Wellington author interview: Pip Adam

Author image by Victoria Birkinshaw

Spacious open plan living. Nest or invest. Classy urban retreat. If you’ve spent a bit of time browsing real estate brochures, you’ve probably read these words before. But there’s another, darker story of renting and home ownership in New Zealand, one without floor plans or glossy full-page photos: The New Animals, by Pip Adam.

Adam’s work has appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, with her short story collection Everything We Hoped For published in 2010 and her debut novel I’m Working on a Building in 2013. She’s been described as “the woman who is making literature subversive fun in this country again… The most wired-in to the seething discontent below the housing bubble.” So put down the brochure and get a copy of The New Animals today!

The blurb for The New Animals references intergenerational tension, however the story also looks at tensions of class, wealth and gender. What was it like shaping a story around these conflicts?

I always think conflict and complexity give ‘life’ to stories. It seems like a boringly obvious thing to say but it is also constantly a surprise to me. I often use writing to sort out things that confuse me about life and I guess confusion is often a state of conflict for me – one idea against another, or maybe things acting in ways that don’t gel with my world view that cause a disruption to the things I believe and understand. For me it is always scary writing about people who I am not, but I have always loved the idea of trying to imagine myself into a mindset that seems confusing to me. Like often I might see someone do something and I have this idea that people always act in ways they see as ‘good’ or ‘right’. I’ve met lots of people and no one ever seems to make decisions by thinking ‘this is wrong thing to do’, even people who have broken the law. So yeah, I am always interested in trying to imagine myself into a mindset that would see decisions I see as odd as the ‘right’ decision.​ I enjoyed it particularly in this work because it was a bit like Sudoko or those tile puzzles, where someone would act and there would be a domino tumble of other people being forced to act.

You recently talked about your relationship with fashion – its power and ability to answer societal questions, but also its environmental impact. How did you approach this in The New Animals, especially with fashion playing such a large role in the story?

I am really interested in design of all types, particularly the form and function, or form versus function. Before I started the book I had this love of fashion which I think was a hangover from my hairdressing days. Like I loved seeing how fashion changed and yeah, also I really like looking at beautiful things. For this book I started taking a more intense interest. I became a rampant foll​ower of fashionable people and people in the fashion industry. I just consumed everything I could. I visited shops as well, touched the clothes, saw them on the hangar and on people. I was also really interested in the history of fashion and some of the theories around fashion. I am especially obsessed with the work of Rei Kawakubo and the way she deconstructs the human form. I love the play of her work but also the real seriousness and almost horror of some of her work. I am also quite obsessed with Alexander McQueen’s life and work – in a lot of cases the violence of it. One of the hard things about writing about fashion is that it is often talked about in quite ‘light’ ways. I had to read very deeply to find the language that had weight and importance. There is a risk that fashion can seem shallow because, I think, it is ephemeral and seems to be about adornment when often it is about so much more.

The New Animals is very grounded in Auckland. How do you think the city’s geography helped with the story?

I really love Auckland. I grew up there and I visit a lot.​ It’s interesting you ask about geography because I think it is a really interesting city that way. Like you have that massive volcanic basin that is the harbour and then you have that network of volcanoes that have formed Mt Wellington and Mt Eden and, yeah, I often think of Auckland as this volatile place. My parents live close to Stonefields which is a development built on the site of an old quarry. Auckland has this feeling for me of land acted on. Land in flux, land in change and to me this book is a lot about that, about change and fluidity and evolution and I think walking around Auckland, travelling over it which I did heaps of for this book it’s impossible not to feel that. For instance, the train I catch a lot from Glen Innes travels over the Orakei Basin, this incredibly changeable place. If the tide is in, it looks like a body of water, but when the tide is out it transforms into this muddy almost wasteland. Everything that was covered by the water is exposed. I like that as an image as well, the way things can be exposed by changes in environment. Tides are a big part of my thinking around this book. The way the moon pulls these huge bodies of water around, the way they kind of create these weather patterns deep below us. And then don’t even get me started about how humans began as fish, how the ocean must have some strange pull on us still.

One aspect that really stood out was the friendship between Carla and Duey, with the contrast between their interactions and their personal thoughts, and their awareness of the friendship’s decline. Was this relationship a difficult one to write?

For a long time, in the writing process, Carla and Duey had been lovers and it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. We so often place the ‘sex’ relation above all other intimate relationships. I am really interested in friendship. I find it so interesting. What keeps friendships alive is so complicated but also so purely unselfish. I liked the idea that Carla and Duey were at a stage where the relationship (as if it were a separate thing from the two people in it) was in decline, like despite all their care and thought for each other nothing was going to save it. It was difficult to write because I don’t read many books about friendships that are like that, so in a way the models I had were very much about love and sex relationships. So it took some sorting out, like some real close work. The other thing that I loved about writing that relationship is that I think it is pretty cool how humans can think one thing and then act in a better way. I love how we do that for each other. I guess also, finally, I was interested in deconstructing some of the ‘work’ we do in human relationships. Like, I find people pretty confusing sometimes, a lot of the relating stuff doesn’t come automatically to me. So, I am often thinking a lot about what the right thing to say is or what a person is saying (like actually saying). It was fun to make some of that work apparent, to sort of uncover that and show it.

