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Fiction newsletter for March

Welcome to the Fiction newsletter where you will find great reading from selected new material received this month. We do hope that you will find many hours of reading pleasure and perhaps some new exciting new authors, previously unread.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

Contemporary Fiction always covers a very broad range of themes, and this month’s selection from our recently received new material is no exception. We have chosen, for this newsletter three examples of this diversification of theme.

Syndetics book cover General theory of oblivion / José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
“On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she will remain for the next thirty years. She lives off vegetables and pigeons, burns her furniture and books to stay alive and keeps herself busy by writing her story on the walls of her home. The outside world slowly seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of a man fleeing his pursuers and a note attached to a bird’s foot. Until one day she meets Sabalu, a young boy from the street who climbs up to her terrace.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The river at night / Erica Ferencik.
“Winifred Allen needs a vacation. Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings. What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Dating tips for the unemployed / Iris Smyles.
“Iris Smyles’s Dating Tips for the Unemployed is an urban odyssey, a wistful, wise, and wry look back at a young woman trying to find her home in the world. “Iris,” the narrator and heroine, guides the reader through twenty-four episodes from her life, pausing now and then for meditations on love, sex, work, loneliness, insomnia, arctic exploration, cannibalism, the Higgs boson, Greek mythology, memory, costumes parties, time travel, Rocky I, II, V, IV, VI, and III respectively, literary immortality, real estate trends, and growing up and growing old.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

This month’s selection of new Graphic Novels includes Sarah Laing’s brilliant debut graphic novel, titled, Mansfield and Me: a graphic memoir.

Syndetics book cover Alena / a graphic novel by Kim W. Andersson ; dialogue written in collaboration with C-M Edenborg.
“Alena’s life is a living hell. Since starting at the snobbish boarding school Alena’s been harassed every day by Philippa and the girls on the lacrosse team. But Alena’s best friend Josephine is not going to accept that anymore, not from the counsellor or principal, not from Philippa, and not from anyone at that horrid school. If Alena does not fight back then Josephine will take matters into her own hands. There’s just one problem, Josephine has been dead for a year.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The return of the honey buzzard / written and illustrated by Aimée de Jongh; translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison.
“Simon, a bookseller, has hit hard times. The financial crisis has struck and sales have slumped; his store looks set to close, and he has become increasingly withdrawn. Returning from his storage facility in the woods, he stops at an isolated railroad crossing. There, he witnesses a suicide. The moment hits him like a bomb. Withdrawing deeper into himself, Simon is haunted by memories from his past, memories repressed, from a time he’d prefer to forget. It is only by chance that he meets Regina, a young girl who begins to provide the comfort and support he needs. But who is Regina, and can she help him come to terms with the loss of a childhood friend?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Sarah Laing.
“Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, a writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

Our selection of new Mysteries this month again included many translated novels, proving a growth in their popularity with readers, especially for Scandinavian mysteries. Unfortunately only three titles could be chosen for this newsletter, so do visit the full selection option.

Syndetics book cover Black water lilies / Michel Bussi ; translated from the French by Shaun Whiteside.
“Giverny, is during the day, the home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his waterlilies. But once the tourists have gone, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village. This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The falling detective / Christoffer Carlsson ; translated by Michael Gallagher.
“The second instalment in the internationally bestselling Leo Junker series. Leo Junker is back in the homicide unit, after a murder case where he was the intended victim. Still abusing prescription drugs and battling his inner demons, he’s doing his best to appear fit for duty. A sociologist named Thomas Heber is found murdered. The only clues the police have to work with are Heber’s cryptic research notes, which indicate that someone else’s life is also under threat, but who? Leo is put on the Heber case with his former nemesis Gabriel Birck, but when the case is abruptly reassigned to the Swedish Security Service, he realizes this is no ordinary street mugging.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover A very pukka murder : a Maharaja mystery / Arjun Raj Gaind.
“Major William Russell, the English Resident of the princely state of Rajpore, is found dead the morning after the 1909 New Year’s Ball. The fabulously wealthy Maharaja of Rajpore, a lover of luxury cars and beautiful women, cannot resist a mystery and, over the objections of the local Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police, attempts to solve the crime. As the British authorities dispatch their own investigator from Simla, His Highness deals with the growing hostility of the English Establishment, learning that Major Russell was not as pukka, as proper, as he liked to pretend.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

The selection from our recently received new Science Fiction & Fantasy included this genres most popular themes, genetic engineering, shapeshifting, space warfare, artificial intelligence and magic. Readers who love this genre will not be disappointed.

