern gods. Shadow Moon gets out of jail only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated and broke, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard–thrusting Shadow into a deadly world where a god war is imminent.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Also available: American Gods the television series. Click here for availability of Season One.

Syndetics book coverStardust / Neil Gaiman; original frontispiece and chapter-opening art by Charles Vess.
Also available as an eAudiobookAmong the wondrous, beautiful, and strange literary offspring conceived by Neil Gaiman is his magical 1997 fantasy novel, Stardust, remains a top favorite. An enchanting adult fairy tale about a young man who travels beyond the boundaries of his small village to find a fallen star and win the heart of the woman he loves–the basis for the hit motion picture.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Also available: Stardust the film. Click here for availability.

Syndetics book coverGood omens / Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
Also available as an eAudiobook “There is a hint of Armageddon in the air. According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. So if they going to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the AntiChrist. There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverCoraline / Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Chris Riddell.
Also available as an eBook “There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Also available: Coraline the film. Click here for availability.

Syndetics book coverFragile things: short fictions and wonders / Neil Gaiman.
“Fragile Things is a sterling collection of exceptional tales from Neil Gaiman, multiple award-winning author. A uniquely imaginative creator of wonders whose unique storytelling genius has been acclaimed by a host of literary luminaries from Norman Mailer to Stephen King, Gaiman’s astonishing powers are on glorious displays in Fragile Things. Enter and be amazed!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverNorse mythology / Neil Gaiman.
Also available as an eAudiobook “Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

“To a new World of Gods and Monsters”. Our latest science fiction and fantasy showcase


To a new World of Gods and Monsters. Ha, ha. The creation of life is enthralling, distinctly enthralling, is it not?”
Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

In this month’s science fiction and fantasy showcase we have a fantastically varied selection of newly acquired titles, including New Zealander David Hair’s third book in his epic fantasy series The Sunsurge Quartet called Hearts of Ice; Alastair Reynolds’ Permafrost; Neil Asher’s latest called The Warship; Anne Bishop’s Wild Country and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin.  Amongst these literary riches we have another in a long line of books inspired by Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus first published in 1818 by the nineteen year old Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The latest literary luminary to be inspired by the work is Jeanette Winterson whose Frankissstein: A Love Story takes a  look specifically at gender fluidity, the meaning of love and desire, transformation and artificial intelligence in the light of this legend.

Syndetics book coverFrankissstein : a love story / Jeanette Winterson.
“In Brexit Britain, a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love  – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryonics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead… but waiting to return to life. But the scene is set in 1816, when nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley writes a story about creating a non-biological life-form. What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHearts of ice / David Hair.
“Summer is gone, and the world is turning to ice.  The Rondian Empress Lyra has lost her husband, her army is defeated and the deadly Masked Cabal have seized the Holy City. Lyra and her fellow dwymancers must master their deadly magic, whatever the cost. Even those who believe themselves to be fighting for good must grasp the reins of power with cold-hearted determination, and use even the most terrible weapon, if they are to stop the world from falling apart… for ever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPermafrost / Alastair Reynolds. (print) (ebook)
“Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. 2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChildren of ruin / Adrian Tchaikovsky. (print) (ebook)
“Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time. Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth. But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe warship / Neal Asher. (print) (ebook)
“Their nemesis lies in wait . . . Orlandine has destroyed the alien Jain super-soldier by deploying an actual black hole. And now that same weapon hoovers up clouds of lethal Jain technology, swarming within the deadly accretion disc’s event horizon. Yet behind her back, forces incite rebellion on her home world, planning her assassination. Earth Central, humanity’s ruling intelligence, knows Orlandine was tricked into releasing her weapon, and fears the Jain are behind it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWild country / Anne Bishop. (print) (ebook)
“There are ghost towns in the world – places where humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the Others. One of those places is Bennett, a town surrounded by wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children – one of whom is a blood prophet – hope to find acceptance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Overdrive coverExhalation / Ted Chiang. (print) (ebook)
“This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In ‘The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,’ a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary ‘Exhalation,’ an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. In Exhalation, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth – What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA brightness long ago / Guy Gavriel Kay.
“In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra’s intelligence won him entry to a renowned school, though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count – and soon learned why that man was known as The Beast. Danio’s fate changed the moment he recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count’s chambers one night – intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen a life of danger – and freedom – instead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Author Interview: Award-Winning Lee Murray – Part 3/3!

Please note: this is part three of our interview with Lee Murray. Please click here for part one and here for part two.