Reviews of The New Animals have generated some discussion about New Zealand literature and the reviewing process. What has it been like seeing the passion your work has brought out in people?

Writing is a weird thing. I really like the part of writing that takes place in a room by myself. I love working on something, like really working on something – crafting it and messing it up and having to fix it and ​living with it. I find I get so ‘into’ that work (like I literally feel like I climb inside the story) that I forget that other people will read it. So yeah, sometimes publication is a bit of a shock. Like I remember after my first book was published someone I didn’t know said to me, ‘I read your book,’ and I was like, ‘I never said you could.’ I just forget that people will read it. So, it’s pretty amazing when people I respect say they like what I’ve written. People will email me and tell me in person and it means heaps because I’ve sort of ‘shown my hand’ as a human. I’ve said, ‘I made this. I think this is how life is awesome,’ and when someone says, ‘I see what you’ve made and it made me think this is how I think life is awesome,’ that is just incredible. I love how art can do that and I’m not sure much else can. I put a lot of stake in passion. I love the way, in my life, I have been granted the opportunity to come into contact with many people who make me feel passionate and I just get fired up about the idea that our work sort of sparks off each other. Like no matter what is going on. No matter what other people are saying about our work, we can sustain ourselves. It’s like the biggest collaboration. Because although I love those times by myself working, I am never far from the work of others, I will be reading those writers to keep me going, to keep me passionate.

Pip Adam's The New Animals

Wellington author interview: Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager has influenced a generation of readers with her politically astute, emotionally rich YA novels, including The Crossing and The Nature of Ash. But it’s her recent historical novel, Heloise, that’s been causing a stir this year. Described as “brilliant” by the Listener, Heloise tells the story of 12th century lovers Heloise d’Argenteuil and Peter Abelard, and the politics and attitudes they must negotiate during the Gregorian Reforms.

You’ve mentioned that you spent 18 months researching before starting to write Heloise. Were there any particular discoveries that stood out for you, or altered your approach?

Two things really impacted on how I ultimately told the story. The first was a very good piece of advice from academic Dr Constant Mews, who recommended I read as many of the texts Heloise would have read as possible, as all her writing is steeped in references to them. This really enriched the story, especially when I discovered her love of Ovid’s Heroides and saw how I could use it as a mirror for her own story. It was also a really good reminder that, though the incidentals of the 12th century are different, human emotion is consistent across time.

The second thing was discovering the politics that lay behind the story, which made the actions make sense and put them into context. This proved crucial to cracking open the various character’s motivations.

From early on, Heloise fights against the notion that as a woman, she must “learn in silence with all subjection.” How did this struggle, and its on-going relevance, influence your telling of the story?

For a start, the whole act of writing her story countered this: giving her back her voice and own personal agency. Thematically, it taps into several strands I wanted to focus on: the systematic silencing of women across the ages; the effects of church and state power and control, especially as it affected women; and on a craft level, the challenge of telling a story that still has pace and action when the central character is cloistered away and mainly interacts through letters and hearsay.

How difficult was it to capture the voice, thoughts and feelings of a character from the 12th century? Especially someone with Heloise’s background?

As I mentioned above, by reading what Heloise read, it helped me find appropriate ways of expressing her feelings through the literature of her day. Plus, I had the advantage of her letters, which gave me an insight into how she put words on a page and thought. I wrote the whole first draft in a kind of heightened 17th century voice to try and get away from modern concepts, metaphors and language. It didn’t work from a readers point of view (too dense and saccharine) but it helped me make the shift in my head and meant that when I rewrote my head was much more seated in the language and thought constructions of the time. That said, it’s amazing how hard it is to pick up all the modern words and ideas – and I’m extremely grateful to the team of editors and readers for digging them out!

In terms of feelings, once the situation is defined by its context, then it’s just a matter of imagining myself into the character’s head and focussing on what would be the most truthful human reaction to each situation. I think we make a mistake thinking people back then thought in a less emotionally sophisticated way. Heloise’s letters make it clear nothing changes in the history of the heart!

How did writing historical fiction compare with writing stories set in the near future, such as The Nature of Ash?

One’s solely based on imagining a future, with the ability to reference current culture as a kind of shorthand for what’s going on. Historical fiction requires a lot more digging around for shorthand references that are pertinent to the day but still resonate with today’s readers. Another less delicate way of putting this is, in books like The Nature of Ash (which I’m currently writing a sequel to) I’m free to make shit up! That’s a whole lot easier!

Does your approach to writing fiction such as Heloise differ to your approach to writing young adult fiction?

I think when writing young adult fiction there’s an overriding need for pace that is more pressing than adult fiction, along with the need for a young adult protagonist, but overall I don’t think there is that much difference. It’s still a matter of digging into character and trying to bring them alive on the page.

Has Heloise had an on-going influence on your own life, writing or politics?

