The ninth Rivers of London book available to borrow

“Holy paranormal activity, Nightingale – to the Jag mobile.”
― Ben Aaronovitch, Whispers Under Ground

If you are one of  the legions of Rivers of London fans out there, and we know there are lots of you, then this month’s newly-acquired fantasy and science fiction titles has a real treat in store; the much-anticipated ninth instalment of the worldwide bestselling series is here! It’s called Amongst Our Weapons and is, of course, written by the fabulous Ben Aaronovitch. If you haven’t read the series yet, then we have all the previous books available to borrow. Click here for more details.

The Rivers of London is an urban fantasy series set in London and has apprentice wizard and detective Peter Grant as its eponymous hero. The books in the series are funny, entertaining and original. It is no surprise that they have become such a beloved series. The latest instalment, Amongst Our Weapons, revolves around a murder in the supposedly impenetrable London Silver Vaults – a murder so mysterious that magical involvement is strongly suspected.

We were thrilled that, a little while ago, Ben Aaronovitch agreed to a question-and-answer session with us about the series as well as his other work, such as being a scriptwriter for Doctor Who. Click here to see our very extensive range of Doctor Who items. And if you missed it first time round, we’ve put that Q and A session up below.

There’s also a plethora of other fantastic tiles in this month newly acquired fantasy and science fiction titles, which you can read more about by scrolling down.

Amongst our weapons / Aaronovitch, Ben
“The London Silver Vaults–for well over a century, the largest collection of silver for sale in the world. It has more locks than the Bank of England and more cameras than a paparazzi convention. Not somewhere you can murder someone and vanish without a trace–only that’s what happened. The disappearing act, the reports of a blinding flash of light, and memory loss amongst the witnesses all make this a case for Detective Constable Peter Grant and the Special Assessment Unit. Alongside their boss DCI Thomas Nightingale, the SAU find themselves embroiled in a mystery that encompasses London’s tangled history, foreign lands and, most terrifying of all, the North!  …” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The carnival of ash / Beckerlegge, Tom
“Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries … Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith, arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil … A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Scorpica / Macallister, G.R.
“Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other, and new threats to each nation rise from within. Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All the horses of Iceland / Tolmie, Sarah
“Filled with the magic and darkened whispers of a people on the cusp of major cultural change, this tale follows a Norse trader on his travels through Central Asia, where he barters for horses and returns with much, much more.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Kairos / Jones, Gwyneth A.
“London. Early 21st Century. A Conservative government is in power in the UK, bringing increased wealth disparity, an ever-more militant police state, and rising civil discontent as the wealthy govern for themselves rather than the people. But BREAKTHRU – a pharmaceutical company turned religious cult – have the answer. They call it Kairos. Kairos allows the user to not just see a different world, but shape the world to their very will. Perfect for a cult of like-minded individuals. Disastrous when it is exposed to the general public. As disparate groups of people try to shape the world into their own image, reality itself is placed under threat. With society so divided, is there any way to pull the world back together? Written in 1988, this remarkably prescient book received great critical acclaim..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The circus infinite / Wong, Khan
“A mixed-species fugitive, Jes tries to blend in on a pleasure moon, but instead catches the attention of a crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job and is forced to bend to the mobster’s will until he decides to take the big boss down.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

 

Wild and wicked things / May, Francesca
“On Crow Island, people whispered, real magic lurked just below the surface, but Annie Mason never expected her enigmatic new neighbor to be a witch. When she witnesses a confrontation between her best friend Bea and the infamous Emmeline Delacroix at one of Emmeline’s extravagantly illicit parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where magic can buy what money can not; a world where the consequence of a forbidden blood bargain might be death.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She who became the sun / Parker-Chan, Shelley
“To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything. “I refuse to be nothing…” In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness… In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected…..” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Join the phenomena – Pachinko by Min Jin Lee


Pachinko is a ‘powerful story about resilience and compassion’ – Barack Obama.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee has become a cultural phenomenon over the last few years, gaining legions of fans and spawning a smash hit television series. Now, thanks to Libby, we are excited to offer this unlimited access to the eBook and audiobook for a limited time!

On its release in 2017, Pachinko gained rave reviews from the likes of from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian. Reviewers have compared the book to the works of writers like Charles Dickens or John Galsworthy, thanks in part to its epic historical sweep and its emotional resonance.

The plot revolves around four generations of a Korean immigrant family who, after being exiled from Korea, forge a new life in their adopted homeland of Japan. Set between the years of 1910 and 1989, the novel covers a huge sweep of time when the vagrancies of history often played a pivotal role to the fates of all concerned. At the heart of the books, you’ll find an exploration of human relationships and the ups and downs of a family. Many themes are explored in an expressive and emotional style; amongst them themes of discrimination, family and cultural identity,  faith  and exclusion.

The book has been shortlisted for a whole plethora of prizes, including being a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction 2017. Since its release, it has sold over one million copies.

Now is your chance to grab an electronic copy of the book to see what the phenomenon is all about! Simply login to Overdrive or Libby with your library card to access a copy. Join the Pachinko phenomena and read now!

Overdrive cover Pachinko, Min Jin Lee (eBook)
“Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story. Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Pachinko,’Min Jin Lee (Audiobook)
“Yeongdo, Korea – 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child: their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then, Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Run, Rose, Run: Dolly Parton’s first novel

via GIPHY

 I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are and to love who they love. – Dolly Parton

It many come as no great surprise that Dolly Parton is a heroine to many librarians . Not only is she one of the greatest country and Western artists ever, as well as a fine actress with twelve major films under her belt and over 400 television appearances. We particularly like 9 to 5, for which she incidentally did the Oscar nominated theme song for, and her cameo part in Gnomeo & Juliet where she provided the voice for Dolly Gnome. She is also a highly successful businessperson whose ventures are often community focussed with a distinct humanitarian emphasis.

It is, however, her charitable and philanthropic work that draws the most admiration. Since the mid-1980’s she has supported numerous charitable organisations, especially through her Dollywood Foundation. Her charitable work often has a children’s literacy element, indeed in 2018 Dolly Parton was honoured by the Library of Congress after her charity sent out its hundred millionth free book! She also recently financially and vocally supported the development of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

We are pleased to announce that we now have copies of her first foray into fiction, Run, Rose, Run. Run, Rose, Run is a tense thriller about a young rising country singer called AnnieLee who must go on the run. The book is a collaborative effort with the hugely popular  bestselling novelist  James Patterson. Dolly said of the book, “In a sense, the story is a cautionary tale about the industry’. Parton has also created an album to accompany the book! ( see borrowing details below).

It seems that for this superstar nothing is beyond her talents, and it is for very good reasons indeed that Dolly Parton is one of the most-honoured female country performers of all time. Below are details on how to borrow Run, Rose, Run, and also links to some of our other highly recommended newly acquired fiction titles.

Run, Rose, run / Parton, Dolly
“From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller–a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive. Every song tells a story. She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her. She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past. Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny. It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her. Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Run Rose run. / Parton, Dolly
“Nearly 50 studio albums into her career, Dolly Parton manages to find a novel hook for Run, Rose, Run, her first record since 2017’s I Believe in You. In this case, her hook is literally a novel — one she co-wrote with James Patterson.  Thankfully, album doesn’t require even passing knowledge of its printed cousin, working quite well as a standalone album in its own right.  Perhaps cloaking her personal experiences in the guise of a fictional narrative allowed Parton to allude to her past in this fashion, but no matter the inspiration, these moments are the grace notes that help make Run, Rose, Run a satisfying listen on its own terms. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In Amber’s wake / Leunens, Christine
“Set in New Zealand during the fast-changing, tumultuous 1980s era of the anti-nuclear movement, Springbok rugby tour protests, and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, this romantic drama is as unpredictable as it is powerful and heartfelt. Ethan Grieg, a film student, is in love with his close friend Amber Deering. Amber loves Ethan dearly, but not in the way that Ethan longs for. Instead, the man Amber chooses is widower Stuart Reeds, a charming, refined British investor almost two generations older than her.  When secrets become exposed and nothing is as it seems, each will be cornered into committing acts they could have never predicted.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The cancer ladies’ running club / Lloyd, Josie
“When Keira receives her breast cancer diagnosis she doesn’t want to have to tell her children or her husband Tom, and she doesn’t want to step back from work. She doesn’t want to sit in a hospital and stare mortality in the face, nor be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club. But, as she is forced to accept everything must change and her health becomes something she can’t rely on, Keira finds herself embracing running. Hot, sweaty running in the company of a group of brilliant, funny women each going through treatment. One step at a time Keira is going to reclaim something. Her family, her business, her life. Moving and uplifting, this is a novel about love, family and the power of finding your tribe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mary’s boy, Jean-Jacques : and other stories / O’Sullivan, Vincent
“In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, we last see Dr Frankenstein’s Creature shunned by human society and crossing the Arctic wasteland. What if he were rescued by an eccentric English expedition intent on sailing from pole to pole and back – only to be cast away again in a remote fiord in Aotearoa’s deep south? This intriguing speculation ignites the novella that lies at the heart of Vincent O’Sullivan’s electrifying new story collection Mary’s Boy, Jean-Jacques. Elsewhere, O’Sullivan takes us deep into other times and minds. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Beats of the pa’u / Samuela, Maria
“And in the night time we will dance in the moonlight to the quick, steady beats of the pa’u. The pa’u is the pulse of the Cook Islands, a rhythm carrying narratives of a culture to its people. But beyond the reach of its sound, on another shore, a community is working over the course of decades to build a new life. Kura lands in the footsteps of his father, whose twenty-year estrangement has come to a head. Katerina starts planning for a future, but must bend to the whim of another. Ana is received into a sacred sisterhood. And an Island Mama sets out the rules for love. Beats of the Pa’u is a collection of stories about first- and second-generation Cook Islands New Zealanders living in 1950s to modern-day New Zealand.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Young Mungo : a novel / Stuart, Douglas
“The story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James. Born under different stars–Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic–they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Their environment is a hyper-masculine and sectarian one, for gangs of young men and the violence they might dole out dominate the Glaswegian estate where they live. And yet against all odds Mungo and James become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong….” (Catalogue)

French braid / Tyler, Anne
“The Garretts take their first and last family vacation in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever venture beyond Baltimore, but in some ways they have never been farther apart. Mercy has trouble resisting the siren call of her aspirations to be a painter, which means less time keeping house for her husband, Robin. Their teenage daughters, steady Alice and boy-crazy Lily, could not have less in common. Their youngest, David, is already intent on escaping his family’s orbit, for reasons none of them understands. Yet, as these lives advance across decades, the Garretts’ influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author Interview: Nikky Lee in conversation


How long can it take to write an epic young adult fantasy novel ?
How do you go about creating an immersive and detailed fantasy world ?
How do you go about writing believable and compelling fantasy creatures ?
What does it take as a writer to bring such a huge project to a successful fruition ?
What is it like to win a PitDark publishing competition ?
And indeed what is a PitDark publishing competition ?