Lee Murray is an award-winning New Zealand author of science-fiction, fantasy and horror. She recently won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel with Into the Mist, book two of the Taine McKenna series, as well as Best Collected Work as one of three editors on Te Korero Ahi Kā. However Murray’s work isn’t limited to the page: she has also helped establish key writing communities in New Zealand and organise events such as GeyserCon, New Zealand’s 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.

To learn more about Murray’s work, check out her website here — or part three of our interview below. Enjoy!

You’ve also done a lot of other great work helping to develop the sci-fi, fantasy and horror writing community in New Zealand. What would you like to do next in terms of this?

Thank you. One of things I’m especially proud of is being co-founder and co-convenor of Young New Zealand Writers, a not-for-profit volunteer group established almost ten years ago to develop writing and publication opportunities for our youngest writers through a shared love of science fiction and fantasy. Young New Zealand Writers runs programmes for school students such as free-to-enter writing competitions, anthologies, mentorship, and our annual day Youth Day Out, which is occasionally held in conjunction with our national science fiction and fantasy convention. It’s a huge task, but every year the quality of the work and the talent of our students convinces me that forming new readers and writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror are some of the most important things we can do to keep the community vibrant.

There are a lot of other great ways to raise awareness. For example, Speculative Fiction Writers of New Zealand (SpecFicNZ) has just established a regular podcast, called none other than The SpecFicNZ Podcast, to focus on trends in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. With lively discussion and interviews by the group’s members, the podcast is still in its infancy, but definitely worth tuning in to for a listen. I notice some of the mainstream literary festivals, such as Featherston Booktown, the National Writers’ Forum, and the South Auckland Writers’ Festival, are introducing genre panels and presentations as part of their regular programming line-up, a trend which can only be promising for the genre. Of course, by far the best way to ensure the health and longevity of our local science fiction, fantasy, and horror community is for New Zealanders to read and recommend our work. That’s it. The more people read and rave about us, the better our chances of attracting the notice of local publishers and producers, and that in turn creates more opportunities for writers, which will improve the number and range of titles on offer for readers to enjoy, and so on and so forth. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of demand creating supply. You heard it here, folks!

What are your thoughts about CoNZealand next year? Will you be very involved?

I’m not at all involved in CoNZealand planning, although, if I can get together a few colleagues, I might propose a couple of panel presentations. Mostly, I’m looking forward to enjoying the convention as an attendee and welcoming a number of friends from overseas. I hope they’re as inspired as I am by our landscape, and our people, and that no one goes home without trying our wonderful hokey pokey ice cream.

As someone with an impressively busy schedule, what advice would you give to authors trying to fit their writing around other commitments?

I’m the worst person to ask this question because I am hopeless at saying no to those other commitments. Over and above my actual writing, I undertake a lot of mostly unpaid writing-related activities. I’ve already mentioned the national convention, and the Young New Zealand Writers group. In addition to those, I typically have several mentees on the go, a book or two I’ve been asked to blurb, a half dozen blogs I’ve promised to write, panel presentations to plan, reviews to write, and more than one commissioned work to edit. Last summer, I had to turn down a prestigious international judging opportunity as I had already committed to judging two other national competitions over the same time period. With my to-be-read stack teetering at 90 novels and 30 novellas, I couldn’t possibly squeeze in any more. As it was, I spent almost the entire summer in my hammock reading! The thing is, while many of those extra commitments take me away from my writing, they also contribute to my work by immersing me in all aspects of genre fiction. Plus, I get a sneak peak at some wonderful new work, while also having a hand in developing (and celebrating) the new talent coming through the ranks.

Ah. I think you are asking for suggestions on how to schedule your writing around paid work commitments as well as the demands of family and community. I am fortunate to write full-time, but many of my colleagues who work other jobs write in the early morning or late evenings when their children are in bed. Or perhaps they scribble furiously in a notebook on the train into work. I have a friend who does writing sprints in the car while her children are at their music lessons. One friend gets all their best ideas in the shower. Another finds their inspiration while out running. All trying to carve out writing time where they can. With the latest CNZ survey revealing that New Zealand writers average around $12,000 in annual earnings from their writing, the reality is most writers cannot make a living from their creative work. This means we are in danger of losing those middle voices, where writing becomes something people do only as students, or when they have retired from full-time work. On the other hand, it’s also true that writing seems to take the time available, so if you have an hour to spare, then the poem or drabble will take you an hour to write, whereas if you can afford to invest a week, the same piece will invariably require the full week. So, perhaps there is some merit in having at least some pressure on us to make our time profitable. I should add here that, even at my fastest, I’m an incredibly slow writer, producing only 500-1000 words daily. Still, I console myself that Hemingway wrote just 500 words a day and yet his body of work comprises an impressive 10 novels, 17 collections of short fiction, two books of poetry, and nine works of non-fiction (albeit some published posthumously).

