Reader’s choice: Engaging with fiction titles

Recent selections from our collection by patrons include thrillers, science fiction, historical and contemporary fiction. Some reviews will make you wonder if your reading experience will be a little or a lot different.

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 last girl / Hart, Joe
“A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than one percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women. Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away, told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.” (Catalogue)

“Although the pace was a bit slow to start it developed into a very exciting book. I look forward to the next in the series.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The wife : a novel / Wolitzer, Meg
The Wife is a wise, sharp-eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she’s made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it’s also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man’s world.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book very apt in this 125 years of suffrage, as Joan Castleman finally decides at the age of 64 years to have another chance at life.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 star rating)

Man out of time / Bishop, Stephanie
“One summer, a long time ago, Stella sat watching her father cry while the sky clouded over. He had tried to make amends: for his failures, for forgetting to buy the doll she once hoped for, for the terrible things he had done. The first time Stella sensed that something was wrong was on her ninth birthday. There was an accident, and when she opened her eyes there was the tang of blood in her mouth. Leon was beside her. But not quite there. In the winter, when her father finally came home from hospital, he looked different. Looked at her differently. Now he was missing, and Stella held the key to his discovery. But did he want to be found?” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was bleak and the only way I could deal with it was to dip into it every 20 pages or so.  Nothing like My Name Is Lucy Barton, which I loved.” (Unrateable)

The late bloomers’ club : a novel / Miller, Louise
“Two sisters, beloved diner owner Nora and her short-on-cash filmmaker sibling, Kit, are inheriting the property of local cake-making legend Peggy. The town is divided on whether the sisters should sell the land to a big-box developer, which Nora opposes, but everyone wants to find Peggy’s lost dog. Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, is perfectly happy serving up coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what’s “the usual.” But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her free-spirited, younger sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town’s beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was a great light read. I didn’t want to put it down.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

River under the road / Spencer, Scott
“Thirteen parties over the course of two decades–an opium infused barbeque, a reception for a doomed presidential candidate, a fund-raiser for a blind child who speaks in tongues, a visit to one of New York’s fabled sex clubs–brilliantly reveal the lives of two couples. Funny and cutting, affecting and expansive, River Under the Road is Scott Spencer’s masterpiece of all that lies beneath our everyday lives-a story about the pursuit of love, art, and money, and the inevitable reckoning that awaits us all.” (Catalogue)

“Well written and well developed characters.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐  (4/5 stars)

Belladonna / Drndić, Daša
“Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, full of empathy, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In Belladonna, Dasa Drndic pushes to the limit the issues about illness and the (im)possibility of living (and dying) in contemporary, utterly dehumanised world where old age and illness are the scarlet letters of shame thrown in the face of the advertised eternal youth and beauty.” (Catalogue)

“Most interesting and unusual. I feel I should read it again to pick up all the points.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  (5/5 stars)

The history of bees / Lunde, Maja
“This novel follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees–and to their children and one another–against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis… Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (adapted from Catalogue)

“A great read… I can envision an film.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 stars)

The orphan of Florence / Kalogridis, Jeanne
“In this irresistible historical novel set in the turbulent world of the Medicis, a young woman finds herself driven from pick-pocketing to espionage when she meets a mysterious man.” (Catalogue)

“Excellent, good storylines and interesting plot.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The Vogels: The strange and fascinating story behind NZ’s first ever Science Fiction novel

New Zealand has had a long love affair with Science Fiction starting perhaps with Sir Julius Vogel.
Sir Julius Vogel (1835 –1899) was the eighth Premier of New Zealand, a keen cricketer, partially deaf in one ear, regarded as the father of New Zealand railways, instrumental in the setup of the Otago Daily Times and described in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography as a ‘vastly ambitious’ and ‘clever, impulsive, generous, strong-willed to the point of being domineering.” A politician and entrepreneur who enjoyed the good things in life perhaps to excess. (He suffered badly from gout in later life.)
In his retirement Vogel also wrote New Zealand’s first ever Science Fiction novel published in London in 1889 called “Anno Domini 2000”; or, “Woman’s Destiny” in which poverty had vanished and women held the highest posts in government.

