Readers reviews: favourite February fiction

A great way to find out what people are loving in our fiction collection is a swift browse of the Reader’s Choice display. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The current selection is as eclectic as our multi faceted borrowers. People have reviewed books they have found to be delightful, absorbing, distracting and well written. These reviews are warts and all, some you may find yourself agreeing with, and some you might have a different opinion. Read on, and discover for yourself.

Bright young dead / Fellowes, Jessica
“Meet the Bright Young Things, the rabble-rousing hedonists of the 1920s whose treasure hunts were a media obsession. One such game takes place at the 18th birthday party of Pamela Mitford, but ends in tragedy as cruel, charismatic Adrian Curtis is pushed to his death from the church neighbouring the Mitford home. The police quickly identify the killer as a maid, Dulcie. But Louisa Cannon, chaperone to the Mitford girls and a former criminal herself, believes Dulcie to be innocent, and sets out to clear the girl’s name . . . all while the real killer may only be steps away.” (Catalogue)
Reader’s review: “A good read that encouraged research into the Mitfords, … and the ‘Bright Young Things’ so I know more about the 1920’s than I thought I’d need. The first book wasn’t on the shelf so I hope you have it, if not get it please!”
(Good news reader – we have the first in the series The Mitford murders in the library collection.)

The Hchom book / Churchland, Marian
“If you were a goblin, what would your treasure hoard contain? Gems and minerals, biscuits and pastries, fine-tailored jackets, or perhaps all of the above. The Hchom book collects illustrations and essays from Marian Churchland’s popular, long-running blog, Hchom.com.” (Catalogue)
Reader’s review: “Very creative with cute and interesting designs and illustrations. Relatable content in terms of clothing, food, life”

 

Here and now and then / Chen, Mike
“Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission. One afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives–eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember… A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.” (Catalogue)
Reader’s review: “Superb, modern. Proper time travel that’s both personal and clever. Great twists, hard to put down”

The cottage at Rosella Cove / Docker, Sandie
“Nicole is starting again. She’s left her old life far behind, and has just arrived in the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. At first Nicole is determined to avoid making personal ties, but when she discovers a hidden box of letters she soon realises that she’s not the first person to have lived in the cottage who has been hiding secrets. As Nicole gradually begins to let her guard down, she starts to find real connections with the close-knit community at the Cove – especially with handsome Danny, the local handyman who has been helping her restore the cottage to its former glory. But Nicole still struggles with her own dark past, which seems determined to catch up with her. How long can she keep running? And what will happen if she stops?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review” Despite a rather predictable plot a good example of a writer writing of a location they are familiar with and evokes the goodwill spirit of a small town very well.”

A sacred storm / Brun, Theodore
“Bound by honor. Haunted by loss. 8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sve rs, and sworn enemy of the Danish king Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honor and oath to stand with King Sviggar. But, unbeknownst to the old King his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other. Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent read for lovers of historical fiction it’s one to enjoy. Some readers may be put off by the novels length but this is hard to put down and the writer left yu gasping for more. Can’t wait to read more by this author”

The pearl thief / McIntosh, Fiona
“Severine Kassel is asked by the Louvre in 1963 to aid the British Museum with curating its antique jewellery, her specialty. Her London colleagues find her distant and mysterious. No one could imagine that she is a desperately damaged woman, hiding her trauma behind her chic, French image. It is only when some dramatic Byzantine pearls are loaned to the Museum that Severine’s poise is dashed. Her shocking revelation of their provenance sets off a frenzied hunt for Nazi Ruda Mayek. Mossad’s interest is triggered and one of its most skilled agents comes out of retirement to join the hunt. From the snowy woodlands outside Prague to the Tuilieries of Paris and the heather-covered moors of Yorkshire comes a confronting and heart-stopping novel that explores whether love and hope can ever overpower atrocity in a time of war and hate.(Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Riveting story. Excellent reading. Very enthralling.”  