Most undoubtedly all three! It’s by far the hardest book I’ve ever written (in terms of both its scope and the amount of time it took) and I had to dig really deep to keep going and not give up. I think the gift of the residencies I had during the time meant I felt a great deal of personal pressure to perform and come up with the goods, and though that was exhausting and at times overwhelming, I’m proud of myself for persevering! But I think it’s also taught me a lot as a writer, mainly thanks to my amazing editor, Harriet Allan, who really pushed me (in the best possible way) and I’m hoping that the lessons I’ve learned transfer through to all my writing in the future. The politics have had a huge impact. It’s depressing to realise the very same issues Heloise struggled with are still evident today, and we seem no closer to really solving them. We rabbit on a lot about how we should use history to learn how to progress and improve human lives, but the truth is we’ll go on making the same mistakes over and over – and the same people will continue to be oppressed – if we don’t actually heed the lessons and make a concerted effort to implement change. Heloise’s courage in speaking her truths and supporting those around her is one I now try even harder to emulate as a result of this.

2016 New Zealand Fiction prize winners announced

Syndetics book coverThis year’s Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize of $50,000, has been awarded to Catherine Chidgey for her novel The Wish Child. This is her fourth novel since her first, In a Fishbone Church, was published in 1998, and is thirteen years after her last novel, The Transformation.
The Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction was awarded to Gina Cole for her short story collection Black Ice Matter.

 

New Zealand stories – New ‘Other Genres’ for February

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. Highly recommend it the new novel by award winning author Karen Hay, titled The March of the Foxgloves.

Syndetics book coverThe Assyrian girl / Thomas W Devine.
“Security contractor, Matt Couper, returns from Iraq with memories of a fifteen year old Assyrian girl, Tara Nasrim, whose life he saved. Five years later, as a refugee, Tara shows up in New Zealand. Even there, Islamic extremism rears its head. Religion clashes with love, vengeance is pursued, and Matt’s world overturns.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe march of the foxgloves / Karyn Hay.
“A late 19th century tale of triumph over obsession and humiliation. London, 1893, and Frances Woodward is tormented by the restrictions of her puritanical father and the cruelties of 19th century narcissist, Benedict Hunt. Having meted out a particularly creative form of revenge upon Hunt, Frances transcends the social norms of the late-Victorian era and travels alone to the far-flung colony of New Zealand, where she is forced to look beyond the establishment life seemingly pre-ordained for her. Falling in with other artists and non-conformists, and inspired by the revolution in thinking brought about by heroic literary figures and social reformers of the time, Frances forges a new path of her own making” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe the ones / Julie Helean.
“Struggling with their own disparate agendas, members of this dysfunctional yet fervent anti-racism cell embark on an earnest quest to disrupt the celebrations planned for the 150-year anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. As Waitangi Day draws near, Charlie, disgruntled with her Pakeha anti-racism group’s endless meetings, leadership squabbles and debates over rhetoric, joins her Maori flat mate Kat on a reckless journey to sabotage the 1990 celebrations and stop the Queen from attending. With growing disregard to consequences, the pair commits to do whatever it takes to have the Treaty honoured and the Maori flag flying at Waitangi.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLewisville / Alexandra Tidswell.
“Martha Grimm has a sorrowful secret, and her daughter Mary Ann is the only other person in New Zealand who knows it. Growing up dirt-poor in Willoughby, Warwickshire, in 1814, Martha dared to imagine a different life. Now she is a wealthy and respectable Wellington settler half a world away. But the cost has been high. Martha cannot speak of the past or the people she left behind. The story of one woman’s ambition, of escape and reinvention, and the bittersweet consequences of achieving one’s dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA striking truth / Helen McNeil.
“Leo Harris, union president at the mill in a one-industry town in the rural heartland, has a problem. So long as I live and breathe, he says, I’ll stand up to power. But the mill’s CEO insists this was a showdown waiting to happen. It’s 1986 and the entire town and its people are caught in the stalemate between the two. With their livelihoods, their families, their identities under siege, everyone must choose where their loyalties ultimately lie. It’s not just about work; marriages, family relationships, whakapapa are in jeopardy and long held secrets burst to the surface.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecond time around / E.M. Richmond.
“Established business journalist Georgia Hayden is asked to interview an old friend, Quinn Masters when he returns to New Zealand from the UK where he has been for the past twelve years. Quinn’s wife, and mother of his teenage daughter, died in a tragic accident thirteen years earlier. Georgia is divorced from her husband and has a two year old son. When they meet they discover a mutual attraction, but are both gun-shy. If they can get past their own issues, they may find love is indeed lovelier the second time around.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA French wedding / Hannah Tunnicliffe.
“Max is turning forty. All he wants for his birthday is for his six oldest friends to come to France to eat, dance, drink and laugh for one weekend, and to finally declare his secret, undying love for his best friend, Helen. Juliette gave up the dream of owning an acclaimed Parisian restaurant and returned to her tiny coastal village to nurse her aging parents, but she finds her home much changed, even the boulangerie where she first learned to love baking has fallen upon hard times. Now, as she tries to find her way to a new future, Max’s birthday weekend may just provide the new beginning Juliette is wishing for, but at whose cost?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFurry blur : tales of flash fiction / Barbara Unković.
“Bold, distinctive and written with an acute sense of observation, these diverse tales highlight Unkovic’s skill as a talented writer of Flash Fiction. A unique collection of twenty-eight tales with clear-cut voices from sweet to shocking.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiction Newsletter for the new year

Welcome to this month’s Fiction Newsletter. New Zealand writers feature in our ‘Other Genres’ category. We only have room for three titles from each genre’s selection of new material, just as a sample, so do visit the complete lists, where you will find more great reading.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

There is some great entertaining reading in this month’s new contemporary fiction, perfect for the long hot, lazy days of summer. From the new additions to the collection, we have selected new novels from three of the most popular writers for this newsletter, but do check out all the other great reads chosen.