You can read this work by clicking the link below:
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-AnnVoge.html

You can further explore his life  by borrowing the following eBook  from our Overdrive collection:

Syndetics book coverJulius Vogel [electronic resource] / Raewyn Dalziel.
“Julius Vogel dominated New Zealand politics in a way that no man had done before him and few have done since. He was behind the policy that transformed New Zealand from a collection of sparsely settled and isolated provinces into a unified nation, he cultivated trade connections and was an advocate of greater colonial autonomy and equal rights between men and women; he was an optimistic visionary. Raewyn Dalziel’s definitive biography, Julius Vogel: Business Politician, traces both the career and the character of the man.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

To honour this landmark work and achievement, the New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention annually awards the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (nicknamed The Vogels”) to “recognise achievement in New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, horror, and science fiction fandom “.
The 2018 awards for best novel and best youth novel went to the following works :

Best Novel
Syndetics book coverHounds of the underworld / Dan Rabarts, Lee Murray.
“Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Best Youth Novel

Syndetics book coverThe traitor and the thief / Gareth Ward.
“A thief, a spy and a steampunk showdown at Traitor’s Gate! Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Befriended by eccentric Zonda Chubb, together they endeavour to unmask a traitor causing havoc within the palace.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

2018 Hugo Award Winners — plus, Worldcon coming to NZ in 2020!

The news that the 78th Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention, the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society) would be coming to Wellington in 2020 was greeted with excitement and no small amount of anticipation in our libraries! We hope you’re just as excited, and if you’re just coming to the news now, the icing on the cake is that master storyteller George R. R. Martin has been announced as Master of Ceremonies.

But, it’s not just the Master of Ceremonies announcement that has us salivating. All elements, strands and areas of the science fiction community will be catered for, and plans are afoot for the genre to be celebrated in style with events, workshops, signings and much, much more!

One aspect of Worldcon that has us the most excited, is that every year Worldcon hosts science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo Awards.  The Hugo awards are the science fiction world’s equivalent of the Pulitzers, the Oscars and the Grammys all rolled into one (we exaggerate, but only slightly!). It’s a wide and inclusive list this year. In past years, some of science fiction’s most loved authors have been recipients — Neil Gaiman, Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, Philip K. Dick, and Ursula K. Le Guin, amongst others.

This year’s Worldcon was in San José, California, and below you’ll find this year’s celebrated authors and their wonderful novels — recommended loudly by librarians near and far. Choose any one for an immersive reading experience, ideas that will expand and entertain, and the best of the best science fiction has to offer. Have a browse and join us in our excitement for 2020 and Wellington’s very own host city experience!

2018 Hugo Award Winners

Best Novel:

Syndetics book coverThe stone sky by  N.K. Jemisin.
“The shattering conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed  trilogy that began with The Fifth Season, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and The Obelisk Gate, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2017. The Moon will soon return — whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women. Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Best Related Work:

Syndetics book coverNo Time to Spare : Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K Le Guin. 
“In her last great frontier of life, old age, Ursula K. Le Guin explored new literary territory — the blog, a forum where she shined. The collected best of Ursula’s blog, No Time to Spare presents perfectly crystallized dispatches on what mattered to her late in life, her concerns with the world, and her wonder at it: “How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn. Billionaires, all of us.”” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Best Graphic story:

Syndetics book coverMonstress. Volume two, The blood / Marjorie Liu, writer ; Sana Takeda, artist.
“The Eisner-nominated Monstress is back! Maika, Kippa,and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat.”
(Adapted from Syndetics)

Best Young Adult book:

Syndetics book coverAkata warrior by (the fantastic) Nnedi Okorafor.
(Sequel to Akata Witch)
“A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

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)

Top picks from new Science Fiction arrivals

A Big Ship... book cover

The wild and wonderful world of science fiction writing is well represented in this month’s latest acquisitions. From Dan Abnett’s The Founding, to Mercedes Lackey’s A Scandal in Battersea there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this month’s latest batch of books. Take yourself into this wondrous cosmic universe of words!