A mind of her own / Harris, Rosie
“Newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, Betty Wilson is determined to remain in the home she has lived in the whole of her married life and retain her independence. Deciding she doesn’t need anyone to look after her, she won’t even accept help from loyal family friend Peter Brown. But it’s not always easy to cope when one is growing older. From errant hedge trimmers to unscrupulous conmen and a car which seems to have a mind of its own, modern life offers unexpected hazards for the unwitting septuagenarian. Will Betty accept the devoted Peter’s help and come to realize what he means to her, before it’s all too late…?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Extremely well written but the subject, that is, dementia, the leading to and aftermath of Betty and Peter’s life is sad and depressing, a glimpse into peoples’ lives, the suffering. It ends too abruptly, leaving the reader wondering.”

The winter of the witch / Arden, Katherine
“Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic. Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders. But she may not be able to save them all.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Great final book in a trilogy. Beautifully written, interesting characters, strong female heroine unusual fantasy structure. Recommended, but read The Bear and the Nightingale first.”

Vigilance / Bennett, Robert Jackson
“The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize. The TV audience is not the only one that’s watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Nice surprise to find this on the shelf after returning his terrific Foundryside. This short pertinent tale is an acute take on contemporary USA in all its frightening violence and self-absorption. Highly recommended” 

The kingdom of copper / Chakraborty, S. A.
“Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad–and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there. Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “The book was amazing.”

 

 

Readers’ Choice: People love reading…

Have you ever loved a book so much that you want to stop and tell everyone how wonderful it is? Well now’s your chance!
The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. Book lovers like you!

These selected books are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that other people can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

This month borrowers have loved a range of material from the latest unexpected plot twists in mystery writing to retellings of classic novels.  This eclectic selection reviews the breadth of the fiction collection with science fiction short stories and well researched historical fiction.

Syndetics book coverThe inheritance and other stories / Megan Lindholm, Robin Hobb.
The Inheritance & Other Stories is a marvelous new collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling master storyteller Robin Hobb–including tales written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm, by which the acclaimed fantasist first began her illustrious writing career. A unique compendium of wonders displaying the breathtaking skill, imagination, and remarkably varied styles of both alter egos.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “I really enjoyed all the stories. I have read Robin Hobb books before and this was a great introduction to her other identity” 

Syndetics book coverTombland / C.J. Sansom.Tombland
“Spring, 1549. Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the prolonged war with Scotland is proving a failure. The economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring.”  (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “This book sets a new bar for historical fiction, with it’s meticulous research, and interweaving of a fictional character and story with the peasant rebellion led by Robert Kett in 1549. It’s the seventh novel in the author’s best selling Shardlake series but can be read as a one off novel… It was very refreshing to read a book on a little known period of English history, with such fantastic description of the period based on thorough research.” 

Syndetics book coverUnequal affections : a Pride & Prejudice retelling / Lara S. Ormiston ; foreword by Devleena Ghosh, PhD.
“When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed. Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice at the proposal in the Hunsford parsonage, this story explores the kind of man Darcy is, even before his “proper humbling,” and how such a man, so full of pride, so much in love, might have behaved had Elizabeth chosen to accept his original proposal.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “A beautiful retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A must read for any P+P fan. Utterly un-put-downable! Enjoyed so much.” 

Syndetics book coverThe backstreets of purgatory / Helen Taylor.
“Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients. Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself.
Art, truth and madness come to blows in this darkly funny debut novel from a startling new talent.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was very hard to get into to start with but well written making the story blurry between present and the psychotic world” 

Syndetics book coverHeadlong / Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
“Bill Slider and his team investigate the death of a prominent literary agent in this intriguing contemporary mystery. An embittered ex-wife. A discarded mistress. A frustrated would-be author. A disgruntled former employee. Many had reason to hold a grudge against the late lamented literary agent. But who would feel strongly enough to kill him?” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “Latest in the Detective Slider series. A good read for character development and cops out of work stories. Mystery is OK and well told but not new” 

Syndetics book cover

Charlesgate confidential / by Scott Von Doviak.
“A group of criminals in 1946 pull off the heist of the century, stealing a dozen priceless works of art from a Boston museum. But while the thieves get caught, the art is never found. Forty years later, the last surviving thief gets out of jail and goes hunting for the loot, involving some innocent college students in his dangerous plan.” (Syndetics summary)

Reader’s review: “Reasonably satisfactory story about reverberations of an art robbery over the decades that follow. Readable and it held me.”