Syndetics book cover Into the guns / William C. Dietz.
“On May Day, 2018, sixty meteors entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded around the globe with a force greater than a nuclear blast. Earthquakes and tsunamis followed, as China mistakenly attacked Europe, Asia, and the United States. As refugees across America band together and engage in open warfare with the military over scarce resources, a select group of individuals make a power play to rebuild the country.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Normal / Warren Ellis.
“When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels Adam uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future, and the past, and the now.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Insurgence / Ken MacLeod.
“Die for the company , live for the pay. The ultimate pay-off is DH-17, an Earth-like planet hundreds of light years from human habitation. Ruthless corporations vie over the prize remotely, and war is in full swing. But soldiers recruited to fight in the extremities of deep space come with their own problems: from A.I. minds in full rebellion, to Carlos ‘the Terrorist’ and his team of dead mercenaries, reincarnated from a bloodier period in earth’s history for one purpose only to kill. But as old rivalries emerge and new ones form, Carlos must decide whether he’s willing for fight for the company or die for himself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

This month we received many new titles from New Zealand writers that included the much praised, long awaited second novel by Karen Hay, titled the march of the foxgloves.

Syndetics book cover The 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 cover We 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 cover Lewisville / 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)

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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)

Book Launch & Celebration

It is with pleasure that Wellington City Libraries will be hosting an evening on Monday 12th December 2016 at 5.30 p.m. to celebrate Steele Roberts Aotearoa 20 years of publishing with the launch of two new collections of poems, one by Kevin Ireland and the other by Peter Bland.

Twenty years ago, on this same day, at Wellington City Libraries, Steele Roberts Aotearoa published their first book titled Dedications by J. C. Sturm (better known at Jackie Baxter, once our New Zealand Librarian)

We invite you to join us on the ground floor of the Central Library to enjoy this evening of celebration and poetry.

Kevin and Peter launch

Highly Acclaimed New Zealand writer James McNeish has died

Syndetics book coverIt is with great sadness the death of James McNeish was announced. He was one of New Zealand’s most prolific writers of fiction, non-fiction, plays, essays, articles and reviews. His first novel, titled Mackenzie was published in 1970 and his eighth, titled The Crime of Huey Dunstan was published on 2010. In 2010 he was awarded the Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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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2016 Ngaio Marsh Award winners announced

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverCongratulations to the winners of the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award for the Best Crime Novel and Best First Novel. Paul Cleave’s ninth publication titled Trust No One was awarded the Best Crime Novel. This is the third year he has won this award. Canadian-born writer Ray Berard was awarded the Best First Novel prize for Inside the Black Horse. Berard emigrated to New Zealand 15 years ago and now lives in Christchurch.

The best of the best: must reads from recent fiction selections

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

Syndetics book coverZero K : a novel / Don DeLillo.
“A wonderfully funny, moving novel from a great American writer.”

Syndetics book coverBeef with tomato / Dean Haspiel.
“A clever balance of the humorous, the tragic, and the mundane aspects of street life, from a great story teller.”

Syndetics book coverIn the cold dark ground / Stuart MacBride.
“Another gripping murder mystery from this bestselling, award winning author.”

Syndetics book coverThe blackbird sings at dusk / Linda Olsson.
“A gentle novel about friendship and identity from much enjoyed New Zealand writer.”

Syndetics book coverBarren Cove : a novel / Ariel S. Winter.
“This is not just a great book cover, but a suspenseful, imaginative, great science fiction read.”


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