Syndetics book coverThe founding / Dan Abnett.
“In the Chaos-infested Sabbat System, the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum – more commonly known as the Imperial Guard – stand shoulder to shoulder as they counter an invasion by heretical forces. Amongst the defenders of the Imperium are the troops of the Tanith First-and-Only, a displaced regiment forced to flee their home planet before it succumbed to the unrelenting assault of Chaos. Nicknamed ‘the Ghosts’, their specialist scouting role sees them thrown into the thickest of the fighting. Led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments and the lethal firepower of the enemy if they are to have any hope of achieving victory over the forces of Chaos.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of hidden things / Francesco Dimitri.
“Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up. A visit to his house increases the friends’ worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can’t go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss’s daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Quanderhorn xperimentations / Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall.
“England, 1952. A time of peace, regeneration and hope. A Golden Age. Unfortunately, it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn: a brilliant, maverick scientific genius with absolutely no moral compass. Assisted by a rag-tag crew – his part-insect “son” (reputedly ‘a major breakthrough in Artificial Stupidity’), a recovering amnesiac, a brilliant scientist with a half-clockwork brain, and a captured Martian hostage – he’ll save the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA scandal in Battersea / Mercedes Lackey.
“In this Victorian historical fantasy novel, a member of the famed Bloomsbury writers’ group attempts to conjure a doppelganger-an Earth Elemental Golem-to do his writing for him while he enjoys the London social scene. When a shadow image of himself knocks on his door some nights after his invocation, he lets it into the house thinking that his ritual has been a success, not realizing that the Golem is actually inhabited by the ghost of a murderous fiend-part Jack the Ripper and part Mr. Hyde.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOutcasts of order / L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
“Beltur, an Order mage, discovers he possesses frightening powers not seen for hundreds of years. With his new abilities, he survives the war in Elparta and saves the lives of all. However, victory comes with a price. His fellow mages now see him as a threat to be destroyed, and the local merchants want to exploit his power.
There’s only one way he can remain free and survive–he’s going to have to run.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSummerland / Hannu Rajaniemi.
“How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?
In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. But Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.
When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfterwar / Lilith Saintcrow.
“America has been devastated by a second civil war. The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins. One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA big ship at the edge of the universe / Alex White.
Firefly meets The Fast and the Furious Furious in this science fiction adventure series that follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to saving the universe.
A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Latest Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

The Bight Edge of the World cover

Read something great, intriguing, surprising or satisfying? Want to let other people know 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.

Shelter in place / Roberts, Nora
“Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “One word, ‘Brilliant’. There is a reason why Nora Roberts is an international bestseller, her books just keep getting better and better.” (no rating, but I guess it would be high!)

Ascendant / Campbell, Jack
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A good entry in a good series, although you get more out of it if you’ve red the books that come before it. A more thoughtful approach to political issues than is usual for military science fiction.” (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tane’s war / Weir, Brendaniel
“One lifetime, two battles. It’s 1953 and Briar is a dreamer living with his father in Pukekohe. His behaviour sees him sent to a training farm to be “turned into a man”. But the plan backfires when his arrival awakens feelings in fellow shearer, Aussie. Tane is the farm foreman and his Maori heritage sets him apart. Briar and Aussie threaten the walls Tane has built around his own secret past; walls created in the trenches of WW1. Tane is confronted with a choice. He cannot change history but maybe he can help change the future.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was excellent. It was very cleverly constructed with different interweaving timeframes and connected characters… It was also a sad eye-opener of cruel homophobia. Luckily views in Aotearoa are more tolerant now… (review abridged)” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The boat runner : a novel / Murphy, Devin
“Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was an excellent read for all mature readers… As an avid reader of books in the War genre I think this novel is among the very best with many unexpected twists and turns.  It certainly is thrilling” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kompromat / Johnson, Stanley
Kompromat reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A different slant on political events made this book very entertaining but at times a bit confusing. It told a reasonably plausible story which while not deep was thought provoking. Bang up to date too!”. (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the bright edge of the world / Ivey, Eowyn
“Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was great.  Brought an era to life with a present day contrast to a colonial era.” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