Syndetics book cover Moonglow / Michael Chabon.
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact and the creative power of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The dark flood rises / Margaret Drabble.
“Fran may be old but she’s not going without a fight. So she dyes her hair, enjoys every glass of red wine, drives around the country for her job with a housing charity and lives in an insalubrious tower block that her loved ones disapprove of. And as each of them, her pampered ex Claude, old friend Jo, flamboyant son Christopher and earnest daughter Poppet, seeks happiness in their own way, what will the last reckoning be? Will they be waving or drowning when the end comes?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The whole town’s talking : a novel / Fannie Flagg.
“Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking. This is an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

There was another fabulous selection of Graphic Novels added to the Wellington City Libraries collection this month. There is as always a diverse range of genre and art work, making this collection one of our library’s most popular and heavily read, and therefore difficult to select just three for this newsletter.

Syndetics book cover We stand on guard / Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce.
“A subversive, action-packed military thriller. Set 100 years in our future, the story follows a heroic band of Canadian civilians turned freedom fighters who must defend their homeland from invasion by a technologically superior opponent, the United States of America.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Day of the magicians / Michelangelo La Neve and Marco Nizzoli ; introduction by Alexandro Jodorowsky.
“Drazen; a child kidnapped, trained by a mysterious band of magicians, and destined to seek out and destroy his own father. Lancaster; a father who will stop at nothing to achieve his own plans, including manipulating his son’s childhood friend. Torn between destiny and desire, the young magician will be forced to confront these conflicts, with terrible consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Cruising through the Louvre / David Prudhomme ; translation by Joe Johnson.
“Author David Prudhomme meanders through the Louvre, feeling as if in the panels of a giant comic while he himself is creating his own. In this institution, all manner of people from all over the world rub elbows quietly. So he decides to cruise through the Louvre at a quick pace, not to look at the art but to observe the people and their interaction with it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

Although police procedural mysteries were predominant in this month’s selection of recently arrived novels, we have chosen three with very different plots for this edition of the fiction newsletter.

Syndetics book cover Without mercy / Jefferson Bass.
“Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton has spent twenty-five years solving brutal murders but none so horrific and merciless as his latest case: A ravaged set of skeletal remains is found scattered in the woods of nearby Cook County. They are all that is left of a victim who had been chained, hand and foot, to a tree on a remote mountainside. The bones tell Brockton and his longtime graduate assistant, Miranda, that the victim was a young male under the age of thirty. As they dig deeper to establish his identity, they uncover warning signs that long-simmering hatred is about to explode into violence, engulfing the region in chaos.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Between the crosses / Matthew Frank.
“Now a freshly-minted DC, war-hero-turned-copper Joseph Stark is called to the scene of a double murder. The husband and wife victims were shot dead in their own home. It looks like a tragic burglary gone wrong. But Stark has a creeping feeling that the killings might be something more chilling. And when new evidence points to a twenty-year-old cold case the hunt is on.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Rather be the devil / Ian Rankin.
“For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand and it still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria’s killer has never been found. Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

There were some amazing new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels received this month. The three selected here for this newsletter illustrate the scope of imagination writers of this genre possess.

Syndetics book cover Night without stars : Chronicle of the Fallers / Peter F. Hamilton
“The planet Bienvenido is in crisis. It has finally escaped the Void, emerging into regular space. But it’s millions of light-years from Commonwealth assistance, and humans are battling the Fallers for control of their world. This rapacious adversary, evolved to destroy all sentient life, has infiltrated every level of human society, hijacking unwilling bodies so its citizens fear their leaders, friends and family. A mysterious figure known as the Warrior Angel leads a desperate resistance. But the government obstructs the Angel’s efforts at every turn, blinded by prejudice and technophobia. Then astronaut Ry Evine uncovers one last hope. On a mission against the enemy, his spacecraft damages an unidentified vessel carrying unexpected cargo: a baby. This extraordinary Commonwealth child possesses knowledge that could save them all. But if the Fallers catch her, the people of Bienvenido will not survive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Death’s end / Cixin Liu ; translated by Ken Liu.
“Book three of the Three-Body Trilogy concludes with Death’s End . Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent.Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Mort(e) : a novel / by Robert Repino.Mort(e)
“After the War With No Name, a cat assassin searches for his lost love in this strange, moving fantasy epic. The colony of ants has risen up to set about creating a human-free Utopia on Earth. Former housecat turned war hero, Mort is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bio-weapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind his recklessness is his ongoing search for a pre-transformation friend, a dog named Sheba.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

New Zealand fiction is featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category, showcasing great writing and a diverse range of subjects. This month we received the much acclaimed new Catherine Chidgey novel, and new work from Deborah Challinor and Emma Neale. So with the novels we have selected for this newsletter we are highlighting three different, but just as skillful writers.