Well, our interview with debut fantasy novelist Nikky Lee reveals the answers to all these questions.

Fantasy novelist Nikky Lee has just released her first full length novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar. The book  is a thrilling, young adult high fantasy epic tale (the first in a series), set in a wonderfully imagined and detailed fantasy universe.  The tale revolves round a young girl, Lyss, who accidently gets magically bonded to a half bird half  person creature called a Rarkyn; A bond that threatens to drive her mad. The book is a quest tale that features various forms of magic, and a narrative where different types of worlds intersect . At its core, the novel explores themes of acceptance, revenge, redemption and how to deal with anxiety.

Lee grew up in Western Australia and now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with a husband, a dog and a couch potato cat. Whilst The Rarkyn’s Familiar is Nikky’s first novel, it is far away from her first published work. Nikky has already won a whole host of awards for her short stories, as well as being published in numerous magazines, anthologies. Nikky has also had works broadcasted on the radio.

We are thrilled that Nikky Lee took time out from her very busy schedule to discuss her new book, and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to her. For more information visit www.nikkythewriter.com.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. You can hear the interview below. You can also place a reserve for The Rarkyn’s Familiar which is due into the library soon, for details see below.

Rarkyn’s Familiar. / Lee, Nikky
“A perfect story for fans of Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS. An orphan bent on revenge. A monster searching for freedom. A forbidden pact that binds their fates. Lyss had heard her father’s screams, smelled the iron-tang of his blood. She witnessed his execution. And plotted her revenge. Then, a violent encounter traps Lyss in a blood-pact with a Rarkyn from the otherworld, imbuing her with the monster’s forbidden magic-a magic that will erode her sanity. To break the pact, she and the Rarkyn must journey to the heart of the Empire. All that stands in their way are the mountains, the Empire’s soldiers, and Lyss’ uneasy alliance with the Rarkyn. But horrors await them on the road-horrors even Rarkyns fear. The most terrifying monster isn’t the one Lyss travels with. It’s the one that’s awoken inside her. Monsters of a feather flock together.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author Interview: Ngaio Marsh winner Brannavan Gnanalingam

Brannavan Gnanalingam is one of the most accomplished authors working in New Zealand/Aotearoa today. A Wellington lawyer as well as a writer, his past three novels have all been listed for Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His novel, Sprigs, won the 2021 Ngaio Marsh award and was described by Kim Hill as “scarily contemporary and realistic story…an extraordinary piece of writing”.

Gnanalingam’s latest book, Slow Down, You’re Here, is fresh off the press and has already gathered glowing reviews. In brief, the novel revolves around the arrival of an old flame into a dead-end marriage. Filled with unexpected twists and turns which propel the plot forwards; this book is a fast paced, page turning domestic thriller. It’s funny, smart and touching with truly relatable characters. As well as this, the novel is also an exploration of serious moral questions, including issues racism and class. In short, it is a fantastic engaging read.

We are thrilled that Brannavan Gnanalingam took time out from his very busy schedule to discuss his new book, and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to him. For more information visit http://www.lawrenceandgibson.co.nz/

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirinthe arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. It was conducted by host Tanya Ashcroft. You can hear the interview, as well as find a selection of Brannavan Gnanalingam’s work that is available to borrow, below.

 


Slow down you’re here. / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Kavita is stuck in a dead-end marriage. A parent of two small kids, she is the family’s main breadwinner. An old flame unexpectedly offers her a week away in Waiheke. If she were to go, she’s not sure when – or if – she’d come back.”
( Adapted from catalogue)

 

You should have come here when you were not here / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“The intriguing title of this novel by Wellington writer Brannavan Gnanalingam derives from a statement made by Parisians to their Nazi occupiers in World War II when the Germans expressed being underwhelmed by the attractions of the French capital. This postmodern travelogue tells the lonely tale of Veronica, a thirty-something asexual female journalist from New Zealand who travels to Paris late as a freelance journalist only to find the city indifferent to and from her.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.” ( Adapted from Catalogue )

Sodden downstream / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss – if she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Credit in the straight world / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“‘Credit in the straight world’ charts the fortunes of Frank Tolland as he casts off an ignoble birth to become the singular leader of business and community in small-town New Zealand. Told through the eyes of his mute brother, George, this novel is a sharp and satirical account of a small-town finance company, and sweeps through the dramatic economic changes of the 20th and the 21st centuries.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A briefcase, two pies and a penthouse : a novel / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Rachel McManus has just started at the New Zealand Alarm and Response Ministry. One of the few females working there, she is forced to traverse the peculiarities of Wellington bureaucracy, lascivious colleages, and decades of sedimented hierarchy. She has the chance to prove herself by investigating a suspected terrorist, who they fear is radicalising impressionable youth and may carry out an attack on the nation’s capital.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Getting under sail / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Morocco to Ghana. Overland. Three New Zealanders. Armed with a guide book and stereotypes. They go being warned of danger, poverty and war by people who had never been there. They end up embroiled in a civil war – but it wasn’t really anything to do with Africa.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author interview: Christine Leunens

When Christine Leunens’s latest novel In Amber’s Wake was released recently, it shot to the top of the bestselling charts and was buoyed by a raft of rave reviews. The narrative, an astute and powerful study of personal relationships, is set in the 1980’s and is interwoven with dramatic New Zealand historical events: including the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, the Springbok Tour and the mass anti-nuclear movement of the time. It’s a page turning story, a display of deep insights into the way in which the human psyche operates.

Christine’s most recent previous novel, Caging Skies, was adapted into the multi-award winning black comedy film JoJo Rabbit directed by Taika Waititi. In Amber’s Wake has already been optioned for movie adaptation by the team that brought us the movie Thelma and Louise, so when the chance to interview Christine Leunens arose we jumped at it.  You can view this specially created interview below.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Alexandre de Maupeou ,who did the filming and editing. We’d also like to thank Nick Young from The Greenpeace Photo Library and New Zealand National Libraries Archives for permission to use the copyrighted images used in the film. A huge thanks to Christine Leunens herself for her valuable time and this insightful and thoughtful interview.


In Amber’s wake / Leunens, Christine
“Set in New Zealand during the fast-changing, tumultuous 1980s era of the anti-nuclear movement, Springbok rugby tour protests, and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, this romantic drama is as unpredictable as it is powerful and heartfelt. Ethan Grieg, a film student, is in love with his close friend Amber Deering, an environmental activist, who lives at her family’s seemingly picture-perfect stud farm. Amber loves Ethan dearly, but not in the way that Ethan longs for. Instead, the man Amber chooses is widower Stuart Reeds, a charming, refined British investor almost two generations older than her. As a Korean war veteran, Stuart is mentally prepared for the long, subtle war that begins between his young rival and himself for Amber’s heart. When secrets become exposed and nothing is as it seems, each will be cornered into committing acts they could have never predicted. This powerful, gripping story leaves in its wake lingering themes on the complex nature of love, social fabric, international politics, and fundamental notions of right and wrong.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Caging skies / Leunens, Christine
“An avid member of the Hitler Youth in 1940s Vienna, Johannes Betzler discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa behind a false wall in their home. His initial horror turns to interest–then love and obsession. After his parents disappear, Johannes is the only one aware of Elsa’s existence in the house and the only one responsible for her survival. By turns disturbing and blackly comic, haunting and cleverly satirical, Christine Leunens’s captivating and masterful novel–sold in 16 countries and the basis for a major forthcoming film by Taika Waititi ( Thor: Ragnorak, What We Do in the Shadows)–examines this world of truth and lies, laying bare the darkest corners of the human soul.”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Jojo Rabbit
“A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Free Comic Book Day! : Collect a free comic on May 3rd

Free comic book day!
A photo of the free comics we have up for grabs.
Free comics available from all our Branches. ( From Tuesday 3rd  of May onwards)

ComicFest 2022 is just around the corner, which means it’s time for this year’s Free Comic Book Day! To celebrate, we have close to two thousand free comics to give away. All titles are clearly marked as being appropriate for either children or teenagers, and feature some of most popular characters in the comic world universe such as Sonic, Batman and Star Wars. Get a sneak peak via YouTube here!

A photo of our free comicsTo claim your free comic, simply pop into one of our branches from Tuesday the 3rd of May and ask. Supplies are limited and only  available on a first come first basis, so best be quick!

ComicFest will be hosted online on May 7th from 9am-5pm, livestreamed via our YouTube channel. You can bookmark the livestream here.  Our dedicated staff are working flat out to bring you an exciting programme, featuring some of Aotearoa’s finest graphic artists and comic creators. If you would like an email reminder about ComicFest 2022, sign-up for our mailing list here.

View our full programme below: 

 

 

 

The books of Jacob : Recently acquired fiction

New Fiction titles


Sometimes when books are released, you just know from the flurry of publicity surrounding them that they are going to create a big impact. So it is with the much-anticipated latest work from the Polish Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk’s The books of Jacob : or: A fantastic journey across seven borders, five languages, and three major religions, not counting the minor sects, to give it its full title.