New forays into Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone book cover

Ready to explore new viewpoints, worlds and inventions of the imagination? Recent titles for Science fiction and Fantasy delve into long running series and uncover new writing territory.

Syndetics book coverBikes not rockets : intersectional feminist bicycle science fiction stories / edited by Elly Blue.
“As you ride down the intergalactic bike path, you come to a crossroads. Which path will you take? Your choice could determine your future, or the future of all humanity, forever. These twelve stories explore a variety of intersections set in distant, outlandish, or disturbingly realistic futures and dimensions–all involving bicycles and the breaking of gender stereotypes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories / N K Jemisin
“In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story The City Born Great, a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTexas hold’em / edited by George R.R. Martin ; assisted by Melinda M. Snodgrass ; written by David Anthony Durham, Max Gladstone, Victor Milán, Diana Rowland, Walton Simons, Caroline Spector, William F. Wu.
“San Antonio, home of the Alamo, is also host to the nation’s top high school jazz competition, and the musicians at Xavier Desmond High are excited to outplay their rivals. They are also jokers, kids with strange abilities and even stranger looks. On top of that, well, they are teenagers, apt for mischief, mishaps, and romantic misunderstandings.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lies of Locke Lamora : book one of the gentleman bastard sequence / Scott Lynch.
“They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA cathedral of myth and bone / stories by Kat Howard.
“In these sixteen exquisite stories, Kat Howard deftly weaves in and out the countries of myth and hagiography to write the lives of women untold and unexplored.”  (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSplintered Suns (Humanity’s Fire, 5) / Michael Cobley
“For Pyke and his crew it should have been just another heist. Travel to a backwater desert planet, break into a museum, steal a tracking device then use it to find a ship buried in the planet’s vast and trackless sandy wastes. Except that the museum vault is a bio-engineered chamber, and the tracking device is sought after by another gang of treasure hunters led by an old adversary of Pyke’s, the devious Raven Kaligara.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe labyrinth index / Charles Stross.
“Since she was promoted to the head of the Lords Select Committee on Sanguinary Affairs, every workday for Mhari Murphy has been a nightmare. It doesn’t help that her boss, the new Prime Minister of Britain, is a manipulative and deceptive pain in the butt. Mhari’s most recent assignment takes her across the pond into the depths of North America. The United States president has gone missing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Reader’s Choice – the reviews are in!

Shadowless Book Cover

From translated writing, science fiction and contemporary fiction, the variety of readers feedback is from across the fiction spectrum. This month it’s the new and classic titles that have the eyes of literary browsers. As with all reading experiences they are unique to the reader.

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Syndetics book coverShadowless / Hasan Ali Toptaş ; translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely and John Angliss.
“In an Anatolian village forgotten by both God and the government, the muhtar has been elected leader for the sixteenth successive year. When he staggers to bed that night, drunk on raki and his own well-deserved success, the village is prosperous. But when he is woken by his wife the next evening he discovers that Nuri, the barber, has disappeared without a trace in the dead of night, and the community begins to fracture. Blurring the lines of reality to terrific effect, Shadowless is both a compelling mystery and an enduring evocation of displacement from one of the finest, most exciting voices in Turkish literature today.” (Syndetics summary)

“I thought this book would be better as a short story. There were some good observations but as a novel it didn’t hold my attention”⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverJosh and Hazel’s guide to not dating / Christina Lauren.
“Most men can’t handle Hazel. But her best friend Josh isn’t most men. Josh has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?” (Syndetics summary)

“Fun, light, chick-lit novel. Quite funny and enjoyable if you want a light easy romance novel”⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverElefant / Martin Suter ; translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.
“What would you do if you woke up to see a living, breathing, tiny, glowing, pink elephant? If you’re anything like Schoch, who lives on the streets of Zürich and is decidedly down on his luck, you might well think it’s time to put away the bottle before your hallucinations get any stranger, and go back to sleep. But what if the tiny pink elephant is still there when you wake up? And clearly needs someone to take care of it? And what if you discover that it’s been created through genetic engineering, by a group of scientists who just want to use it to get rich and don’t care about the elephant’s welfare? And that they’re in cahoots with a circus and will stop at nothing to get it back? What if this little elephant is about to change your life?” (Syndetics summary)