Syndetics book cover Daylight second / Kelly Ana Morey.
“In a new novel about the Australian race horse Phar Lap, award -winning writer, Kelly Ana Morey recreates the short life of the gigantic chestnut gelding who became the darling of the Australian race tracks during the Depression years. From Timaru in New Zealand where he was born, to Australia where he rewrote track and race records and finally Mexico where he would run his last race, Daylight Second chronicles the death threats and attempts on Phar Lap’s life that were made before the running of two of the three Melbourne Cups he contested, his many triumphs including winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932, and finally his death in America in mysterious circumstances.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Strip / Sue Wootton.
“Their dreams of parenthood dashed, Harvey and Isobel go for dream jobs instead. Harvey hangs up his stethoscope to become a cartoonist and Isobel takes a promotion at the local museum. Then an abandoned baby comes up for adoption, and Harvey and Isobel discover a family is more work than they bargained for. By Fleur’s eighth birthday it’s all come together nicely, but that’s before a voice from the past threatens to nuke their hard-won happiness. Harvey doesn’t stop to think. He acts, and with tragic consequences” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The student body / written by former police detective Simon Wyatt.
“A popular fifteen-year-old girl is strangled to death at a school camp on Auckland’s west coast. The posing of the body suggests a sexual motive. Nick Knight, a week into his role as a newly promoted detective sergeant, is tasked with the critical job of leading the Suspects Team. Nick, who turned his back on a lucrative career as a lawyer, is well-versed at dealing with the dark sides of human nature. With no shortage of suspects, he sets a cracking pace on the trail of the murderer, grappling his own personal demons along the way. But are things really as they seem?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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New ‘Other Genres’ for December, this month featuring New Zealand fiction

There are many great reads in this selection for our ‘Other Genre’ category that features New Zealand fiction. Included is the long awaited forth novel by Catherine Chidgey titled, The Wish Child. New novels also from Deborah Challinor and Emma Neale, and highly recommended is the debut novel Strip by Sue Wootton.

Syndetics book coverThe cloud leopard’s daughter / Deborah Challinor.
“On the gold fields of the colonies, enemies are easily made. In the confines of a ship, they can turn deadly. When Kitty and Rian Farrell sail their schooner Katipo III into Dunedin Harbour in 1863, they are on tenterhooks. The new Otago goldfields have attracted all-comers, including their friend Wong Fu from Ballarat, who has sent a message for their help. To their surprise, Wong Fu reveals he is more than a mere fortune seeker, he is in fact a Cloud Leopard tong master and his daughter, Bao, has been kidnapped and taken to opium-ridden China. Kitty and Rian agree to retrieve the missing Bao, but as they sail closer to their quarry the stakes jump dramatically. And little do they know that the deadliest threat lies in their midst.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wish child / Catherine Chidgey.
“It’s 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who cuts prohibited words such as love and mercy out of books. Erich is an only child living a rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions. Drawn together as Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Sieglinde and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRuby and the blue sky / a novel by Katherine Dewar.
“Grammy night, 2021. Ruby wins ‘Best Song’ and makes an impulsive acceptance speech that excites nature lovers across the world. While Ruby and her band celebrate, an extreme evangelical sect, funded by covert paymasters, dispatches a disciple on a ruthless mission to England. As the band plays its sold-out tour, Ruby is pursued by eco-groupies insisting she use her new fame to fight climate change. In a storm and drought-plagued world, run by cynical old men and self-serving corporations, could one young woman lead change?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe pretty delicious café / Danielle Hawkins.
“On the outskirts of a quiet hamlet on the New Zealand coast, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored ‘villa’ cafe. The busy season, they know, is just around the corner. There are plenty of other things distracting them too. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother; Lia’s older half-brother, who lives hours away on the family farm, looks like he might be disinherited by their curmudgeonly father; and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over. And there’s all the delicious cooking. Then, when a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, it seems a healthy new interest could develop. But the past won’t let them be, and when Lia’s ex becomes dangerous, she must decide whether events rule her life or she does.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCan’t help falling / Kara Isaac.Can’t Help Falling: A Novel
“Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter facade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England, home to C.S. Lewis, to try and make amends for the damage she has caused. Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers, until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream. When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Fixing Mrs Philpott / Rachel McAlpine.
“Zoe Philpott packs up her yellow caravan and drives away from post-earthquake Christchurch and a husband in denial. Her very identity is under threat. That yellow caravan acts like a magnet for other women with secret struggles and satisfactions. While Zoe pulls herself together, and her marriage too she is on the receiving end of amazing advice and outrageous revelations. From crisis and chaos Zoe gains new friends and an explosion of confidence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDaylight second / Kelly Ana Morey.
“In a new novel about the Australian race horse Phar Lap, award -winning writer, Kelly Ana Morey recreates the short life of the gigantic chestnut gelding who became the darling of the Australian race tracks during the Depression years. From Timaru in New Zealand where he was born, to Australia where he rewrote track and race records and finally Mexico where he would run his last race, Daylight Second chronicles the death threats and attempts on Phar Lap’s life that were made before the running of two of the three Melbourne Cups he contested, his many triumphs including winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932, and finally his death in America in mysterious circumstances.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrip / Sue Wootton.
“Their dreams of parenthood dashed, Harvey and Isobel go for dream jobs instead. Harvey hangs up his stethoscope to become a cartoonist and Isobel takes a promotion at the local museum. Then an abandoned baby comes up for adoption, and Harvey and Isobel discover a family is more work than they bargained for. By Fleur’s eighth birthday it’s all come together nicely, but that’s before a voice from the past threatens to nuke their hard-won happiness. Harvey doesn’t stop to think. He acts, and with tragic consequences” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe student body / written by former police detective Simon Wyatt.
“A popular fifteen-year-old girl is strangled to death at a school camp on Auckland’s west coast. The posing of the body suggests a sexual motive. Nick Knight, a week into his role as a newly promoted detective sergeant, is tasked with the critical job of leading the Suspects Team. Nick, who turned his back on a lucrative career as a lawyer, is well-versed at dealing with the dark sides of human nature. With no shortage of suspects, he sets a cracking pace on the trail of the murderer, grappling his own personal demons along the way. But are things really as they seem?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New eBook Fiction in December