For a long time, Polish author Olga Tokarczuk was described as “probably one of the greatest living writers you have never heard of.”. One Nobel Prize and two hugely acclaimed books later, all that has all changed.

Tokarczuk studied clinical psychology and considers herself a disciple of Carl Jung, which she cites as one of her inspirations for her literary work. This influence gives her writing a mythical tone, and many deep insights into human psyche.

Flights, the work that really brought her to international attention, is a patchwork of fiction and essays. A playful and haunting work that explores aspects surrounding being a traveller in a multitude of contexts, such as being a body moving through space and time. It is enchanting, unsettling and also a work from a master storyteller.

Her next book, Drive your plow over the bones of the dead, a noir thriller novel with numerous unexpected delights, for example a a fondness for the poetry of William Blake, is also fantastic.

Tokarczuk’s latest book and magnum opus, The books of Jacob, is not a book for the faint hearted. A deep and intense work running to an epic 912 pages, this historical fiction is about a controversial 18th century polish Jew who claimed to be the messiah. A long time in the making, this novel is the product of extensive research and took seven years just to be translated into English. If you are prepared to put the time into it, it is perhaps one of the most important works of fiction to be published in recent years.

Below is a link to The books of Jacob, along with a selection of other recently acquired fiction titles we are excited by.

The books of Jacob : or: A fantastic journey across seven borders, five languages, and three major religions, not counting the minor sects / Tokarczuk, Olga
“As new ideas – and a new unrest – begin to sweep the Continent, a young Jew of mysterious origins arrives in a village in Poland. Visited by what seem to be ecstatic experiences, Jacob Frank casts a spell that attracts a fervent following. He reinvents himself again and again, converts to Islam, then Catholicism, is pilloried as a heretic, revered as the Messiah, and wreaks havoc on the conventional order, Jewish and Christian alike, with scandalous rumours of his sect’s secret rituals and the spread of his iconoclastic beliefs.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The postmistress of Paris : a novel / Clayton, Meg Waite
“Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure that transcends her Midwestern roots. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, Nanée joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety. Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Beautiful little fools / Cantor, Jillian
“A powerful reimagining of The Great Gatsby from the perspective of the three women whose lives are unravelled by one man’s romantic obsession. On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby. Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Chai time at Cinnamon Gardens / Chandran, Shankari 
“Welcome to Cinnamon Gardens, a home for those who are lost and the stories they treasure. Cinnamon Gardens Nursing Home is nestled in the quiet suburb of Westgrove, Sydney – populated with residents with colourful histories, each with their own secrets, triumphs and failings. This is their safe place, an oasis of familiar delights – a beautiful garden, a busy kitchen and a bountiful recreation schedule. But this ordinary neighbourhood is not without its prejudices. The serenity of Cinnamon Gardens is threatened by malignant forces more interested in what makes this refuge different rather than embracing the calm companionship that makes this place home to so many. “( Adapted from Catalogue)

The paper palace / Cowley Heller, Miranda 
“A story of summer, secrets, love and lies: in the course of a singular day on Cape Cod, one woman must make a life-changing decision that has been brewing for decades. Set against the summer backwoods and beaches of Cape Cod, The Paper Palace unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years, as decades of family legacy, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable childhood tragedy lead wife and mother Elle Bishop to the precipice of a life-changing decision. With its transporting setting and propulsive pace, the story draws on the sweet promise of young love, as well as the heartbreaking damage incurred by too many secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Build your house around my body : a novel / Kupersmith, Violet
“In 1986, the teenage daughter of a wealthy family gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed by the experience. In 2009, pressed into a dangerous scheme by a former lover, a woman captures a rare two-headed cobra. And in 2011, a young, unhappy American living in Saigon with her sort-of boyfriend, disappears without a trace. Over the course of the novel, the fates of these three women will lock together in an exhilarating series of nested narratives. Spanning over fifty years and barreling toward an unforgettable conclusion, this is a fever dream about possessed bodies and possessed lands, a time-traveling, heart-pounding, border-crossing  novel” (Adapted from Catalogue)  Also Available as an eBook.

Cloud cuckoo land : a novel / Doerr, Anthony
“Constantinople, 1453: Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world, and reads it to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Lakeport, Idaho, 2020: Seymour, an activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers… ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Big Library Read: Questlove’s Music is history

Music is History Big Library Read

 

This month’s Big Library Read, Libby’s “global ebook club” , showcases his fourth book called Music is history. In Music is history, Questlove uses his encyclopaedic knowledge of music and history as a lens to examine American history. Specifically, he examines how specific tracks and albums encapsulate certain moments in time in American history over the past fifty years. Questlove is in a truly unique position to tell this history; he’s part of the story and a student of both music and the wider reaches of cultural history. Big Library Read is an opportunity for library users around the world to read the same digital title at the same time. So, from April 4th to April 18th, you can participate in this global ebook club, without any wait lists or holds.

Questlove is one of the most high profile and well-known musician/ producers around. as well as being an author, music journalist, and award-winning  film director. A self-confessed obsessive music crate digger and music historian, over the course of the last thirty years or so he has played a key role in the hip hop and sampling scene. He’s also gone on to produce countless artists, such Amy Winehouse and Al Green to name but two.

In Music is history, Questlove selects tracks from his birth in 1971 to the present day to illustrate how music and American history reflect each other. It is a hugely informative and entertaining work, and the tracks Questlove selects are wide ranging, eclectic and fascinating. They really demonstrate his formidable knowledge. It’s all done in a highly readable and personable style, certainly a must read for music buffs and cultural historians.

To learn more about the Big Library Read, follow this link. You can borrow Music is history via ebook here or audiobook here

To give you a flavour of the book, below is just a tiny selection of the albums containing some of the tracks Questlove uses to illustrate his points.

The head on the door [deluxe] / Cure
“Contents CD1: Inbetween days — Kyoto song — The blood — Six different ways — Push — The baby screams — Close to me — A night like this — Screw — Sinking.CD2 (Rarities 1984-1985): Notes Originally released in 1985 – includes bonus disc.” ( Adapted from Catalogue )

 

It takes a nation of millions to hold us back [3 CD]. / Public Enemy
“It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do. That’s not to say the album is without precedent, since what’s particularly ingenious about the album is how it reconfigures things that came before into a startling, fresh, modern sound. Public Enemy used the template Run-D.M.C. created of a rap crew as a rock band, then brought in elements of free jazz, hard funk, even musique concrète, via their producing team, the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before.  ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Maggot brain. / Funkadelic
“It starts with a crackle of feedback shooting from speaker to speaker and a voice intoning, “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y’all have knocked her up” and talking about rising “above it all or drown in my own sh*t.” This could only have been utterly bizarre back in 1971 and it’s no less so decades later; though the Mothership was well on its way already, Maggot Brain really helped it take off. ~ Ned Raggett” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Parade : music from the motion picture Under the cherry moon / Prince
“Undaunted by the criticism Around the World in a Day received, Prince continued to pursue his psychedelic inclinations on Parade, which also functioned as the soundtrack to his second film, Under the Cherry Moon. Originally conceived as a double album, Parade has the sprawling feel of a double record, even if it clocks in around 45 minutes. — If it had been expanded to a double album, Parade would have equaled the subsequent Sign ‘o’ the Times, but as it stands, it’s an astonishingly rewarding near-miss. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Police. / Police (Musical group)
“To coincide with their 30th anniversary reunion tour in 2007 the Police released the anthology The Police, the first two-CD retrospective ever assembled on the group. They may not have had a double compilation to their credit, but they had single discs and box sets, which may raise the question of whether they need a set like this — and the answer is yes, but this set falls just a bit short of being the definitive Police double disc. At only 28 tracks, this feels a little too slim.  ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Creative quest / Questlove
“Questlove – musician, bandleader, designer, producers, culinary entrepreneur, professor, and all-round cultural omnivore – draws on a life-time experience to offer insights into how to build the best creative life, and how to let the best creative life build you. Questlove has worked with or around hundreds of other artists, and engaged in dialogue with them regarding the creative process, whether in person or from an appreciation of their work: musicians like D’Angelo and Björk, filmmakers like Ava DuVernay and Mike Birbiglia, comedians, chefs, designers, writers, and more.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Mo’ meta blues : the world according to Questlove / Questlove
“Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture.”–Book jacket.” (Catalogue)

 

Soul train : the music, dance, and style of a generation / Questlove
“From Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the award-winning hip-hop group the Roots, comes this vibrant book commemorating the legacy of Soul Train—the cultural phenomenon that launched the careers of artists such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, and Aretha Franklin. Questlove reveals the remarkable story of the captivating program, and his text is paired with more than 350 photographs of the show’s most memorable episodes and the larger-than-life characters who defined it: the great host Don Cornelius, the extraordinary musicians, and the people who lived the phenomenon from dance floor. Gladys Knight contributed a foreword to this incredible volume. Nick Cannon contributed the preface.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The investigator Kosuke Kindaichi mysteries

“Why is it that all men like to lie?”

― Seishi Yokomizo, The Village of Eight Graves

It is widely said in the book world that one of the genres of translated fiction that gains a wide and popular readership worldwide is that of crime and mystery detective novels. It seems that crime novels have a universal appeal.

And in this month’s newly acquired crime and mystery novels we have an excellent example of this, in the form of the The Village of Eight Graves by Seishi Yokomizo. The Village of Eight Graves is the first English translation of the third instalment of the most popular murder mystery series ever in Japan. Originally published in 1949, the investigator Kosuke Kindaichi books were a Japanese smash hit phenomenon and eventually ran to seventy-six titles, spawned numerous television, film and theatre adaptations and sold five million copies of the series in Japan alone. Indeed, many people regard the first book in the series, The Honjin Murders, as the finest Japanese detective novel ever written and now, thanks to its much-delayed translated release, we can find out for ourselves what the excitement was all about. We’ve also included a few other recently acquired crime and mystery novels that caught our attention; for more details read on below.