Author Interview: Award-Winning Lee Murray – Part 2/3!

Please note: this is part two of our interview with Lee Murray. Please click here for part one.

Lee Murray is an award-winning New Zealand author of science-fiction, fantasy and horror. She recently won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel with Into the Mist, book two of the Taine McKenna series, as well as Best Collected Work as one of three editors on Te Korero Ahi Kā. However Murray’s work isn’t limited to the page: she has also helped establish key writing communities in New Zealand and organise events such as GeyserCon, New Zealand’s 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.

To learn more about Murray’s work, check out her website here — or part two of our interview below. Enjoy!

The Path of Ra series is also a distinctly New Zealand work. Have you received much feedback from both local and international readers in regards to the story’s setting or language?

The Path of Ra is a collaborative series which I co-author with my friend and colleague, Dan Rabarts. Having already worked together with some success on a couple of anthology projects, Dan and I decided to join forces, taking a he-said / she-said approach to a futuristic supernatural thriller. When we started working on the novella — yes, it was going to be a novella and it accidentally turned into a three-book series — with both of us being Kiwi, there was no doubt that we would set our story in New Zealand. We selected a near-future Auckland as the setting, partly for its geography, its sprawling urban spread, and especially for its recognisable landmarks such as One Tree Hill, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the downtown waterfront, and the iconic Sky Tower. As far as feedback from our readers about the setting and language goes, here’s what some of them had to say:

“The descriptions of the scenes, including a dark version of Auckland and the surrounding countryside, really worked for me.”

“…a fast-moving futuristic novel with a great New Zealand flavour and supernatural thrills on the side.”

“Setting the novel in near future New Zealand is so brilliant! I’ve never read another novel with that setting, so it feels fresh in a genre that frequently feels overused and stale.”

“The unusual setting in a bleak near-future New Zealand added to the dark atmosphere. Also, it was interesting to learn several New Zealand and Māori phrases, thanks to the glossary thoughtfully added at the end of the book.”

“Set in the Auckland of the future, an energy-starved darker version of itself, the story manages to seamlessly combine a nod to culturally insightful supernatural elements with the clarity that only science can provide.”

I think, when we read fiction, we like to be transported to somewhere fresh and exotic, as Roald Dahl writes in Matilda: “…books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives.” For our Path of Ra stories, Dan and I believed that Auckland in the 2040s could be that new world, a city sweltering though the effects of rapid climate change where fuel and food shortages have an impact on everyday lives, and where the underworld draws inexorably nearer. Our readers seem to like it.

In terms of language, our tendency to use Kiwi vernacular in our writing has proved to be very entertaining during the editing process. For example, when we submitted Hounds of the Underworld to the publisher, our editor mentioned a possible Freudian slip. Did we know that Penny had called for the laboratory fume hoods to be turned up full tit? Shouldn’t that be full tilt? New Zealand is the only country in the world to use that particular turn of phrase. We love providing that uniquely Kiwi context by adding words like chur, ropeable, and Weet-Bix to our stories. We also love that after working with us for three years, our American publisher immediately knows what we mean when we talk of whānau, whāngai, and wairua. Using these local terms allows New Zealand readers to recognise the backdrop as being distinctly Kiwi, while also offering a fresh landscape for our international readers.

However, when we use these terms, we’re careful to provide context, so the word is understood, making the reading experience an enjoyable one, without overly taxing the reader. It’s one thing to provide a strong Kiwi flavour, and another to clobber your reader over the head with it. Sometimes though, we’ll change a term to something simpler, just to avoid a reader stumbling over an unfamiliar expression in a crucial scene. For example, in an early draft of Teeth of the Wolf, my character, Penny, mentions that Cerberus was ‘full of beans’, and our editor questioned why the Labrador was fed just a page later. In the final text, we agreed that the dog should be full of energy, since no actual beans were consumed! Happily, our publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press, is hugely supportive of diverse voices, and I suspect the company’s focus on authenticity is, in part, the reason the house was awarded this year’s international Horror Writers Association’s Specialty Press Award.