In these troubled times, dear reader, you have two options: you can turn away from the horrors of the world and embrace the fantasy that literature provides. Or, you can face the disasters head-on, with books that magnify the precipice of doom we stand on. Then again, you could also just enjoy your summer with a range of insightful and surprising new titles – all available through Overdrive!

Overdrive cover Days Without End, by Sebastian Barry
“After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Their lives are enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive. Both a poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Name on the Door is Not Mine, by C. K. Stead
“A striking new collection of accessible yet elegant stories from literary giant and master craftsman C.K. Stead. They are clever, sensual, wry and beautifully written, with Stead’s subtle sense of humour evident at every turn. The collection can be read as a meditation on the writerly life, and includes a number of new, previously unpublished stories, including ‘Last Season’s Man’, which won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Reykjavik Assignment, by Adam LeBor
“UN covert negotiator, Yael Azoulay, has been sent to Reykjavik to broker a secret meeting between US President Freshwater and the Iranian president. Both parties want the violence to stop, but Yael soon realises that powerful enemies are pulling the strings. Enemies for whom peace means an end to their lucrative profit streams. In this gripping thriller, Adam LeBor uses insights gained from twenty-five years of reporting to show us who really has the upper hand in international politics.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly
“Harry Bosch is working as a part-time detective when he gets the invitation to meet with the ageing billionaire Whitney Vance. When he was eighteen Vance had a relationship with a Mexican girl called Vibiana Duarte, but soon after becoming pregnant she disappeared. Now, as he reaches the end of his life, Vance wants to know what happened to Vibiana and whether there is an heir to his fortune. And Bosch is the only person he trusts to undertake the assignment.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Next, by Stephanie Gangi
“Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days obsessing over her ex, watching him thrive in the spotlight while she wastes away. So she embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover City Woman, by Patricia Scanlan
“Devlin’s flair and ambition has made a success of the ‘City Girl’ health and leisure complex. But what of Luke Reilly, a man used to getting his own way? Caroline, still coming to terms with her husband’s revelations, has to do some serious thinking. Can she face the future on her own? Maggie, torn between motherhood and career, finds her marriage under threat. She must decide if it’s time to put herself first.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Bitter Fruits, by Alice Clark-Platts
“The murder of a first-year university student shocks the city of Durham. The victim, Emily Brabents, was from the privileged and popular set at Joyce College, a cradle for the country’s future elite. As Detective Inspector Erica Martin investigates the college, she finds a close-knit community fuelled by jealousy, obsession and secrets. But the very last thing she expects is an instant confession . . .” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Peacock and Vine, by A S Byatt
“This ravishing book opens a window onto the lives, designs and passions of two charismatic artists. Born a generation apart, they were seeming opposites: Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish aristocrat thrilled by the sun-baked cultures of Crete and Knossos; William Morris, a British craftsman, in thrall to the myths of the North. Yet through their revolutionary inventions and textiles, both men inspired a new variety of art, as vibrant today as when it was first conceived.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
“On a warm summer night in 1974, six teenagers play at being cool. They smoke pot, drink vodka, share their dreams and vow always to be interesting. Decades later, only Ethan and Ash, now married, have remained true to their adolescent dreams. As the group’s fortunes tilt precipitously, their friendships are put under the ultimate strain of envy and crushing disappointment.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Everything Box, by Richard Kadrey
“22000 B.C. A beautiful angel stands on a mountaintop. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. The majestic angel utters a single word. “Crap.”” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New eBook Fiction in October

This month’s additions to Overdrive showcase the changing role of the hero. For traditionalists, we have T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, while those with a taste for grittier protagonists can browse several new detective series, including the award-winning A Rising Man. And if you don’t like heroes at all? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, too – the events in the Booker-nominated His Bloody Project are described by an entire community. To start a quest of your own, just sign in here.