The village of eight graves / Yokomizo, Seishi
“Nestled deep in the mist-shrouded mountains, The Village of Eight Graves takes its name from a bloody legend: in the Sixteenth Century eight samurais, who had taken refuge there along with a secret treasure, were murdered by the inhabitants, bringing a terrible curse down upon their village. Centuries later a mysterious young man named Tatsuya arrives in town, bringing a spate of deadly poisonings in his wake. The inimitably scruffy and brilliant Kosuke Kindaichi investigates.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder most fancy / McCourt, Kellie
“Home for just 48 hours, billion-heiress Indigo-Daisy-Violet-Amber Hasluck-Royce-Jones-Bombberg has already committed two  felonies, reignited a childhood feud, been (possibly) humiliated (again) by her first love, and fallen over a nameless homeless dead man.  Grandmother’s kindly neighbour, Dame Elizabeth Holly, wants to spring the anonymous corpse from the coroner’s freezer. She’s convinced Indigo and her parolee personal assistant Esmerelda can unearth the man’s identity, thus allowing his burial. Meanwhile Grandmother wants the unlikely duo to locate Dame Holly’s possibly missing gentleman friend… ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Disappearance of a scribe / Stabenow, Dana
“After two Alexandrian fishermen discover a skeleton anchored by a cement weight, Queen Cleopatra charges Tetisheri, her new Eye of Isis, to uncover the identities of the victim and the killers.47 B.C. Two Alexandrian fishermen come across the body of a skeleton floating upright at the bottom of the sea, anchored in place by a cement weight around his feet. In Alexandria’s rough-and-tumble construction trade they call that ‘being fitted with a pair of Rhakotis sandals’ and what’s worse, he is the second such victim in two years. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Darkness falls : a Kate Marshall thriller / Bryndza, Robert
“Kate Marshall’s investigation into a journalist’s disappearance sends her down an unexpectedly twisted path in a riveting thriller by the author of Shadow Sands. Kate Marshall’s fledgling PI agency takes off when she and her partner, Tristan Harper, are hired for their first big case. It’s a cold one. Twelve years before, journalist Joanna Duncan disappeared after exposing a political scandal. Most people have moved on. Joanna’s mother refuses to let go. When Kate and Tristan gain access to the original case files, they revisit the same suspects and follow the same leads–but not to the same dead ends. Among Joanna’s personal effects, Kate discovers the names of two young men who also vanished without a trace.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Jane Austen’s lost letters / Cleland, Jane K
“Antiques appraiser Josie Prescott is in the midst of filming a segment for her new television show. Josie’s Antiques, when the assistant director interrupts to let her know she has a visitor. Veronica Sutton introduces herself as an old friend of Josie’s father, who had died twenty years earlier. Veronica hands Josie a brown paper-wrapped package. Mystified, Josie opens the package, and gasps when she sees what’s inside: a notecard bearing her name–in her father’s handwriting–and a green leather box. Inside the box are two letters in transparent plastic sleeves. The first bears the salutation, “My dear Cassandra,” the latter, “Dearest Fanny.” Both are signed “Jane Austen.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Silent parade / Higashino, Keigo
“A popular young girl disappears without a trace, her skeletal remains discovered three years later in the ashes of a burnt-out house. And this isn’t the first time he’s been suspected of the murder of a young girl: nearly twenty years ago he was tried and released due to lack of evidence. Chief Inspector Kusanagi of the Homicide Division of the Tokyo Police worked both cases.  Chief Inspector Kusanagi turns once again to his college friend, Physics professor and occasional police consultant Manabu Yukawa, known as Detective Galileo, to help solve the string of seemingly impossible murders.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Family business / Rozan, S. J
“The death of Chinatown’s most powerful mogul, a powerful Chinatown crime boss, thrusts private eye Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith into a world of double-dealing, murder, and real estate scandal . Choi has left the Tong headquarters building to his niece, who hires Lydia and her partner, Bill Smith, to accompany her to inspect it. The building is at the center of a tug-of-war between Chinatown preservation interests–including Lydia’s brother Tim–and a real estate developer who’s desperate to get his hands on it. Entering Choi’s private living quarters they find the murdered body of Choi’s chief lieutenant.  Can Lydia and Bill escape being caught in the crossfire?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Easter bonnet murder / Meier, Leslie
“Known for its cheerful staff and elaborate annual Easter Bonnet Contest, the Heritage House senior center regularly attracts new residents and positive press. But once the town’s retired librarian, Miss Julia Tilley, checks in to recover from an illness, Lucy sees a side of the facility that isn’t quite so perfect and pristine. And the place may soon be making headlines for different reasons following an unexplained disappearance . Gathering clues as flimsy as a half-eaten milk chocolate bunny, Lucy must discover what happened to Agnes–before her own story becomes another springtime tragedy left unsolved .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dr Rangi Matamua in conversation about Māori astronomy and star lore


Photo used with the kind permission of ‘The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Secretariat’; all rights reserved.

Dr Rangi Matamua (Tūhoe) is one of Aotearoa’s top science communicators, a professor at the University of Waikato and an expert in the fields of Māori astronomy and star lore, as well as Māori language development, research and revitalisation. Not only is he an expert in these fields but he loves to talk about them and travels extensively throughout the country giving public lectures about Matariki and Māori astronomy.

Dr Matamua received the Prime Minister’s Science Prize and won the 2020 Callaghan Medal, as well as being awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Society Te Apārangi in recognition that his work “has revolutionised understandings of Māori astronomy, and in particular Matariki”.

Dr Matamua has been critical of the way Western scientific astronomy  belittles or ignores traditional Māori knowledge. One of his future plans to address this imbalance is to create a Māori observatory, based on a traditional observatory but also using modern technology and knowledge. He is also the author of several excellent books on these subjects.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM and was conducted by host Tanya Ashcroft.

We are thrilled that Dr Matamua took time out from his very busy schedule to talk to us about his new book, his career, and loads of other fascinating scientific topics, and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to him. For more information visit https://livingbythestars.co.nz/.

Dr Matamua’s books are available to borrow from the library; see details below.

Matariki : te whetū tapu o te tau / Matamua, Rangi
“In midwinter, Matariki rises in the pre-dawn sky, and its observation is celebrated with incantations on hilltops at dawn, balls, exhibitions, dinners and a vast number of events. The Matariki tradition has been re-established, and its regeneration coincides with a growing interest in Māori astronomy. Still, there remain some unanswered questions about how Matariki was traditionally observed. What is Matariki? Why did Māori observe Matariki? How did Māori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how should Matariki be celebrated? This book seeks answers to these questions and explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense so it can be understood and celebrated in our modern society.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Matariki : the star of the year / Matamua, Rangi
“In midwinter, Matariki rises in the pre-dawn sky, and its observation is celebrated with incantations on hilltops at dawn, balls, exhibitions, dinners and a vast number of events. The Matariki tradition has been re-established, and its regeneration coincides with a growing interest in Māori astronomy. Still, there remain some unanswered questions about how Matariki was traditionally observed. These include: What is Matariki? Why did Māori observe Matariki? How did Māori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how should Matariki be celebrated? There has been a resurgence of interest in and celebration of Matariki, and this book provides accessible information about its meaning and significance, how to locate Matariki and when, traditional customs and knowledge regarding Matariki and current-day practices”( Adapted from Catalogue)

Ngā kete mātauranga : Māori scholars at the research interface
“In this beautiful and transformative book, 24 Maori academics share their personal journeys, revealing what being Māori has meant for them in their work. Their perspectives provide insight for all New Zealanders into how mātauranga is positively influencing the Western-dominated disciplines of knowledge in the research sector. It is a shameful fact, says co-editor Jacinta Ruru in her introduction to Ngā Kete Mātauranga, that in 2020, only about 5 percent of academic staff at universities in Aotearoa New Zealand are Māori. Tertiary institutions have for the most part been hostile places for Indigenous students and staff, and this book is an important call for action. ‘It is well past time that our country seriously commits to decolonising the tertiary workforce, curriculum and research agenda,’ writes Professor Ruru.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author Interview: Poet, novelist & short story writer Maggie Rainey-Smith

Amongst many other things Maggie Rainey-Smith is a poet, novelist, and short story writer. And just recently Maggie released her latest collection of poetry called Formica.

Formica is an honest and humorous collection of poems written in an unsentimental fashion that both speaks of Maggie herself and her individual history but also the wider issues that envelope individual lives. The poems in the collection are rooted in the 1950s, avoiding the pitfalls of nostalgia, the poems instead give the reader a more precise and unsentimental look at life.

The collection moves from youth to warrior crone and also pays homage to love in its various forms.

Maggie uses as her raw material the lives of all women of her generation –  “lives too often defined by their fertility and kitchen appliances when there was fun and fulfilment to be had elsewhere. Not that Maggie doesn’t adore her Kenwood mixer, but it lines up with abiding friendships, granddaughters, travel, sex and the joy of words.”

She is a remarkable talent and when the opportunity to interview her about Formica arose, we leapt at it. This interview with  was done in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM and was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host, Tanya Ashcroft. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Maggie took time out from her very busy schedule to talk to us about Formica, her life, and her writing career. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks.

Content warning: interview includes adult themes

Maggie’s books are available to borrow from the library.

About turns: a novel / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Irene has a secret. It slips out inadvertently during book club when the wine has been flowing too freely. Her teenage years as a marching girl are not something she had wanted her friend Ferrida to know about. She’s always wanted Ferrida’s approval, for her friendship is as important and fraught as the one with Paula, when they marched together all those years ago. But friends don’t necessarily march to the same beat, and Irene finds it hard to keep step. ABOUT TURNS, with its humorous insights into New Zealand women and their allegiances, will have you and your friends laughing in unison.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Turbulence / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Adam is fortyish, coasting along and relatively content while his glamorous partner, Louise, takes centre stage. But half a lifetime ago, his aspirations were higher and he was certain about the future he’d share with Judy. When an unexpected invitation arrives, uncomfortable truths resurface and the secrets of the past spill out. How will Adam manage to attend a reunion in the company of both Louise and Judy – not to mention stepfatherhood and a state of siege at work? ” (Catalogue)

Daughters of Messene / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Your history, Artemis, is full of female warriors.” Artemis has the name of a goddess, but she has trouble living up to it. Instead she usually just runs away. She’s running now … away from the married man she’s been seeing, and the Greek community in New Zealand who think they know what’s best, and into the arms of family in the Peloponnese that she’s never met. She carries her mother’s ashes and an ipod with recordings, which bit by bit tell the shocking story of what happened to Artemis’ grandmother during the Greek Civil War.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author interview: Physicist and science writer Laurie Winkless

Image of the Laurie Winkless with her new book Sticky.