You were the programme director at GeyserCon this year – what did the role involve? (And were you able to enjoy the convention as a fan as well?)

Being programme director for one of our national science fiction and fantasy conventions means around two years of weekend volunteer work — and a willingness to relinquish your soul. I’m kidding, of course, although not when it comes to the amount of work. Mostly, the role involves being completely potty about science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and having the connections and the firepower to persuade, cajole, or press-gang your colleagues into sharing their talent and their expertise. After that, it’s simply a matter of ensuring your panellists and presenters offer topics and activities that you’d be excited to attend yourself. So, despite the fact that I was running around like a headless chicken checking on things most of the weekend, I got to experience a lot of the activities and discussions on offer. I can honestly say GeyserCon was a wonderful experience.

This year’s event included cosplay and gaming streams, as well as an industry stream for writers, screenwriters, and poets. The presentations included fight scenes, writing from found objects, designing fantasy maps, planning for a geothermal apocalypse, designing Victoriana costumes from op shop materials, cosplay make-up, gaming for kids, creating zines, and a hilarious horror-thriller debate. Fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror were simply spoiled for choice. One of the best things about our national conventions is that with just 200-300 attendees, the numbers aren’t too overwhelming, which makes them a good opportunity for introverted geeky sorts like me to network with friends, catch up with new trends, and generally immerse themselves in all things genre. I almost always come home with more books than I have time to read, too.

For part three of our interview with Lee Murray, please click here.

Author Interview: Award-Winning Lee Murray – Part 1/3!

In the bio section of her website, author Lee Murray describes herself as a New Zealand-based writer of fantasy, science fiction and horror. While this description is correct, with Murray publishing a range of award-winning speculative fiction, it doesn’t really capture the scale or importance of her role in New Zealand’s writing community.

Looking through previous Sir Julius Vogel Awards lists, one of the first things you’ll notice is the regularity of Murray’s name among the finalists. This includes her Taine McKenna series, now on its third book with Into the Ashes, as well as the Path of Ra series co-written with author Dan Rabarts. The initial installment, Hounds of the Underworld, has been called “a wild and gruesome treat, packed with mystery, action and dark humour.”

Murray’s work hasn’t been limited to the page. She’s helped to establish key writing communities in New Zealand, as well as editing several local speculative fiction anthologies including the award-winning Te korero ahi kā. And when she’s not writing, editing or mentoring, Murray helps organise events such as GeyserCon, New Zealand’s 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.

To discover more of Murray’s work, check out her website here–or part one of our interview below. Enjoy!

You recently released Into the Ashes, book three in the Taine McKenna series. What first inspired you to write a thriller series with a local setting, and why do you think it’s been an overlooked genre in New Zealand writing in the past?

New Zealand inspired me! What better setting for an adventure? New Zealand offers landscapes and geology and legends which make it the perfect setting for a thriller adventure. The Taine Mckenna series features the Urewera mountain ranges, the soaring cliffs and icy channels of the Fiordland sounds, and the raw energy and bleak isolation of the Central Plateau. The series concept was, quite literally, inspired by our landscape, the idea coming to me while I was out running in the bush. Before sustaining an injury, I used to run marathons — completing 25 marathons and a couple of ultramarathons — which meant a lot of time running on trails.

While our New Zealand terrain can be dangerous, especially if weather conditions change rapidly, the bush doesn’t offer up a lot of beasties. There are no mountain lions, no snakes and no grumpy bears. Probably, the worst thing a runner is likely to come across is a wētā or two, or maybe a swarm of wasps. Out on the road, you might meet a stray pig dog, or a herd of cows on the way to milking, but I’ve never encountered anything on a bush trail. I was discussing this with some friends while running on a bush trail, and it occurred to me ‘what if there was something?’ and ‘what might that be?’ and the idea for Into the Mist evolved from there. I went home and opened a file which I optimistically called “Global Blockbuster” and that was how the series came about.

By the time I came to write the third book, Into the Ashes, not only did I have a contract to fulfill, readers were hanging out to see what would happen between Taine and Jules and whether Temera would regain his gift for seeing. Again, my inspiration for the third story came entirely from the New Zealand landscape. I was on a road trip with my son and husband and we were passing through the Central Plateau on a spectacularly clear day, and I remember thinking the region would make the perfect backdrop for a story. There were the mountains, the supervolcano, the lakes, the army training grounds, and all the wonderful local legends and mythology associated with the area. Adding to that, one of our greatest fears here in ‘The Shaky Isles’ is a dread of ‘the big one’: a massive volcanic-earthquake event. My mind was racing. Then my son said, “Mum, you should call your book Into the Ashes.” And that was it. The idea was born, and the eventual book became my personal favourite in the series.