New sci fi and fantasy selections

Space Opera book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New sci fi and fantasy selections

The Wolf

This month’s featured science fiction and fantasy novels are selected from our wide range of new acquisitions, and include a series conclusion from Elizabeth May and a future cop mystery from award-winning author John Scalzi. There are also several novels that weave into their plots such themes as mining, alternative medieval Britain and bleak dystopian cities. All will ensure fascinating, thrilling reading.

Syndetics book coverHead on / John Scalzi.
“John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the critically acclaimed Lock In. Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it. Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field. Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth–and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fallen kingdom / Elizabeth May.
My name is Lady Aileana Kameron. First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world. Then one of them killed me. Now I’m fighting for more than revenge.
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarthcore / Scott Sigler.
“Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure. But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting … and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out firsthand why this treasure has never been unearthed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wolf / Leo Carlew.
“Carlew’s debut novel presents an alternate medieval Britain in which the isle of Albion is shared by human Saxons and two races of giants: the incredibly long-lived Anakim and the larger and rarer Unhieru. The uneasy peace between the southern Saxon kingdom and the Black Kingdom of the Anakim is broken as the Sutherners invade, scoring an unexpected victory and killing the current Black Lord. The novel follows both the Anakim heir, Roper, as he attempts to defend the kingdom from invasion while dealing with rivals for the throne, and the leader of the southern invasion, Bellamus, a commoner attempting to not only destroy the Anakim but also secure his own advancement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlackfish City / Sam J. Miller.
“After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay – crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBefore Mars : a Planetfall novel / Emma Newman.
“After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team. But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hyena and the hawk / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
“From the depths of myth an ancient enemy has returned: the Plague People, whose very presence obliterates whole villages; whose terror destroys minds. In their wake, nothing is left of the people, not their places, not their ways. On the plains, the warriors and the wise of all tribes gather to confront the aggressor. Loud Thunder leads his great war-host south, even as Tecumet and Asman head north with the Sun River army. With Maniye Many Tracks, they plan to forge a new unity between the tribes such as the world has never seen. But will it be enough to stave off an oblivion that might devour even their gods?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAscendant / Jack Campbell.
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least. When a “peacekeeping force” carrying thousands of enemy soldiers arrives in Kosatka’s star system, the people of that world face an apparently hopeless battle to retain their freedom. It’s said that the best defense is a good offense. But even if a bold and risky move succeeds, Geary and Darcy may not survive it…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne way / S. J. Morden.
“Andy Weir’s The Martian meets Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in this edge-of-your-seat science fiction thriller about one man’s fight for survival on a planet where everyone’s a killer. Frank Kittridge is serving life for murdering his son’s drug dealer, so when he’s offered a deal by Xenosystems Operations – the corporation that owns the prison – he takes it. He’s been selected to help build the first permanent base on Mars. Unfortunately, his crewmates are just as guilty of their crimes as he is. As the convicts set to work on the frozen wastes of Mars, the accidents multiply.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOversleeper [paperback]
“What do you do when you wake up one morning and find that everything you know has changed? On Monday morning Ignatius Inuus finds himself on the run in a New York he barely recognises. Helped by a mysterious young woman, he starts to learn about the new regime. And, the brutal society – in which people survive at the expense of their humanity – seems to be more nightmare than dream. In his quest to force change, he discovers that when you possess the power of life or death over people, choosing life is not as simple as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Readers Choice fiction selections

Reviews from library patrons are a great way to find out what people have loved reading from the new additions to the fiction collection. 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.

Here are some recent reviews featuring an interesting mix of subjects and genres: mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, humour, psychological fiction, thrillers and New Zealand environmental activism.