Laurie Winkless is a physicist and science writer. She has contributed to Forbes Magazine and worked with both the Royal Society and The Naked Scientists. She has a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics from Trinity College Dublin, has worked at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre and has done some impressive mahi with the Materials Team at the National Physical Laboratory, focussing on thermoelectric energy harvesting!  She has also researched the use of nanomaterials in the space industry for the European Space Agency.

Her first book, Science, and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis, explains the science behind aspects of urban living, including skyscrapers and subways. She recently took some time out from her busy schedule to talk to us about her latest book, Sticky, which is an exploration of the amazing world of surface science.

This interview with Laurie Winkless was done in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Winkless took time out from her very busy schedule to talk to us about her new book, her career, and loads of other fascinating scientific topics. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to her.

 For more information on Laurie, visit https://www.lauriewinkless.com/

 And for more information on her new book Sticky, visit HERE. 

Both of Laurie’s books are available to borrow from the library.

 

Sticky: The Secret Science Of Surfaces / Winkless, Laurie
“In Sticky, physicist Laurie Winkless brings the amazing world of surface science to the popular science market. Using her characteristic fun and relaxed tone, she introduces us to the glues, adhesives and textures that rule and improve stickiness to give plants and animals an advantage, as well as uncovering the physics behind our sense of touch.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Science and the city : the mechanics behind the metropolis / Winkless, Laurie
“A window into the hidden science and engineering that are the backbone and lifeblood of the city, now and in the future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Interview: Legendary musician David Long

Photo of David Long against a light yellow circle and his latest album art.


David Long is a legend in the New Zealand music scene. He started his musical career performing in the Braille Collective, in bands such as Six Volts and Jungle, and was a founding member of The Mutton Birds with Don McGlashan. These days, Long can be found working in a very wide spectrum of musical activities.

Long did compositional music for contemporary dance pieces working extensively with choreographer Douglas Wright. He works on the musical, soundscape side for a whole host of television and film projects; he has worked with Peter Jackson and has played some part in every one of his film for the last twenty years, including Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Long even worked with Brian Eno on the soundtrack to The Lovely Bones.

He also does a lot of production work, having produced many of New Zealand’s finest musicians and ,recently, doing production work for the recently formed Oro record label.

Long has worked on a wide range of collaborative projects, such as with Richard Nunn and Natalia Mann on the album Utterance. He has also just released a new work of his own, titled Ash and Bone. He has also won several silver scroll APRA awards, amongst many other musical accolades. Basically, in musical terms , Long has excelled at everything and so when we got the chance to interview him, we jumped at it.

Coming soon, we have an exclusive filmed interview with Long where we talk all things musical. For now, to whet your appetite, we recently had the pleasure of interviewing Long in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin on Radioactive FM about his new album, Ash and Bone, and various other aspects of his career. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Long has taken time out from his very busy schedule to talk to us about his new release, his career, and all things musical. We extend our heartfelt thanks. Keep an eye out for our filmed interview coming soon!

For more information on David, visit https://www.davidlongnz.com/

And for more information on Rattle records, visit https://rattle.co.nz/


Envy of angels [1 CD] / Mutton Birds
“Envy of Angels could have been recorded ten years earlier considering its invocation of the new south — in particular the moodiness of Dumptruck — not to mention similarities to more commercial guitar rock of the same period […] Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that Hugh Jones, who also worked with Dumptruck, produced Envy of Angels. He renders the Mutton Birds’ guitar strum and jangle in more solemn than bright tones, which suits the sometimes poetic lyrics and unusual chord progressions. ~ Greg Adams” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Ash and bone. / Long, David
“Musicians David Long, synthesisers, banjo, electronics, electric guitar ; Carolyn Mills, harp ; Andrew Jarvis, tuba ; Mark Carter, trumpet ; Rachel Vernon, bass clarinet ; Pat Barry, clarinet ; Bridget Douglas, flute ; Riki Gooch, percussion, electronics. Contents Underground — Ash and bone — I follow it — You want to fight everything — The long long walk — A second glance — Wash your mouth out — Water the earth.” ( Adapted from Catalogue.) 

Utterance / Long, David
“Musicians …David Long, banjo, theremin, bowed guitar ; Richard Nunns, taonga pūoro ; Natalia Mann, harp, prepared harp, zither, gongs, voice. Tracks Perilous knowledge — Old shadows — Spider shell — Upper circle, lower case — Celestial dog — Mercury — The nearest clear liquid — We died once — City of green — Hidden cameras — Begin again.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

Flock : the best of The Mutton Birds / Mutton Birds

” Other Title Best of The Mutton Birds. Contents …Dominion Road — Nature — The heater — A thing well made — White Valiant — In my room — Anchor me — Wellington — Queen’s English — Don’t fear the reaper — While you sleep — She’s been talking — Come around — Envy of angels — As close as this — Last year’s shoes — Pulled along by love — Not to take sides.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The Mutton Birds. / Mutton Birds
Dominion Road (3:55) — Your window (4:39) — A thing well made (4:39) — She’s like a city (3:56) — Before the breakthrough (4:52) — White Valiant (5:12) — Giant friend (3:15) — Big fish (4:33) — No plans for later (2:31) — Nature (3:39).” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

 

Salty / Mutton Birds
The heater — Ngaire — You will return — Wellington — In my room — When the wind comes round — Queen’s English — Salty my dear — There’s a limit — Esther — No telling when — Anchor me — Too close to the sun — Don’t fight it, Marsha, it’s bigger than both of us. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

 

 

WCL interview: Acclaimed artist Robèrt Franken

Portrait of Robèrt Franken in a studio with his painting.

Wellington artist Robèrt Franken was born in 1946 in The Hague, into a family with a long and rich artistic heritage. He grew up in the studios of Mesdag, connected with the Panorama Mesdag Museum, and is a sixth-generation artist.

Franken has lived in the Wellington region since the late 1960’s. Robèrt Franken and his work have travelled extensively, with exhibitions in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China over many years. His works are also held in numerous national and international collections, including Wellington’s very own Te Papa.

“The Messenger” © Robèrt Franken

Franken works in a wide variety of mediums, such as glass engraving, ceramics, mosaic and oils. He was responsible for the sparklingly, colourful mosaics at the bottom of shallow ponds between the old Town Hall and the Michael Fowler Centre. His works have been described as Surrealist, but Franken walks to much an individual path to be pigeonholed so easily.

“Into the day” © Robèrt Franken

To illustrate this point, here are a couple of quotes from Franken which clearly demonstrate his unwavering commitment to following his own unique artistic path. “As an artist, one tries to invent a language for which I have no words.” and “Perhaps the true measure of an artist is their ability to see things differently, to redefine reality.”

We are thrilled to be interviewing Franken about his practice and, in particular, his new show Reflections in a pond which just opened at the PATAKA Art + Museum in Porirua. Reflections in a pond runs until the 20th of March. If you can’t make it out to Porirua, Franken regularly exhibits at the  Walrus gallery in Wellington.

Follow this link for details of Reflections in a pond at PATAKA Art + Museum, and here for details about the Walrus gallery.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that you can watch our interview with Robèrt Franken below! Or, if you are more a podcast fan, there is also a podcast version of the interview. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Robèrt Franken for his time and giving us such a fabulous interview.

Franken: “My special thanks to Jonathan and Alice Milne for being my sponsor over the past 25 years as Artist in Residence at the Learning Connextion, and to Michelle Homer at Walrus Gallery for my Framing and hanging my works.”

All photographs used in the video and displayed above are © Robèrt Franken (All rights reserved).



10.98 seconds of Wellington artists / Maschmeyer, Lennart
“Wellington, like any other place, is made unique by its people. And Wellington is made a unique place especially by its community of artists. Inside these pages are photographs of musicians on stage or painters at work, capturing both their artistic and private sides. Altogether, the amount of time captured by photographs in this book adds up to just over ten seconds, as is the title. “…an intelligent, empathetic and unique record of the contemporary artistic community within the Wellington region.” -Avenal McKinnon (Director New Zealand Portrait Gallery)” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“None of us can change the things we’ve done”: New Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Expanse GIF by Amazon Prime Video

Gif via Giphy.

“None of us can change the things we’ve done. But we can all change what we do next.” – Fred Johnson

One of the most successful and acclaimed science fiction series in recent years has been The Expanse series, written jointly by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck who collectively call themselves S. A. Corey. Both the novels and television series have been heaped with accolades. And in this month’s newly acquired science fiction and fantasy we have The Leviathan Falls; the much anticipated ninth and final instalment of the series. (There are also nine short stories and novellas to accompany the series.)

The Expanse universe started life as an idea by Ty Franck for a massive multiplayer online role-playing game and then a table top role-playing game, before it morphed at Daniel Abraham’s suggestion into its present fiction and television forms.

The authors are on record as saying they were inspired in some small ways by Alfred Bester’s The Stars My destination, Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, and Ridley Scott’s Alien, though the whole series is its own unique, complex, and fabulous imagined universe which, incidentally, won the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Series. The Expanse is widely regarded as one of the finest science fiction series in recent years and comes highly recommended. ( And you can borrow both the books and the series from us; see below for details).

Also of note in this month’s selection is Sinopticon: a celebration of Chinese science fiction; yet another reminder of how strong science fiction and fantasy writing is in that country at the moment.