I agree that too few adventure-thrillers are set against our local landscape though, and I’m not entirely sure why that is. I suspect those manuscripts exist, but with our local publishing industry’s focus on literary titles, genre authors are having to travel further afield to find homes for their work. As Bilbo Baggins says in Tolkien’s The Hobbit: “We don’t want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.” Often, New Zealand’s genre writers are published by smaller or foreign presses with smaller publicity budgets, which means our work is less likely to appear in local bookstores and libraries or come to the attention of New Zealand’s reviewers.

Pleasingly, there are signs that the situation is changing. For example, Craig Sisterson’s New Zealand Crime and Mystery Writers’ group is gaining some notice, with its annual Ngaio Marsh Awards showcasing new mystery-thriller works and authors, although the focus remains on real-world procedurals in the vein of Paul Cleave and Vanda Symon. Alan Carter’s Malborough Man is a good example, the novel starring UK detective, Nick Chester, who is forced to relocate to New Zealand after botching an undercover case. Gaining ground in the speculative thriller-adventure arena is Waikato writer Adrian J. Smith, the author of fast-paced New Zealand-based monster adventures in Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s bestselling Extinction world. Smith tells me he is writing an original title which also uses a Kiwi backdrop, so that will be one to watch for. Happily for me, the McKenna military thriller with its strong local focus appears to have filled a neglected niche in the market and its novelty may account, in part, for the series’ success, with Into the Mist and Into the Sounds winning the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

For part two of our interview with Lee Murray, please click here.

A novel take on desire and longing

This month’s new romance novels have something for everyone, from the outstandingly popular online series After by Anna Todd to Jenny Colgan’s warmth and smiles in The Bookshop on the Shore. We’ve also got a charming new twist on Pride and Prejudice from Uzma Jalaluddin!

From the racy to the retiring, these recent additions to our romance collection are sure to enchant and beguile. Enjoy!

Tell me lies : a novel / Lovering, Carola
“Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother–whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

The bookshop on the shore / Colgan, Jenny
“Zoe is a single mother, sinking beneath the waves trying to cope by herself in London. Hari, her gorgeous little boy is perfect in every way – except for the fact that he just doesn’t speak, at all. Then Hari’s aunt suggests Zoe could move to Scotland to help run a bookshop. Going from the lonely city to a small village in the Highlands could be the change Zoe and Hari desperately need.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

Loving Sylvie / Smither, Elizabeth
“A sensual, witty novel that weaves together the stories of three women, beautifully written by one of our most clever wordsmiths. Elizabeth Smither takes us into the richly imagined worlds of three women, written with such beautifully deft skill as to make them vivid and alive.” (Catalogue.)

Ayesha at last / Jalaluddin, Uzma
“Ayesha  Shamsi has a lot going on. Though she’s lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Ayesha’s cousin Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A love story for bewildered girls / Morgan, Emma
“Grace has a ‘full and interesting life’ – which is code for not married. Her life is the envy of her friends, but all this time she has been waiting in secret for love to hit her so hard that she would run out of breath. When Grace meets a beautiful woman, she falls suddenly and desperately in love. At the same party, lawyer Annie meets the man of her dreams. And across the city, Violet, who is afraid of almost everything, is making another discovery of her own . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

The girl he used to know / Garvis Graves, Tracey
“Annika Rose likes being alone. She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago. Annika Rose likes being alone. Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.” (Catalogue.)

A summer to remember / Moorcroft, Sue
“WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems! WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends. WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

After / Todd, Anna
“Book One of the After series–the Internet sensation with millions of readers. Tessa didn’t plan on meeting H. during her freshman year of college. But now that she has, her life will never be the same.” (Catalogue.)

Star crossed / Darke, Minnie
“When Justine Carmichael (Sagittarius, aspiring journalist and sceptic) bumps into her old friend Nick Jordan (Aquarius, struggling actor and true believer) it could be by chance. Or it could be written in the stars. Justine works at the Alexandria Park Star – and Nick, she now learns, relies on the magazine’s astrology column to guide him in life. Looking for a way to get Nick’s attention, Justine has the idea of making a few small alterations to ‘Aquarius’ before it goes to print. What harm could it possibly do?” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

What’s popular at the Library this month? Fiction top 10

Wellington readers have been catching up with popular authors and characters, from quirky geneticists to mysterious drifters. A new voice in thriller writing will leave you unsettled in the suburbs and a polished hand at romance and family connections deftly delivers insights and delights in chance opportunities.