“Ingenious. The humans involved are some of them rather tedious. But the central figure does develop excellently” ⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverThe winter soldier / Daniel Mason.
“Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War One explodes across Europe. From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and, finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone.” (Syndetics summary)

“This was a superb read from start to finish. Austrian med student in remote E European field hospital in WWI. Doesn’t sound promising? Believe me this will be winning Oscars in the Hollywood version in a few years. Riveting.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverStrangers with the same dream / Alison Pick.
“‘We came into their valley at dawn.’ So begins this taut roller-coaster of a novel. From three vastly different points of view, Alison Pick relates the same vivid and riveting story of one transformative year. That year is 1921, and a band of young Jewish pioneers, many escaping violent homelands, have set out to realize a utopian dream–the founding of a kibbutz–on a patch of land that will later become Israel. Writing with a tightly controlled intensity, Alison Pick takes us inside the very different minds of her three key characters–two young unmarried women, escaping peril in Russia and Europe; and one slightly older man, a group leader who is married with two children–to depict how idealism quickly tumbles into pragmatism, and how the utopian dream is punctured by messy human entanglements.” (Syndetics summary)

“I thought this book was cleverly written about the beginning of something that continues to challenge international relations. A triptych that reminds that there is always multiple versions of history and the truth” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverThe fortress / S.A. Jones.
The Fortress asks questions about consent, power, love and fulfilment, and is absorbing, explicit, confronting and moving. Jonathon Bridge has the corner office, the tailored suits and the impeccable pedigree. He has a fascinating wife, a child on the way and a string of nubile lovers on the side. His world is our world: the same chaos and sprawl, haves and have-nots, men and women, skyscrapers and billboards. But it also exists alongside a vast, self-sustaining city-state called The Fortress where the indigenous inhabitants — the Vaik — continue to live much as they have always done. The Vaik is an all-female civilisation where Johnathon will have to live as a supplicant for a year.” (Syndetics summary)

“I thought I didn’t like fantasy as a genre but it turns out I wasn’t the target audience. It was an immensely satisfying read to the end. Fantasy is usually overly populated with books targeted at white cis men!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverPhone / Will Self.Phone
“Meet Jonathan De’Ath, aka ‘the Butcher’. The curious thing about the Butcher is that everyone who knows him – his washed-up old university lecturer father, his jumbling-bumbling mother, his hippy-dippy brothers, his so-called friends, his spooky colleagues and his multitudinous lovers – they all apply this epithet to him quite independently, each in ignorance of the others. He knows everyone calls him ‘the Butcher’ behind his back, but he also knows that they don’t know the only real secret he maintains, encrypted in the databanks of his steely mind- Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander – is Jonathan De’Ath’s longtime lover.” (Syndetics summary)

“Interesting in parts, but needs a good editor. I enjoyed his earlier works, which had black humour, sadly lacking in this latest trilogy” ⭐⭐(2/5 stars)

Syndetics book coverSo long, and thanks for all the fish : volume four in the trilogy of five / Douglas Adams ; foreword by Neil Gaiman.
“Thirty years of celebrating the comic genius of Douglas Adams… There is a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. It’s not an easy thing to do and Arthur Dent thinks he’s the only human who’s been able to master this nifty little trick – until he meets Fenchurch, the girl of his dreams. Fenchurch knows how the world could be made a good and happy place. Unfortunately she’s forgotten. Convinced that the secret lies within God’s Final Message to His Creation they go in search of it. And – in a dramatic break with tradition – actually find it… Volume four in the trilogy of five” (Syndetics summary)

“I enjoyed it when I first read it in the ’80’s but less so this time. The basic concept of uplifted dolphins seems sillier now. However it is written well and is a classic, so it will appeal to some” ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars)

Our most popular Fiction: Top reads at a mystery branch location

Our fiction collection brings you the talent of local writers and international award winners. Those brave enough to write out their inner workings or extrapolate on the world around them. So whether you enjoy untangling a thriller with unexpected plot twists or delving into the imagination of the world’s best fantasy writer maybe a reader’s favourite out there will be your next favourite too!

Wellington City Libraries is lucky enough to have eleven branches throughout the city. It’s no surprise that each branch has it’s own particular set of reading loves. This month the most popular ten reads is brought to you from a mystery location, maybe it’s the branch you borrow from?