Overdrive cover Birds Without Wings, by Louis de Bernières
“Set against the backdrop of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, Birds Without Wings traces the fortunes of one small community in south-west Anatolia, a town in which Christian and Muslim traditions have co-existed peacefully for centuries – until war is declared and the peaceful fabric of life is threatened with destruction. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in sensual detail, it is an enchanting masterpiece.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler
“22-year-old Tess has come to New York to take on her destiny. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the punishing, privileged life of a backwaiter, on and off duty. She’s pulled into the thrall of two other servers—a handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman whose connection to both young lovers is murky, sensual and overpowering. These two will prove to be Tess’s hardest lesson of all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth Mckenzie
“A laugh-out-loud love story with big ideas – and squirrels. Can squirrels speak? Do snails scream? Will a young couple, newly engaged, make it to their wedding day? Will their dysfunctional families ruin everything? Will they be undone by the advances of a very sexy, very unscrupulous heiress to a pharmaceuticals corporation? Is getting married even a remotely reasonable idea in the twenty-first century? And what in the world is a ‘Veblen’ anyway?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Dirt Road, by James Kelman
“Murdo, a teenager obsessed with music, dreams of a life beyond his Scottish island home. His dad Tom has recently lost his wife and is terrified of losing control of what remains of his family. Both are in search of something as they set out on an expedition into the American South. As they travel they encounter a new world and we discover whether the hopes of youth can conquer the fears of age.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover His Bloody Project, by Graeme Macrae Burnet
“A brutal triple murder in a remote northwestern crofting community in 1869 leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. There’s no question that Macrae is guilty, but the police and courts must uncover what drove him to murder. A story ingeniously recounted through the accused’s memoir, trial transcripts and newspaper reports, His Bloody Project is a riveting literary thriller, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee
“Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise, he is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore
“New York, 1888. A young lawyer named Paul Cravath takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country? The task facing Cravath is daunting, and the stakes are immense: the winner of the case will illuminate America.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Once and Future King, by T. H. White
“T.H. White’s masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend is an abiding classic. The Once and Future King contains all five books about the early life of King Arthur (The Sword in the Stone, The Witch in the Wood, The Ill-Made Knight, The Candle in the Wind and The Book of Merlyn). White brings to life the major British epic with brilliance, grandeur, warmth and charm.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Jake’s Long Shadow, by Alan Duff
“The third volume in the hard-hitting, best-selling Once Were Warriors trilogy. The millennium has changed but have the Hekes? Where are they now? Son Abe who has rejected violence but violence finds him; Polly, as beautiful as her sister Grace, who committed suicide; the gang leader, Apeman, who killed Tania, what’s prison like, does it change a man? And then there’s Jake Heke, casting his long shadow over everyone.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

The latest Fiction Newsletter

Welcome to the latest Fiction Newsletter where we have collected three titles from this month’s fiction recent picks as an appetiser. This month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection features New Zealand writers. We hope that you will find some wonderful reading from amongst all this new fiction, no matter what genre you prefer.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

A wide range of genres were included in this month’s selection of new Contemporary Fiction. The following three are examples of this with historical, translated and futuristic novels chosen for this month’s newsletter.

Syndetics book cover Field service / Robert Edric.
“Morlancourt, Northern France, 1920.In the aftermath of the world’s bloodiest conflict, a small contingent of battle-worn soldiers remains in France. Captain James Reid and his men are tasked with the identification and burial of innumerable corpses as they come to terms with the events of the past four years. The stark contrast between the realities of burying men in France and the reports of honouring the dead back in Britain is all too clear. But it is only when the daily routine is interrupted by a visit from two women, both seeking solace from their grief, that the men are forced to acknowledge the part they too have played.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Mandibles : a family, 2029 – 2047 / Lionel Shriver.
“In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remaining savings are been rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation .The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also, as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction, the challenge of sheer survival.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Six four / Hideo Yokoyama ; translated from the Japanese by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies.
“For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again. For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as ‘Six Four’. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

Guaranteed for diversity of theme, artwork and genre, the Graphic Novel collection never fails to entertain and fascinate readers. Deciding on just three as a temptation for readers is always difficult.

Syndetics book cover 365 days / by Julie Doucet.
“A year in the life of a world-renowned artist. This visual journal, starting in late 2002, is an idiosyncratic collision of her various creative interests, wherein personal narrative, collage, and drawing begin to tell the story of her pursuits into printmaking and beyond, chronicling her maturation as a mid-career artist and her fluid extension into a broader arts community.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Beverly / by Nick Drnaso.
“A darkly funny portrait of middle America seen through the stunted, numb minds of its children. Connected by a series of gossipy teens, the modern lost souls of Beverly struggle with sexual anxieties that are just barely repressed and social insecurities that undermine every word they speak. A group of teenagers pick up trash on the side of the highway, flirting, preening, and ignoring a potentially violent loner in their midst. A young woman experiences a traumatic incident at the pizza shop where she works and the fallout reveals the racial tensions simmering below the surface. Precisely and hauntingly recounted, each chapter of Beverly reveals something new and yet familiar, about the world in which we live.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Rosalie Lightning : a graphic memoir / by Tom Hart and Rosalie Lightning and Leela Corman and the residents of New York City, Gainesville, Florida, New Mexico, and Hawaii, as well as various singer-songwriters, film directors, actors, animators, comic artists, donors, lovers and friends.
“Cartoonist Tom Hart’s New York Times bestselling is a touching and beautiful graphic memoir about the untimely death of his young daughter, Rosalie. His heart-breaking and emotional illustrations strike readers to the core, and take them along his family’s journey through loss. Hart creatively portrays the solace he discovers in nature, philosophy, great works of literature, and art across all mediums in this expressively honest and loving tribute to his daughter.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

The three translated novels included in this month’s selection of new Mystery Fiction have been chosen for this newsletter. Do check the complete list of selections for other new mysteries by some very talented writers.