The most borrowed fiction titles this month lead with the Venetian curiosities of Commissario Brunetti, by Donna Leon, where private lives and inheritance laws lead to twisted results amongst a tight group of friends.  The popular Rosie series by Graeme Simsion reaches it’s conclusion with The Rosie Result. The first two books didn’t spell out autism or being ‘on the spectrum’, but the third book jumps in to tackle the issue.  As a family facing daily hurdles together they look at identity and how a defining aspects of personality can influence your own life path and the way people view you. Heartwarming and funny this book is a great way to wrap up with these characters.  

First time novel writer Gill Thompson was inspired to write by the formal apology of two Prime Ministers to the child migrants from England to Australia.  Many shipped off under false pretenses, lied to about their parents and forced to create new lives. Thompson interviewed, wrote and rewrote many drafts over nine years determined her research and writing would connect readers to events from over sixty years ago. The oceans between us tells of a separated mother and son and the emotional impact on their lives.

1 Unto us a son is given, by Donna Leon
2 The Rosie result, Graeme C Simsion
3 I owe you one, by Sophie Kinsella
4 Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
5 Past tense, by Lee Child
6 Normal people, by Sally Rooney
7 Nine perfect strangers, by Liane Moriarty
8 The oceans between us, by Gill Thompson
9 The midnight line, by Lee Child
10 My lovely wife, by Samantha Downing

Unto us a son is given / Leon, Donna (print)
“As a favour, Commissario Guido Brunetti agrees to investigate the seemingly innocent wish of the Count’s best friend, the elderly and childless Gonzalo, to adopt a younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws, this man would become the sole heir to Gonzalo’s substantial fortune. Not long after Brunetti meets with Gonzalo, the elderly man unexpectedly passes away from natural causes. When Berta, a striking woman and one of Gonzalo’s closest confidantes, is strangled in her hotel room, Brunetti is drawn into long-buried secrets from Gonzalo’s past. What did Berta know? And who would go to such lengths to ensure it would remain hidden?” (Catalogue)

The Rosie result / Simsion, Graeme C (print) (eBook)
“Don and Rosie are back in Melbourne after a decade in New York, and they’re about to face their most important project. Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards. For Don Tillman, geneticist and World’s Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new. It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world, and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity. And opening a cocktail bar.” (Catalogue)

I owe you one / Kinsella, Sophie (print) (eBook)
“Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour. That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb- big time. Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves. Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? ” (Catalogue)

The oceans between us / Thompson, Gill (print)
“A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who she is. Only that she has lost something very precious. As the little boy waits in the orphanage, he hopes his mother will return. But then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia, the promise of a golden life ahead, and wonders: how will she find him in a land across the oceans? In Perth, a lonely wife takes in the orphaned child. But then she discovers the secret of his past. Should she keep quiet? Or tell the truth and risk losing the boy who has become her life?” (Catalogue)

The midnight line / Child, Lee (print) (eBook)
“Reacher sees a West Point class ring in a pawn shop window. It’s tiny. It’s a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Why would she give it up? Reacher was a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.
All he wants is to find the woman.
He’ll have to go through bikers, cops, crooks, and low-life muscle.
If she’s ok, he’ll walk away. If she’s not … he’ll stop at nothing.
Best advice: stay out of his way.” (Catalogue)

My lovely wife / Downing, Samantha (print)
Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with. We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive. Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.” (Catalogue)

New Tales for Long Winter Nights

Our latest fiction offers a diverse range of titles, from embellished folk tales and Shakespearean plays to modern surrealist creations. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi resonates with our deep familiarity of “once upon a time”, Mark Haddon’s The Porpoise riffs on a minor Shakespearean tale and in Improvement Joan Silber’s award-winning title explores the complex interweaving of small events affecting the lives around us.

We’ve also got eerie short stories from Argentinian author Samanta Sweblin and translator Megan McDowell, while New Zealand author Maxine Alterio delivers a swift, menacing tale with The Gulf Between. Great winter reading for those long, dark evenings!