Leviathan falls / Corey, James S. A
“The Laconian Empire has fallen, setting the thirteen hundred solar systems free from the rule of Winston Duarte. But the ancient enemy that killed the gate builders is awake, and the war against our universe has begun again. In the dead system of Adro, Elvi Okoye leads a desperate scientific mission to understand what the gate builders were and what destroyed them, even if it means compromising herself and the half-alien children who bear the weight of her investigation. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) For the availability of  The expanse. Seasons one, two and three are also available.

1637 : Dr. Gribbleflotz and the soul of Stoner / Offord, Kerryn
“Thomas “the Great Stoner” Stone once performed miraculous surgery upon Phillip Theophrastus Gribbleflotz, the World’s Greatest Alchemist, using his bare hands, no anesthesia, producing no pain, and leaving no scar. It would have been wonderful if it was real. But Dr. Tom Stone, the face of modern medicine, has been engaging in fake treatments-bringing all modern medicine into question. Phillip, who has learned a thing or two about actual science from those uptime elopers from Grantville, West Virginia, decides to go to Padua and turn his problems into Tom Stone’s problems.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This broken world / Gannon, Charles E
“Since boyhood, Druadaen expected he’d ascend to the command of an elite legion and become the leader his father predicted he would be. However, fate had something different in store. Assigned instead to a small group of outriders tasked with watching nearby kingdoms, Druadaen discovers that the world beyond his homeland is riddled with impossibilities. How do humanoid raiders, known as the Bent, suffer staggering losses and yet return as a vast horde every decade? How do multi-ton dragons fly? How have fossils formed in a world which sacrists insist has existed for only ten millennia? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The god of lost words / Hackwith, A. J
“To save the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, former librarian Claire and her allies may have to destroy it first. Claire, the rakish Hero, the angel Rami, and the muse turned librarian Brevity have accomplished the impossible by discovering the true nature of unwritten books. But now that the secret is out, Hell will be coming for every wing of the library in its quest for power. To protect the Unwritten Wing and stave off the insidious reach of Malphas, one of Hell’s most bloodthirsty generals, Claire and her friends will have to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their vulnerable corner of the afterlife. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The untold story / Cogman, Genevieve
“Time-traveling Librarian spy Irene has faced unimaginable challenges across a multitude of worlds, but to keep her friends safe, Irene will have to do what has never been attempted and cut through the tangled web of power at the heart of the Library. Irene is trying to learn the truth about Alberich-and the possibility that he is her father. When the Library orders her to kill him, and then Alberich himself offers to sign a truce, she has to discover why he originally betrayed the Library. With her allies endangered and her strongest loyalties under threat, she will have to trace his past across multiple worlds and into the depths of mythology and folklore, to find the truth and uncover why the Library was first created” (Adapted from Catalogue)

You feel it just below the ribs : a novel / Cranor, Jeffrey
“Born at the end of the old world, Miriam grows up during The Great Reckoning, a sprawling, decades-long war that nearly decimates humanity and strips her of friends and family. Devastated by grief and loneliness, she emotionally exiles herself, avoiding relationships or allegiances, and throws herself into her work — disengagement that serves her when the war finally ends, and The New Society arises. To ensure a lasting peace, The New Society forbids anything that may cause tribal loyalties, including traditional families. Suddenly, everyone must live as Miriam has chosen to — disconnected and unattached…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Constance / FitzSimmons, Matthew
“In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying. After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness–stored for that inevitable transition–something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her? The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sinopticon : a celebration of Chinese science fiction
“Presents a collection of the best Chinese science fiction stories from thirteen writers, translated into English for the first time. Including  Last save by Gu Shi, Tombs of the universe by Han Song,  Qiankun and Alex by Hao Jingfang, Cat’s chance in hell by Nian Yu, Return of Adam by Wang Jinkang, Rendevous: 1937 by  Zhao Haihong, Heart of the museum by Tang Fei,  Great migration by Ma Boyong, Meisje met de parel by Anna Wu,  Flower of the other shore by  A Que, Absolution experiment by Bao Shu, Tide of moon city by Regina Kanyu Wang and Starship: library by Jiang Bo.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Still and untroubled: New crime and mystery titles

A selection of book covers from our recent booklist

A selection from our new mystery picks

I am, as it is bliss to be, Still and untroubled.

― Charlotte Brontë,


There’s a whole sub-genre of crime and detective fiction which stars real life historical characters as the investigating detectives. Just a few of these historical characters, turned fictional detectives, include Oscar Wilde, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and Agatha Christie.  There’s even a Barrack Obama and Joe Biden mystery series, where the current and former American presidents form the sleuthing duo. One particularly unlikely, fictionalised team that I particularly like is the Raymond Chandler and Boris Karloff team up, found in Kim Newman’s Something More than Night. In this month’s newly acquired crime and mystery titles, we can add The Bronte sisters to these illustrious ranks.

In The Red Monarch, literature’s most famous siblings are also amateur detectives. The tale is set around the time of their self-published collection Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, where the sisters adopted male names as they thought it would help sales and avoid gender prejudice. The collection was published at their own expense, and sadly sold exactly two copies. In The Red Monarch, the sisters are also battling against a slum dwelling criminal gang.

Other highlights from the below list include a tale that takes us on the Trans-Siberian Express, a police transcriber and a mystery set on a cocoa plantation in Ecuador.

The red monarch / Ellis, Bella
“The Bronte sisters’ first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her friend Lydia Robinson. Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. . She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry’s life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Death on the Trans-Siberian Express / Farrington, C. J.
“Olga Pushkin, Railway Engineer (Third Class) and would-be bestselling author, spends her days in a little rail-side hut with only Dmitri the hedgehog for company.  And one day Olga arrives at her hut only to be knocked unconscious by a man falling from the Trans-Siberian, an American tourist with his throat cut from ear to ear and his mouth stuffed with 10-ruble coins. Another death soon follows. But with no leads to follow and time running out, has Olga bitten off more than she can chew?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bryant & May : London Bridge is falling down / Fowler, Christopher
“When 91-year-old Amelia Hoffman died in her top-floor flat on a busy London road, : she slipped through the cracks in a failing system. But detectives Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit have their doubts. Bryant is convinced that other forgotten women with hidden talents are also in danger. And, curiously, they all own models of London Bridge. With the help of some of their more certifiable informants, the detectives follow the strangest of clues in an investigation that will lead them through forgotten alleyways to the city’s oldest bridge in search of a desperate killer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A question of guilt / Horst, Jørn Lier
“In 1999, seventeen-year-old Tone Vaterland was killed on her way home from work. Desperate for a conviction the police deemed the investigation an open-and-shut case and sent her spurned boyfriend, Danny Momrak, down for murder. But twenty years later William Wisting receives a puzzling letter. It suggests the wrong man was convicted for Tone’s death and the real murderer is still out there. Wisting is quickly thrown into a terrifying race against time where he must find the sender, decipher this mysterious letter and catch the real killer before they strike again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Spanish daughter / Hughes, Lorena
“Inheriting a cocoa plantation in Vinces, Ecuador, that someone will kill for, Puri, after her husband is murdered, assumes his identity to search for the truth of her father’s legacy and learn the identity of the enemy who stands in her way of claiming her birthright.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Mrs. Rochester’s ghost : a thriller / Marcott, Lindsay
“Jane has lost everything: job, mother, relationships, even her home. A friend calls to offer an unusual deal–a cottage above the crashing surf of Big Sur on the estate of his employer, Evan Rochester. In return, Jane will tutor his teenage daughter. She accepts. But nothing is quite as it seems at the Rochester estate. Though he’s been accused of murdering his glamorous and troubled wife, Evan Rochester insists she drowned herself. Jane is skeptical, but she still finds herself falling for the brilliant and secretive entrepreneur and growing close to his daughter…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shadows of men : a novel / Mukherjee, Abir
“Calcutta, 1923. When a Hindu theologian is found murdered in his home, the city is on the brink of all-out religious war. Can the officers of the Imperial Police Force–Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant “Surrender-Not” Banerjee–track down those responsible in time to stop a bloodbath? Set at a time of heightened political tension, beginning in atmospheric Calcutta and taking the detectives all the way to bustling Bombay, the latest instalment in this remarkable series presents Wyndham and Banerjee with an unprecedented challenge. Will this be the case that finally drives them apart?” (Catalogue)

Hello, transcriber / Morrissey, Hannah
“Every night, while the street lamps shed the only light on Wisconsin’s most crime-ridden city, police transcriber Hazel Greenlee listens as detectives divulge Black Harbor’s gruesome secrets. As an aspiring writer, Hazel believes that writing a novel could be her only ticket out of this frozen hellscape. And then her neighbor confesses to hiding the body of an overdose victim in a dumpster. The suspicious death is linked to Candy Man, a notorious drug dealer. Now Hazel has a first row seat to the investigation and becomes captivated by the lead detective…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

“I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse… Our New Fiction Titles

“I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse… I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.” – Leonora Carrington.

If you were lucky enough to go to the recent exceptional Surrealist exhibition at Te Papa, you may well have looked in wonder at Again the Gemini are in the Orchard, a painting by Leonora Carrington. In our recently acquired fiction titles we have a fictionalised account of one of the periods of her life called Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter.
Leonora Carrington was one of the leading lights of the surrealist movement, whose contribution and involvement until recently was largely ignored. She led an extraordinary, remarkable, and fascinating life. (View all our  books by or about Leonora Carrington here).

Born into a rich but constricted English family, against which she rebelled at every chance, after being expelled from various schools, she attended art school before eventually fleeing the country to go to Paris to join the Surrealists. She subsequently formed an artistic and personal relationship with the artist Max Ernst. This period was interrupted by World War Two; Ernst was arrested by the Nazis from which Leonora fled, ending up in a Spanish asylum. She was rescued from this asylum by her former nanny. Entering a marriage of convenience with the Mexican Ambassador allowed her to emigrate to Mexico. In Mexico City she when on to forge a career as one of the most important, innovative, and personally unique of all the Surrealists. She was also a highly accomplished writer of fiction, short fiction and autobiography.