Transcription / Kate Atkinson.
Syndetics book cover“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever. Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat.” (Syndetics summary)

The furthest station / Ben Aaronovitch.
Syndetics book cover“A brand new novella in the PC Grant series! There’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call. It’s PC Peter Grant’s speciality. Only it’s more than going ‘bump’. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow up interviews rather difficult. Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition. Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.” (Syndetics summary)

Why mummy swears : the struggles of an exasperated mum / Gill Sims.
Syndetics book cover“Welcome to Mummy’s world… The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips… Mummy’s marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she’s also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t have to run out when the nanny calls in sick. Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T? Probably effing not.” (Syndetics summary)

Everything is lies / Helen Callaghan.
Syndetics book cover“Sophia’s parents have lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed. Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find her mother hanging from a tree in the garden. Her father lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death. The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. To clear her mother’s name Sophia needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there…” (Syndetics summary)

Kill the farm boy / Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
Syndetics book cover“Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born… there is a faraway kingdom…the land of Pell. There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death… and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar ‘happily ever after’ that ever once-upon-a-timed.” (Syndetics summary)

Wild fire / Ann Cleeves.
Syndetics book coverWild Fire is the eighth, and final book, in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series Shetland: Welcoming. Wild. Remote. Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, an English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life.But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate.” (Syndetics summary)

End game / David Baldacci.
Syndetics book cover“Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man. But now, Blue Man is missing. Last seen in rural Colorado, Blue Man had taken a rare vacation to go fly fishing in his hometown when he disappeared off the grid. With no communications since, the team can’t help but fear the worst.” (Syndetics summary)

The after wife / Cass Hunter.
Syndetics book cover“When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.
She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband. Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.
But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death…a gift called iRachel.
The After Wife is an emotional story about love, loss, longing and belonging.” (Syndetics summary)

All for nothing / Walter Kempowski ; translated from the German by Anthea Bell ; introduction by Jenny Erpenbeck.
Syndetics book cover“A wealthy family tries–and fails–to seal themselves off from the chaos of post-World War II life. The von Globig family’s manor house, the Georgenhof, is falling into disrepair. Auntie runs the estate as best she can since Eberhard von Globig, a special officer in the German army, went to war, leaving behind his beautiful but vague wife, Katharina, and her bookish twelve-year-old son, Peter. As the road fills with Germans fleeing the occupied territories, the Georgenhof begins to receive strange visitors–a Nazi violinist, a dissident painter, a Baltic baron, even a Jewish refugee. Yet in the main, life continues as banal, wondrous, and complicit as ever for the family, until their caution, their hedged bets, and their denial are answered by the wholly expected events they haven’t allowed themselves to imagine.” (Syndetics summary)

Sleeping beauties : a novel / Stephen King and Owen King.
Syndetics book cover“In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare.
One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? ” (Syndetics summary)

Astounding tales and amazing stories: the best of this month’s Science Fiction releases