The changeling : a novel / LaValle, Victor D.Book Jacket for: The changeling : a novel
“This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent. An unusual voice, but marvellous blend of modernity and fairy-tale, with powerful themes and insight.  Very Satisfying.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Stranded

Stranded / MacLeod, Bracken
“Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was suspenseful, gripping and well researched. Doesn’t lean on the numerous clichés of the horror genre which makes it so engaging.  A great read!” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Hanna who fell from the skyHanna who fell from the sky / Meades, Christopher
“With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world–and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “What a well written novel, thoroughly enjoyed it, well worth reading. Never read any of Meades novels before would love to read more of his material.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: The last hoursThe last hours / Walters, Minette
“When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Well written, engaging, couldn’t put down – read all night. Can’t wait for the sequel this year.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: EurekaEureka / Quinn, Anthony
“Summer, 1967. As London shimmers in a heat haze and swoons to the sound of Sergeant Pepper, a mystery film – Eureka – is being shot by German wunderkind Reiner Kloss. The screenwriter, Nat Fane, would do anything for a hit but can’t see straight for all the acid he’s dropping.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Was an enjoyable read, especially in it’s evocation of London in the ‘swinging sixties’.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: KrusoKruso / Seiler, Lutz
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was compelling.  Via fantasy and fact Seiler deftly weaves a story about East German idealists, refugees and escapists told through the perspective of a challenged young man” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eye of the songbird / Munro, Michael
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world’s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land, Antarctica?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A highly relevant New Zealand thriller with it’s plot centred on one of the big issues of the day; climate change.  Highly recommended” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The miranda : a novel / Nicholson, G. J.
“The Miranda is at turns a biting satire about the secrets we keep from our neighbors, and about the invisible and unceasing state of war in which most Westerners unconsciously live.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was like a Coen Brothers movie: darkly satirical. The detachment of the protagonist is key to this novel – he was a psychologist turned government agent training operatives to withstand torture. He is not disaffected, quite the reverse, but he is clinical , perceptive and interesting. A good dark read.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

New science fiction novels

The Tangled Lands

All aspects of science fiction and fantasy — dystopian fiction, space warfare, aliens, magic, planetary missions, and much more — are represented each month in our selections from the new novels added to Wellington City Libraries collection. Readers of this genre are always guaranteed hours of escapist pleasure.

Syndetics book coverThe fallen kingdom / Elizabeth May.
My name is Lady Aileana Kameron. First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world. Then one of them killed me. Now I’m fighting for more than revenge.
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer’s story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tangled lands / Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias Buckell.
“Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them. In four interrelated parts, The Tangled Lands is an evocative and epic story of resistance and heroic sacrifice in the twisted remains surrounding the last great city of Khaim.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bitter twins / Jen Williams.
“The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again. Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists. But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe long sunset / Jack McDevitt.
“From Nebula Award winner Jack McDevitt comes the eighth installment in the popular The Academy series. Despite taking part in the recent scientific breakthrough that rejuvenates the human body and expands one’s lifespan, Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins finds herself as a famous interstellar pilot with little to do, until a message from an alien race arrives. The message is a piece of music from an unexplored area. Despite the fact that this alien race could pose a great danger and that this message could have taken several thousand years to travel, the program prepares the last interstellar ship for the journey. As the paranoia grows, Hutch and her crew make an early escape–but what they find at the other end of the galaxy is completely unexpected.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwice bitten : an Argeneau novel / Lynsay Sands.
“For someone who’s been around for over a hundred and forty years, immortal Elspeth Argeneau hasn’t done a whole lot of living. Now that she’s moved away from her controlling mother, she’s tracking down rogue vampires and enjoying some overdue freedom. A fling would be fun. A life mate can wait. Yet to Elspeth’s surprise, her landlady’s hot grandson checks both boxes. Wyatt fell instantly in love with Elspeth four years ago. He’s stunned to run into her again, especially as she has no memory of him. With mysterious “accidents” besieging Elspeth, the ex-Special Forces soldier appoints himself her bodyguard. But time is running out to uncover the truth about her enemies–and rediscover the man determined to love her for eternity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)