The gulf between / Alterio, Maxine
“A foreigner is seriously injured not far from Julia’s safe Queenstown hideaway. Why does he have her name in his wallet? His unexpected arrival takes Julia back forty-five years to London, where as an impulsive young woman she first met Benito Moretti–a meeting that was to change her life, taking her to the glittering Gulf of Naples. There Julia found herself pitted against her belligerent mother-in-law and Benito’s sinister brother in a lethal battle for her husband and children.” (Catalogue)

The runaways / Bhutto, Fatima
“Anita’s mother is a maalish wali, paid to massage the tired bones of rich women. But Anita’s life will change forever when she meets her elderly neighbour. On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city. But when a rebellious girl joins his school, Monty will find his life going in a very different direction. Sunny’s father left India and went to England to give his son the opportunities he never had. Yet Sunny doesn’t fit in anywhere. These three lives will cross in the desert . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The braid / Colombani, Laetitia
“Smita is an untouchable, her job to clean with her bare hands the village latrines. Giulia is a worker in her father’s wig workshop. She washes, bleaches and dyes the hair. When her father is the victim of a serious accident, she quickly discovers her family have been living a lie. Sarah is a reputed lawyer. Just as she is about to be promoted, she learns she has breast cancer. Her seemingly perfect existence begins to show its cracks. Three lives, bound by a rare expression of courage.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The porpoise / Haddon, Mark
“A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash. She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world. When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail. So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Gingerbread / Oyeyemi, Helen
“Perdita Lee may appear your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The altruists / Ridker, Andrew
“Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can’t afford his mortgage, he’s exasperated his much younger girlfriend, and his kids won’t speak to him. And then there’s the money–the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Improvement / Silber, Joan (print) (eBook)
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. A novel that examines conviction, connection and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki’s beloved Turkish rugs and as colourful as the tattoos decorating Reyna’s body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us. Silber’s most shining achievement yet.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Mouthful of birds: stories / Schweblin, Samanta
“The crunch of a bird’s wing. Abandoned by the roadside, newlywed brides scream with rage as they are caught in the headlights of a passing car. A cloud of butterflies, so beautiful it smothers. Unearthly and unexpected, these stories burrow their way into your psyche with the feel of a sleepless night. Every shadow and bump in the dark takes on huge implications, leaving the pulse racing–blurring the line between the real and the strange.” (Catalogue)

Readers’ Choice reviews : How did they rate it?

Have you read a library book that you can’t wait to tell people about? The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

This Reader’s Choice selection features a great swathe of genres.  From suspense filled thrillers to feel good literature filled with laugh out loud content. There is edgy commentary on modern policy in Dave Eggers’ The Parade. The struggle between generations is played out in Trick, where a lengthy baby sitting gig leaves a grandfather and grandson alone with each other in Naples. Sail Away by Celia Imrie shows that age is no barrier to adventure. And a change in tone comes from Robert Galbraith and Tami Hoag where investigation teams struggle with evidence and their personal lives.

The boy / Hoag, Tami
“In the sleepy Lousiana town of Bayou Breaux, the police arrive to find Genevieve Gauthier cradling her seven-year-old son in her arms as he bleeds to death. The scene is chaotic, but as Detective Nick Fourcade moves through the house, he sees no evidence of a robbery. Detective Annie Broussard sits with Genevieve, trying to make sense of her story. The next day, thirteen-year-old Nora Florette is reported missing. The town is up in arms, with parents fearing a maniac is preying on the children of Bayou Breaux. As Fourcade and Broussard dig into their case, they find something shocking about Genevieve Gauthier’s past. She is both victim and the accused; a grieving mother and a woman with a deadly secret.”(Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “This book was impeccable! Exploring themes of power, abuse, infidelity and bullying, I was hooked by the second chapter. Hoag leaves you guessing until the very end. Would absolutely recommend! Oh and Annie & Nick #POWERCOUPLE”.

Sail away / Imrie, Celia print, (eBook)
“Suzy Marshall is discovering that work can be sluggish for an actress over sixty . So when her agent offers her the plum role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, it seems like a godsend. Until, that is, the play is abruptly cancelled, and Suzy is forced to take a job on a cruise ship to get home.
Meanwhile Amanda Herbert finds herself homeless in rainy Clapham. Her flat purchase has fallen through. Then she spots an advertisement for an Atlantic cruise. As the two women set sail on a new adventure, neither can possibly predict the strange characters and dodgy dealings they will encounter nor the unexpected rewards they will reap.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “This is an enjoyable book. Celia Imrie has wisely centred it around the world of acting, which she obviously knows well.  The plot is a bit telegraphed at times but has enough twists and turns to keep me interested.”