by the pricking of her thumb

Astounding tales and amazing stories from universes near and far beckon in this month’s selection of Science Fiction novels. Titles include a very welcome re-release of Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation as well as Chinese Science Fiction master Cixin Liu’s Ball Lightning, in which he explores the ball lightning phenomenon with a personal (and almost obsessional) passion. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe winter vow / Tim Akers.
“Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage between the north and the south. Three heroes–Malcolm and Ian Blakeley and Gwendolyn Adair–must end the bloodshed before chaos is unleashed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverFoundation / Isaac Asimov.
“The first volume in Issac Asimov’s world-famous saga, winner of the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Novel Series. Long after Earth was forgotten, a peaceful and unified galaxy took shape, an Empire governed from the majestic city-planet of Trantor. The system worked, and grew, for countless generations. Everyone believed it would work forever. Everyone except Hari Seldon. FOUNDATION is the story of the First Foundation, on the remote planet of Terminus, from which those secrets were withheld.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverXeelee : redemption / Stephen Baxter.  
“This is the centre of the Galaxy. And in a history without war with the humans, the Xeelee have had time to built an immense structure here. The Xeelee Belt has a radius ten thousand times Earth’s orbital distance. It is a light year in circumference. If it was set in the solar system it would be out in the Oort Cloud, among the comets – but circling the sun. If it was at rest it would have a surface area equivalent to about thirty billion Earths. But it is not at rest: it rotates at near lightspeed. And because of relativistic effects, distances are compressed for inhabitants of the Belt, and time drastically slowed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChercher La Femme / L. Timmel Duchamp.
“Diplomat Julia, a member of a socialistic human society known as the Pax, is the head of a mission to a far-off world, La Femme. The mission’s primary purpose is recovery of the first ship sent to make contact with La Femme’s inhabitants, though further diplomatic advancement is planned as well. Julia is distracted from the mission objectives by her deep analysis of her life thus far and the utopian ideal she lives by, particularly when she deals with her splintered crew.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverThe fated sky / Mary Robinette Kowal.
The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but could the International Aerospace Coalition ever stand the thought of putting a woman on such a potentially dangerous mission? Could Elma knowingly take the place of other astronauts who have been overlooked because of their race? And could she really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The point / Dixon, John
“Scarlett Winter has always been an outsider, and not only because she’s a hardcore daredevil and born troublemaker–she has been hiding superhuman powers she doesn’t yet understand. Now she’s been recruited by a secret West Point unit for cadets with extraordinary abilities. Scarlett and her fellow students are learning to hone their skills, from telekinetic combat to running recon missions through strangers’ dreamscapes. At The Point, Scarlett discovers that she may be the most powerful cadet of all. With the power to control pure energy, she’s a human nuclear bomb–and she’s not sure she can control her powers much longer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ball lightning / Liu, Cixin
“When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station. The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier in particle physics. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

By the pricking of her thumb : a real-town murder / Roberts, Adam
“Private Investigator Alma is caught up in another impossible murder. One of the world’s four richest people may be dead – but nobody is sure which one. Hired to discover the truth behind the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the ultra-rich, Alma must juggle treating her terminally ill lover with a case which may not have a victim. Inspired by the films of Kubrick, this stand-alone novel returns to the near-future of The Real-Town Murders, and puts Alma on a path to a world she can barely understand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The future is blue / Valente, Catherynne M.
“Collection of thirteen stories full of fable, fairy tale and myth.” From Hugo award winning author Catherynne M Valente. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Destination: Antipodes 2020 AD

The antipodes are shaping up to be a fine destination in July,August 2020 if you’re keen or vaguely interested in what the SciFi/Speculative fiction/Fantasy/Graphic Novel/Gaming world has to offer. Aotearoa New Zealand is hosting WorldCon 2020.

Guests of honour at Worldcon 2020 are authors Mercedes Lackey and husband Larry Dixon. New Zealand artist Greg Broadmore and current Australian Science fiction foundation president.

Mercedes Lackey has an impressive backlist of titles where worlds and people have come into being. Collaborative work with the likes of Rosemary Edgehill, Robert  Gellis, James Mallory and Andre Norton, makes up a part of this collection. Her prolific fantasy output spans more than three decades of published work.  Some works feature husband Larry Dixon, author in his own right and artist famed for his work with birdlife. Known for detailing particular aspects of her worlds, like the page dedicated to sail making in the new Valdemar work, The Hills have Spies. The library holds a modest 121 titles of this author alone.  These two have paired up for a few conventions before, leaving their oddly shaped home in Oklahoma and collection of creatures to engage and inspire Con goers.


Local talent, Greg Broadmore has brought the appallingly flawed Dr Grordbort’s universe to life through the medium of Graphic Novels and models, some to look at and some to commit hideous acts with.  The art work both on the page and very ineractive real-life ray guns is also heading into the realm of virtual reality with Magic Leap. These are fantastic concepts coming from a detailed well imagined graphic world, great content for the Con.

Rose Mitchell

Rose Mitchell has been awarded Fan Guest of honour for her stirling services to the science fiction community. Rose, a lifelong science fiction fan has been a stalwart at innumerable conferences and is the current President of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation.

For lots more fascinating facts please connect to CoNZealand.