Another title we were excited to see in the newly acquired recent fiction titles is the hugely recommended Huia short stories 14: Contemporary Māori fiction.

Leonora in the morning light / Carter, Michaela
“1937. British socialite and painter Leonora Carrington meets Max Ernst, an older, married artist whose work has captivated Europe. She follows him to Paris, and gains recognition under her own name. When Max and his circle are denounced as “degenerates” and arrested, Leonora battles terrifying circumstances to survive. 1940. A train carrying exiled German prisoners from a labor camp arrives in southern France, but face capture by the Nazis. Only one man does not flee, determined to ride the train until he reaches home, to find a woman he refers to simply as “her.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The echo chamber / Boyne, John
“What a thing of wonder a mobile phone is. Six ounces of metal, glass and plastic, fashioned into a sleek, shiny, precious object. At once, a gateway to other worlds – and a treacherous weapon in the hands of the unwary, the unwitting, the inept. The Cleverley family live a gilded life, little realising how precarious their privilege is, just one tweet away from disaster. George, the patriarch, is a stalwart of television interviewing, a ‘national treasure’ (his words), his wife Beverley, a celebrated novelist (although not as celebrated as she would like), and their children, Nelson, Elizabeth, Achilles, various degrees of catastrophe waiting to happen.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

What storm, what thunder / Chancy, Myriam J. A.
“At the end of a long, sweltering day, as markets and businesses begin to close for the evening, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude shakes the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Richard, an expat and wealthy water-bottling executive with a secret daughter; the daughter, Anne, an architect , Leopold, who pines for a beautiful call girl; Sonia and Ma Lou, the old woman selling produce in the market who remembers them all. Artfully weaving together these lives, witness is given to the desolation wreaked by nature and by man. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The sentence / Erdrich, Louise
“A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading with murderous attention, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hana Khan carries on / Jalaluddin, Uzma
“Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast. Soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening her mother’s restaurant. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The cat who saved books : a novel / Natsukawa, Sōsuke
“Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the second hand bookstore he has inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. However, one day, a talking cat named Tiger appears and asks Rintaro to save books with him. Of course, “ask” is putting it politely — Tiger is demanding Rintaro’s help. The world is full of lonely books, left unread and unloved, and only Tiger and Rintaro can liberate them from their neglectful owners. And so, the odd couple begin an amazing journey, entering different mazes to set books free.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dog park / Oksanen, Sofi 
“Helsinki, 2016. Olenka sits on a bench, watching a family play in a dog park. A stranger sits down beside her. Olenka startles; she would recognize this other woman anywhere. After all, Olenka was the one who ruined her life. And this woman may be about to do the same to Olenka. Yet, for a fragile moment, here they are, together–looking at their own children being raised by other people. Moving seamlessly between modern-day Finland and Ukraine in the early days of its post-Soviet independence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Comfort me with apples / Valente, Catherynne M.
“A woman who believes she is living a perfect life begins to wonder why her husband is away at work so much, and also what is in the locked basement she is not permitted to enter.Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect. It’s just that he is away so much, so often. He says he misses her, so it must be true. But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook .

Huia short stories. 14, Contemporary Māori fiction.
“These stories present the best writing from the Pikihuia Awards for Māori writers 2021. The authors are a mix of new writers and known authors. The stories they tell have characters that will stay with you, descriptions that evoke strong sense of time and place, and situations that are funny, tense, sad and wistful.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Announced: the longlist for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction

The longlist for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction (the fiction element of The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards)  has just been announced.  And as always it reflects the rich, diverse, and vibrant literary scene in New Zealand. In this blog we are going to take a very quick look at the ten fiction contenders, but we strongly recommend a close look at the equally excellent Non-Fiction categories.

In the longlist this year we have…

Gigi Fenster’s A Good Winter; a gripping dark and, in some respects, demanding thriller set in an apartment block among a group of women. The novel was initially abandoned by the author who said “The lead character took over the work in not-so-good ways.’ Gigi eventually submitted it to and won the Michael Gifkins prize. Aljce in Therapy Land by Alice Tawhai is the debut novel from the acclaimed short story writer. Online relationships, stoned characters and logic, workplace bullying, quantum physics all overlayed with aspects of Alice in Wonderland in this smart, funny, and complex work.  Entanglement by Bryan Walpert is a multi-layered, multi-faceted work that weaves big ideas about the nature of existence and time into the integral fabric of the plot, whilst also being very personal about the characters’ inner lives. In Stephanie Johnson’s Everything Changes the central characters buy a rundown motel as a way of restarting their lives in this moving and funny work. A brother and sister from a Māori-Russian-Catalonian family negotiate the stormy waters of modern romance, largely from the Auckland apartment they share, in Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly, described by one reviewer as “part Shakespeare, part Wes Anderson”.

In Whiti Hereaka’s Kurangaituku a part bird, part woman central character “the Kurangaituku” retells her life from her inception till her death and beyond. This mythological tale is about love, in both its destructive and creative aspects. Sue Orr’s Loop Tracks is set in two time periods; the late 1970’s in Auckland and 2019 in Wellington, and centres around young sixteen-year-old Charlie’s choices and decisions in 1978, and how they flow into her 2019 future.  She’s a Killer by Kirsten McDougall is set in the very near future in New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society in this sharp and darkly funny work. Confidence tricksters, compulsive liars and jumbled up childhood memories all feature in Emma Neale’s excellent first collection of short stories Pink Jumpsuit: short fictions, tall truths. And to round up the list is Clare Moleta’s Unsheltered; a powerful tale of a woman’s search for her daughter set against a background of destructive weather and social disintegration.

As always there are several novels that might have made the cut but didn’t,  the most notable being  Jacqueline Bublitz’s wonderful Before You Knew My Name.

We have also had the recent pleasure of having Kirsten McDougall in conversation with Rajorshi Chakraborti and interviewing Bryan Walpert  about their nominated books; you can watch these interviews at the end of this blog.

A good winter. / Fenster, Gigi
“I looked after Lara. We both looked after Sophie and her baby. We had to. It’s not like Sophie was going to look after that baby herself. All she was interested in was weeping and wailing for her dead husband. She was so busy weeping and wailing for her dead husband that she rejected his baby who was right in front of her. When Olga’s friend Lara becomes a grandmother, Olga helps out whenever she can. After all, it’s a big imposition on Lara, looking after her bereaved daughter and the baby. And the new mother is not exactly considerate. But smoldering beneath Olga’s sensible support and loving generosity is a deep jealous need to be the centre of Lara’s attention and affection—a need that soon becomes a consuming, dangerous and ultimately tragic obsession.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Aljce in therapy land / Tawhai, Alice
“On her first day the sky had a salmon tint to it; after the rain, and before the cloud entirely cleared, as if it had been put into a washing machine with roses. Someone was probably really annoyed at the way they had run. Aljce parked in the asphalt car park outside the Therapy Hub. She was looking forward to her new job. It would be an exciting adventure with new challenges.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Entanglement / Walpert, Bryan
“A memory-impaired time traveller attempts to correct a tragic mistake he made in 1977 when, panicked, he abandoned his brother on a frozen lake in Baltimore. Decades later, in 2011, a novelist researching at the Centre for Time in Sydney becomes romantically involved with a philosopher from New Zealand. Another eight years on, and a writer at a lake retreat in New Zealand in 2019 obsesses over the disintegration of his marriage following another tragedy. Are these separate stories, or are they one? Is the time traveller actually travelling? Can the past be changed? As the answers to these questions slowly emerge, the three tales become entangled, along with the usual abstractions: love, desperation and physics.” (Catalogue)

Everything changes / Johnson, Stephanie
Buying a rundown motel to start a new life — what could possibly go wrong? In this funny and moving novel, prize-winning author Stephanie Johnson turns her wry eye on us. ‘What a fabulous read. Stephanie Johnson’s characters choose an old motel with little to offer except an amazing view in order to start a ‘new life’. Their first guests are a classic cast of the sorrowful and dysfunctional that every-day life throws at us these days.  This is her best book ever, and I loved every page of it.’ – Fiona Kidman” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Greta & Valdin / Reilly, Rebecca K
“Valdin is still in love with his ex-boyfriend Xabi, who used to drive around Auckland in a ute but now drives around Buenos Aires in one. Greta is in love with her fellow English tutor Holly, who doesn’t know how to pronounce Greta’s surname, Vladislavljevic, properly. From their Auckland apartment, brother and sister must navigate the intricate paths of modern romance as well as weather the small storms of their eccentric Māori-Russian-Catalonian family” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Kurangaituku / Hereaka, Whiti
“In the void of time, Kurangaituku, the bird-woman, tells the story of her extraordinary Life – the birds who first sang her into being, the arrival of the Song Makers and the change they brought to her world, her life with the young man Hatupatu, and her death. But death does not end a creature of imagination like Kurangaituku. In the underworlds of Rarohenga, she continues to live in the many stories she collects as she pursues what eluded her in life. This is a story of love – but is this love something that creates or destroys?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Loop tracks / Orr, Sue
“It’s 1978: the Auckland abortion clinic has been forced to close and sixteen-year-old Charlie has to fly to Sydney, but the plane is delayed on the tarmac. It’s 2019: Charlie’s tightly contained Wellington life with her grandson Tommy is interrupted by the unexpected intrusions of Tommy’s first girlfriend, Jenna, and the father he has never known, Jim. The year turns, and everything changes again… written in real time against the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic and the New Zealand General Election and euthanasia referendum” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She’s a killer / McDougall, Kirsten
“The world’s climate is in crisis and New Zealand is being divided and reshaped by privileged immigrant wealthugees. Thirty-something Alice has a near-genius IQ and lives at home with her mother with whom she communicates by Morse code. Alice’s imaginary friend, Simp, has shown up, with a running commentary on her failings. ‘I mean, can you even calculate the square root of 762 anymore?’ The last time Simp was here was when Alice was seven, on the night a fire burned down the family home. Now Simp seems to be plotting something. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pink jumpsuit : short fictions, tall truths / Neale, Emma
“In Emma Neale’s first collection of short fiction, the tales range from the surreal to the real; from the true to the tall. This collection includes some of her internationally recognised flash fiction and more extended examinations of the eerie gaps and odd swerves in intimate relationships. There are confidence tricksters, compulsive liars, emotional turn-coats, the pulse of jumbled childhood memory still felt in adult life, the weird metamorphosis of fantasy hardening into reality…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Unsheltered / Moleta, Clare
“Against a background of social breakdown and destructive weather, Unsheltered tells the story of a woman’s search for her daughter. Li never wanted to bring a child into a world like this but now that eight-year-old Matti is missing, she will stop at nothing to find her. As she crosses the great barren country alone and on foot, living on what she can find and fuelled by visions of her daughter just out of sight ahead, Li will have every instinct tested. She knows the odds against her: an uncompromising landscape, an uncaring system, time running out, and the risks of any encounters on the road. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Interview with Portico Prize winning author Sally J Morgan

Sally J Morgan - Toto

Debut novel Toto Among the Murderers by Sally J Morgan, is a dark, compelling, and immersive work that recently won the Portico Prize for Literature — a British prize given to a work that evokes the “spirit of the North of England”. The book was also longlisted for the 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction.