Absolutely smashing it / Wallace, Kathryn
“Gemma is only just holding it together – she’s a single parent, she’s turning 40 and her seven-year-old daughter has drawn a cruelly accurate picture which locates Gemma’s boobs somewhere around her knees. So when her new next-door neighbour, Becky, suggests that Gemma should start dating again, it takes a lot of self-control not to laugh in her face. But before long Gemma finds herself juggling a full-time job, the increasingly insane demands of the school mums’ Facebook group and the tricky etiquette of a new dating world. It’s going to be a long year – and one in which Gemma and Becky will learn a really crucial lesson: that in the end, being a good parent is just about being good enough.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Hilarious laugh out loud stuff if you’re a recent female divorcee. Quick flowing storyline with real antics and life snapshot. Brilliant.”

Trick / Starnone, Domenico, translated by Jhumpa Lahari
“Imagine a duel between an elderly man and a mere boy. The same blood runs through their veins. One, Daniele Mallarico, is a successful illustrator whose reputation is slowly fading. The other, Mario, is his four-year-old grandson. Daniele has been living in a cold northern city for years, in virtual solitude, focusing obsessively on his work, when his daughter asks if he would come to Naples for a few days and babysit Mario while she and her husband attend a conference. Shut inside his childhood home — an apartment in the centre of Naples that is filled with the ghosts of Mallarico’s past — grandfather and grandson match wits as Daniele heads toward a reckoning with his own ambitions and life choices.
Outside the apartment, pulses Naples, a wily, violent, and passionate city whose influence can never be shaken.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Enjoyed this book. I decided to read the introduction when I had finished too technical for me.  Early stages of the book were not that clear, but it came together toward the end. Loved the imagery and felt for both Grandpa and the four year old.”

The rip / Brandi, Mark
“A young woman, living on the street has to keep her wits about her. Or her friends. But when the drugs kick in that can be hard. Anton has been looking out for her. She was safe with him. But then Steve came along. He had something over Anton. Must have. But he had a flat they could crash in. And gear in his pocket. And she can’t stop thinking about it. A good hit makes everything all right. But the flat smells weird. There’s a lock on Steve’s bedroom door. And the guy is intense. The problem is, sometimes you just don’t know you are in too deep, until you are drowning.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “An amazing, grippingread that delves into the story of a young woman conquering the odds around drug addiction.  Darker themes but incredibly written, each sentence drew me further own the rabbit hole.”

Lethal white / Galbraith, Robert
‘I seen a kid killed . . . He strangled it, up by the horse.’ When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled.  But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic. Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott – once his assistant, now a partner in the agency – set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I had seen the TV series C. B. Strike so was keen to read this. It lived up to expectations although I felt the tying up of the ends is a bit rushed and not quite in the same vein as the rest. All in all sad to get to the end and a great read. Definitely recommended.”

The parade : a novel / Eggers, Dave
” An unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade at war, and to commemorate the armistice the government commissions a new road connecting two halves of the state. Two men, foreign contractors from the same company, are sent to finish the highway. While one is flighty and adventurous, wanting to experience the nightlife and people, the other wants only to do the work and go home. But both men must eventually face the absurdities of their positions, and the dire consequences of their presence. With echoes of J. M. Coetzee and Graham Greene, this timeless novel questions whether we can ever understand another nation’s war, and what role we have in forging anyone’s peace.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and I found the place setting intriguing and the conflict between the characters amusing.  The ending was abrupt but it left me thinking.  All in all it was a good book, challenging but had a good pace – would recommend!”

Widows’ revenge / La Plante, Lynda
“Against all the odds, Dolly Rawlins and her gangland widows managed the impossible: a heist their husbands had failed to pull off – at the cost of their lives. But though they may be in the money, they’re far from easy street. Shocked by her husband’s betrayal, Dolly discovers Harry Rawlins isn’t dead. He knows where the four women are and he wants them to pay. And he doesn’t just mean getting his hands on the money. The women can’t keep running. They have to get Harry out of their lives for good. But can they outwit a criminal mastermind who won’t hesitate to kill? Especially when one of them has a plan of her own . . . to kill or be killed. The sequel to Lynda La Plante’s groundbreaking thriller, Widows – now a major feature film.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent read! Full of action and credible characters”