Tour the far reaches of space – new Science Fiction

From a galaxy far, far away comes our most recent selection of  scintillating  new Science Fiction titles — featuring some of the genre’s most popular writers. Included in this month’s selections are new works by Benedict Jacka and Mercedes Lackey; and highly recommended by us is the reissue of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — which won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novella (and would be a top choice if you are looking for a Star Wars  read to curl up with in the colder weather).  The icing on the cake this month is a very welcome reissue of one of our favourite Science Fiction books by one of our favourite Science fiction writers — the masterwork that is “The Lathe of Heaven”, by Ursula K Le Guin.  Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe lathe of heaven : a novel / Ursula K. Le Guin.The Lathe of Heaven
“In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAdrift / Rob Boffard.
“In the far reaches of space, a tour group embarks on what will be the trip of a lifetime – in more ways than one . . .
For one small group, a tour of the nearby Horsehead Nebula is meant to be a short but stunning highlight in the trip of a lifetime. But when a mysterious ship destroys Sigma Station and everyone on it, suddenly their tourist shuttle is stranded. They have no weapons. No food. No water. No one back home knows they’re alive. And the mysterious ship is hunting them.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverRecord of a spaceborn few / Becky Chambers.
“Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way. But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKill the farm boy / Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson.Kill the Farm Boy: The Tales of Pell
“In an irreverent new series in the tradition of Monty Python, the bestselling authors of the Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars: Phasma reinvent fantasy, fairy tales, and floridly written feast scenes. Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told. This is not that fairy tale. There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosen. And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverArabella the Traitor of Mars
“Hail the conquering heroes! The tyrant, Napoleon, has been defeated with Arabella and the crew of the Diana leading the final charge. But, victory has come at a tremendous cost. Britain’s savior, Lord Nelson, has not survived the final battle and the good people of the Diana must now return to London as both heroes and pallbearers. At last husband and wife, Arabella and Captain Singh seem to have earned the attention of great men, ones who have new uses in mind for the Mars Company captain and his young wife. Both Company and Crown have decided that it is time to bring Mars into the folds of Empire, and they think Singh is the perfect man to do it.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverMarked / Benedict Jacka.Marked
“Alex Verus is tracking down dangerous magical items unleashed into the world by Dark Mages – however, when the Light Council decide they need his help in negotiating with the perpetrators, Alex must use all his cunning and magic to strike a deal. The ninth novel in the urban fantasy series which began with Fated – the Alex Verus novels are magic-filled fan favourites, perfect for readers of Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovitch.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAvalanche / written by Mercedes Lackey with Cody Martin, Dennis Lee & Veronica Giguere ; edited by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon.
“Ultima Thule has been destroyed — but somehow the Thulians mounted an even bigger force to destroy Metis. The Metisians that escaped the carnage and destruction of their secret city now must somehow find somewhere safe to go — without getting snapped up by various world governments. And now the Thulians have changed their tactics to blitz guerilla warfare.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBinti / Nnedi Okorafor.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverCondomnauts
“In the 24th century, Josue Valdes’ rise from the slums Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. Once an orphan who spent his childhood on the street racing cockroaches for cash, Josue found his true-calling: a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony. Following the success of Super Extra Grande and A Planet for Rent, the wildly inventive and sexually progressive Condomnauts is a raucous and uproarious adventure that would make even Barbarella blush.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverAlliancesThrawn: Alliances (Star Wars)
“‘I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.’ Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root — its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn.”  (Adapted from Syndetics)

Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

Sometimes reading gives you those “I can’t believe they did that!” moments, when an author turns around a plot or a character arc, or kills off the last person you expected!  Sometimes you get an “I see what they did there” when writing unexpectedly speaks directly to your own life experience. Sometimes you want to tell someone about it…

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The surrogate / Jensen, Louise
“Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream. But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets. And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye. As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was a really good psychological thriller with a good twist at the end.  Overall would recommend it to other fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Couple Next Door, etc.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5 stars)

Stick together / Hénaff, Sophie
“After their successful solving of three cold cases and exposing corruption at the very highest level of the Paris police force, Anne Capestan’s squad of misfits and no-hopers should be in a celebratory mood. However, now despised by their colleagues at 36 quai des Orfevres and worried for their future, morale has never been lower among the members of the Awkward Squad. Capestan does her best to motivate her troops, but even she cannot maintain a cheerful facade when she has to investigate the murder of Commissaire Serge Rufus, the father of her ex-husband.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was entertaining and well written with characters that were unusual enough to be memorable.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