Syndetics book cover The silent dead / Tetsuya Honda ; translated by Giles Murray.
“When a body wrapped in a blue plastic tarp and tied up with twine is discovered near the bushes near a quiet suburban Tokyo neighborhood, Lt. Reiko Himekawa and her squad take the case. The victim was slaughtered brutally, his wounds are bizarre, and no one can figure out the “what” or the “why” of this crime. Reiko makes a discovery that leads the police to uncover eleven other bodies, all wrapped in the same sort of plastic. Only a few of the bodies are identifiable and those that are have connection to each other. The only possible clue is a long shot lead to a website spoken only in whispers on the Internet, something on the dark web known as “Strawberry Night”.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Stalker / Lars Kepler ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“A video-clip is sent to the National Criminal Investigation Department. Someone has secretly filmed a woman through her window from the garden. The next day she is found dead after a frenzied knife-attack. The police receive a second film of another unknown woman. There is no way of identifying her before time runs out. When her husband finds her he is so traumatized that he cleans the whole house and puts her to bed. He may have seen a vital clue, but is in such an extreme state of shock that the police are unable to question him. Psychiatrist Erik Maria Bark is called in to hypnotize him but what the man tells him under hypnosis leads Erik to start lying to the police. If the lights are on, a stalker can see you from outside. But if the lights are off, you can’t see a stalker who is already inside the house.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The dying detective / Leif G.W. Persson ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“Retired Chief of the National Crime Police and Swedish Security Service Lars Martin Johansson has just suffered a stroke. He is paying the price for a life of excess – stress, good food and fine wine. With his dangerously high blood pressure, his heart could fail at the slightest excitement. In the hospital, a chance encounter with a neurologist provides an important piece of information about a 25-year-old murder investigation and alerts Lars Martin Johansson’s irrepressible police instincts. Lars Martin Johansson is determined to solve the atrocious crime even from his deathbed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

This month’s selection of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels included five debut novelists, all bound to have readers eagerly waiting their next publications. We have chosen new work from three very popular, veteran writers for this newsletter.

Syndetics book cover War factory / Neal Asher.
“The second book in the Transformation series. Thorvald Spear, resurrected from his death over a hundred years earlier, continues to hunt Penny Royal, the rogue AI and dangerous war criminal on the run from Polity forces. Beyond the Graveyard, a lawless and deadly area in deep space, Spear follows the trail of several enemy Prador, the crab-like alien species with a violent history of conflict with humanity. Blite, captain of a bounty hunting ship, hands over two prisoners and valuable memplants from Penny Royal to the Brockle, a dangerous forensics entity under strict confinement on a Polity spaceship that quickly takes a keen interest in the corrupted AI and its unclear motives. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The seascape tattoo / Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.
“Aros of Azteca and Neoloth-Pteor are the deadliest of enemies: Swordsman and Sorcerer, locked in mortal combat, who have tried to kill each other more times than either can count. But when the princess Neoloth loves is kidnapped, there is only one plan that offers any hope of rescueand that requires passing off the barbarian Aros as a lost princeling and infiltrating the deadliest cabal of necromancers the world has ever seen. They cannot trust each other. They will betray or kill each other the first chance they get. But they’re all each other has.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Age of myth / Michael J. Sullivan.
“This is the first in a proposed five book series five-book series. Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

The feature of this month’s Other Genres category is New Zealand fiction. Included in this month’s newsletter selection are new novels from two of New Zealand’s most talented, popular writers.

Syndetics book cover The quiet spectacular / Laurence Fearnley.
“Loretta is a school librarian, who embarks on compiling The Dangerous Book for Menopausal Women while waiting to collect her son from after-school activities. Chance is a teenager, who discovers an unusual creative outlet to offset the strain of her controlling mother. Riva is the founder of a wetlands sanctuary, who is seeking a way to fulfil her promise to her dying sister to do something ‘absolutely spectacular’. Within a clearing in the woods by a lake there is a den, a secret sanctuary and eventual meeting place for all three women.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover All day at the movies / Fiona Kidman.
“Life isn’t always like it appears in the movies. In 1952, Irene Sandle takes her young daughter to Motueka. Irene was widowed during the war and is seeking a new start and employment in the tobacco fields. There, she finds the reality of her life far removed from the glamour of the screen. Can there be romance and happy endings, or will circumstances repeat through the generations? Each subsequent episode in this poignant work follows family secrets and the dynamics of Irene’s children. The story doesn’t just track their lives, but also New Zealand itself as its attitudes and opportunities change and reverberate through the decades.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The case of the missing body / Jenny Powell.
“The Case of the Missing Body is the true and unusual story of Lily, who has no sense of her body. She has struggled with the effects of this her whole life. Desperate to try anything to ‘be normal’, a nevertheless skeptical Lily agrees to begin work with her physiotherapist in a gymnasium. One extraordinary day, working in the gym, Lily discovers she has shoulder blades. All her life she has thought people only felt their heads, with thoughts trailing along in and behind them. Now she has shoulder blades. There is nothing easy about what is to follow. Neither Patrick (the physiotherapist) nor Lily could have predicted it. But with help from professionals, the writer of this beautiful, moving memoir becomes her own detective, searching for clues to help her find her own body.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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