A dangerous crossing / Khan, Ausma Zehanat
” For Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty, the Syrian refugee crisis is about to become personal. Esa’s childhood friend, Nathan Clare, calls him in distress: his sister, Audrey, has vanished from a Greek island where the siblings run an NGO. Audrey had been working to fast-track refugees to Canada, but now, she is implicated in the double-murder of a French Interpol agent and a young man who had fled the devastation in Syria.” (Catalogue)

“The murders are incidental to the main (or more important) story – that of life as a refugee in a Greek refugee camp.  It is written from an outsider’s perspective, but I almost felt I was in the camp at times…” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The girl in the moon / Goodkind, Terry
Angela juggles multiple jobs to live a secluded life in a cabin in the mountains. But she also lives a secret life, right under everyone’s noses. Because her family’s bloodline carries the ability to recognize killers, she adopts a solitary, violent existence in service of her own, personal mission in life. When Angela unexpectedly finds herself the prey of a group of international terrorists, she is the only one who knows the truth of what they are about to do. She might look like an unlikely hero. She might also be our only hope.” (Catalogue)

“Fantastic. I will definitely read other books written by this author. I hope this author writes further in the series with the lead female, Angels Constantine.” (no star rating given)

I am watching you / Driscoll, Teresa
“A missing girl. A tormented witness. A web of lies. And someone is watching… When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it – until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls – beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard – has disappeared. A year later, Anna is still missing. Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night – and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. Someone knows where Anna is – and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ells.”  (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was an excellent read. A great story that kept me glued.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 star rating)

Ripping yarns in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Science Fiction has a lineage in rollicking yarns, starting with Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. Standing on their shoulders, through a couple of tiers of acrobatically stacked authors, are some talented writers with their own additions to this style of writing.

The world of the imagination has created a forthright champion who has a certain savoir faire — a certainty in their abilities that draws a particular flavour to the adventures we share with them. A ripping yarn has a pace set to it, and adversities that seem both insurmountable and a test of the character’s personal mettle. Our heroes forge through sagas filled with action, foes, allies, and a twist in the tale is almost inevitable. Happy reading!

The long way to a small, angry planet / Chambers, Becky
“Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there. But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she’s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war. Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.” (Catalogue)

Aurorarama / Valtat, Jean-Christophe
“A startling, seductive literary novel that entwines suspense, science fiction, adventure, romance and history into an intoxicating new genre. What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer.” (Catalogue)

Railsea / Miéville, China
“On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt. The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life.  When they come across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds in the derelict leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. Soon he’s hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers.” (Catalogue)

Constance Verity saves the world / Martinez, A. Lee
“In her Last Adventure, Connie successfully became an ordinary person. People warned her it would be boring, and they were right. That’s exactly why Connie loves it. But there’s an Adventurer-shaped hole in the cosmos now, and a lot of interested parties eager to fill it. Not all of those candidates are fit for the role, and if The Adventurer falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to chaos and destruction. Constance still has all the skills of her old life, but she’s no longer the chosen one. Yet when the fate of the world is at stake, she sets off, reluctantly, to keep the forces of evil from stealing the destiny she abandoned” (Catalogue)

Angelmaker / Harkaway, Nick
“Joe Spork repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. All Joe wants is a quiet life, but when he fixes one particularly unusual device his life is suddenly upended. The client? Unknown. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine.” (Catalogue)
Nick Harkaway’s second published title Angelmaker sets a great pace with interesting characters and good banter. For a more brain stretching exercise his latest book Gnomon layers it’s way through a surveillance ridden future with a puzzle of cause and effect.

The explorers guild : a passage to Shambhala / Baird, Jonathan
“Set against the backdrop of World War I, with Western Civilization on the edge of calamity, the first installment in The Explorers Guild series, A Passage to Shambhala, concerns the Guild’s quest to find the golden city of Buddhist myth. The search will take them from the Polar North to the Mongolian deserts, through the underground canals of Asia to deep inside the Himalayas, before the fabled city finally divulges its secrets and the globe-spanning journey plays out to its startling conclusion.” (Catalogue)