We were thrilled when Sally agreed to talk to us about ‘Toto Among the Murderers’ and what it feels like to win one of the big fiction prizes! She even gave us an exclusive sneak peek into her thoughts about her new book, still at the writing stage. Have a listen and read more about Sally below…

Please note: this interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, an arts and entertainment review show on RadioActive FM. The interview was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host, Tanya Ashcroft.

Sally J Morgan was born in the Welsh mining town of Abertyleri and describes her childhood as nomadic — following her father’s career in the motor trade across Britain. Sally graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and eventually moved to New Zealand where she is now a professor at Massey University in Wellington.

As a young woman she was once offered a lift by the serial killers Fred and Rose West. Sally declined, but that experience planted the seeds for Toto Among the Murderers.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Sally for both the interview and for her kind permission to reproduce the photographs in this blog — all © Sally J Morgan. (Photographer: Jessica Chubb)

Toto among the murderers / Morgan, Sally J

“It is 1973 and Jude – known to her friends as Toto – has just graduated from art school and moves into a house in a run-down part of Leeds. Jude is a chaotic wild child who flirts with the wrong kind of people, drinks too much and gets stoned too often. Never happy to stay in one place for very long, her restlessness takes her on hitchhiking jaunts up and down the country. Her best friend, Nel, is the only steady influence Jude has but Nel’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems.”

“Reports of attacks on women punctuate the news and Jude takes off again, suffocated by an affair she has been having with a married woman. But what she doesn’t realise is that the violence is moving ever closer to home: there is Janice across the road who lives in fear of being beaten up again by her pimp and Nel, whose perfect life is coming undone at her boyfriend’s hands. At the same time infamous murderers, Fred and Rosemary West, are stalking the country, on the lookout for girls like Jude.” (Catalogue)

Fiction predictions: Novels to watch for in 2022 Part Two

“We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away.”

― Alan Moore, Watchmen

And so once again we peer into the tea leaves of the future, stranded at the bottom of the cracked bone china teacup, from the Sunday best tea set, and put our powers of divination to use, to divine what literary gems have coalesced from the collective imaginations of the global literary community for the second half of 2022.

Scheduled to be released in July is The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton, the sequel to bestselling The Miniaturist, set again in Amsterdam in the 17th-century Amsterdam.

In August we have Amit Chaudhuri’s Sojourn, which explores Berlin’s legacy of division.

We loved Mordew, which introduced us to Alex Pheby’s weird and wonderful Mervyn Peake inspired fantasy world, so we are thrilled to see the announcement of Malarkoi, the second instalment of the series.

We also enjoy a tale with a dramatic shipwreck, so another novel slated for release in August that immediately caught our attention was The Night Ship by Jess Kidd; a tale of imagination, shipwrecks and mutiny that connects two children living two centuries apart.

Unsurprisingly one theme that many authors have explored in recent years is the ongoing environmental collapse that we are currently experiencing. Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman is one such work; it’s from the author of Boxer, Beetle so is bound to be an interesting and unusual read,  and finally for August we have another instalment of Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh’s crime series titled The Long Knives.

Robert Harris is acclaimed worldwide for his immersive historical fiction novels such as Enigma and Pompeii to name but two, so his latest novel Act of Oblivion about events in the wake of the execution of Charles I is highly anticipated.  Also due in October winner of the Women’s prize for Literature Kamila Shamsie releases her latest book about power and friendship and it is titled Best of Friends.

In September Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk releases Nights of Plague, a historical novel set during the tail end of the Ottoman empire.

In graphic novel circles Alan Moore is a legend with works like the classic Watchmen, V For Vendetta and The Saga Of Swamp Thing in his portfolio. Alan announced he was retiring from writing graphic novels in 2016 to concentrate on fiction writing.  His two novels so far are Voice of the Fire and Jerusalem, so it is with some excitement we look forward to reading his new collection of short fiction called Illuminations. One debut we await with much interest is from actor Paterson Joseph; his novel The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho revolves around the real-life story of Charles Ignatius Sancho the British abolitionist, writer and composer who was born on a slave ship and eventually became one of the leading lights of Regency London. And to round off our advanced peek of what’s to come in 2022, we have a gothic father and son road trip set in the era of Argentina’s military junta from international Booker shortlisted Mariana Enriquez; that book is titled Our Share of Night.
The miniaturist / Burton, Jessie
“On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin. But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Friend of my youth / Chaudhuri, Amit
“A novelist named Amit Chaudhuri visits his childhood home of Bombay. The city, reeling from the memory of the 2008 terrorist attacks, weighs heavily on Amit’s mind, as does the unexpected absence of his childhood friend Ramu, a drifting, opaque figure who is Amit’s last remaining connection to the city he once called home.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Mordew / Pheby, Alex
” God is dead, his corpse hidden in the catacombs beneath Mordew. In the slums of the sea-battered city, a young boy called Nathan Treeves lives with his parents, eking out a meager existence by picking treasures from the Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns. Until one day his desperate mother sells him to the mysterious Master of Mordew. The Master derives his magical power from feeding on the corpse of God. But Nathan, despite his fear and lowly station, has his own strength–” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The hoarder / Kidd, Jess
“Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her. With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Madness is better than defeat / Beauman, Ned
“In 1938, two rival expeditions set off for a lost Mayan temple in the jungles of Honduras. One intends to shoot a comedy on location while the other plans to disassemble the temple and ship it back to New York. A stalemate ensues. Twenty years later a rogue CIA agent sets out to exploit it as a geopolitical pawn – unaware that the temple is the locus of grander conspiracies. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Crime / Welsh, Irvine
“Now bereft of both youth and ambition, Detective Inspector Ray Lennox is recovering from a mental breakdown induced by occupational stress and cocaine abuse, and a particularly horrifying child sex murder case back in Edinburgh. On vacation in Florida, his fiancee, Trudi, is only interested in planning their forthcoming wedding, and a bitter argument sees a deranged Lennox cast adrift in strip-mall Florida. He meets two women in a seedy bar, ending up at their apartment for a coke binge interrupted by two menacing strangers…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pompeii / Harris, Robert
“A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome’s richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

 

Home fire / Shamsie, Kamila
“Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The red-haired woman / Pamuk, Orhan
“On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, excavating without luck meter by meter, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before. The pair will come to depend on each other, and exchange stories reflecting disparate views of the world. But in the nearby town, where they buy provisions and take their evening break, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red Haired women…” (Catalogue)

Jerusalem : a novel / Moore, Alan
“In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap housing projects. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative among its saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol colored puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them.  An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth and poverty…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Things we lost in the fire : stories / Enriquez, Mariana
“A haunting collection of short stories all set in Argentina reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent. Stories include The dirty kid, The inn, The intoxicated years,  Adela’s house, Spider web, End of term,  No flesh over our bones, The neighbor’s courtyard, Under the black water and Green red orange.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Interview: Sam Duckor-Jones on his new work “Gloria”

Image of the very pink inside of Gloria


The fabulous local poet and artist Sam Duckor-Jones made waves across international headlines recently, following his ongoing five-year transformation of an 83-year-old church in Greymouth. Designed as a “queer place of worship”, Duckor-Jones is in the process of turning the church into an innovative, immersive work of art. The space, which Duckor-Jones refers to as Gloria, is coloured in a resplendent, veritable explosion of pink hues and tones. It also, delightfully, includes a huge pink neon “Gloria” sign over the altar. The work also features a unique congregation of 50 Papier-mâché people.

Sam says in the Guardian piece about the work that he wants Gloria to “belong to the community”. It has already become a destination for visitors within our shores, and one suspects that when our borders eventually open will attract a lot of visitors from further afield. We were very fortunate to be able to interview Duckor-Jones last year (in conjunction with Radioactive FM), when he talked to us about his poetry and his plans for Gloria (long before word of the work had reached the international media).

You can listen to that interview conducted by Liam Wild below, and read the Guardian piece here.  If you’d like to know more about Duckor-Jones’ work, you can follow this link to his profile at Bowen Galleries.

As well as his artistic practice, Duckor-Jones is also an acclaimed poet. You can borrow his poetry collections from us, which we have collated into a handy booklist at the end of this blog post.

We wish to extend our heart felt thanks to Sam Duckor-Jones and interviewer Liam Wild for this wonderful interview. All photographs in this blog are copyrighted and reproduced with the kind permission of Sam Duckor-Jones


Party legend / Duckor-Jones, Sam
“Sam Duckor Jones’s first poetry collection was a tour of small towns, overgrown lawns, and giant clay men. In Party Legend he turns once again to questions of existence but at an even bigger scale. These are poems about creation, God, intimacy, the surreality of political rhetoric, misunderstandings at the supermarket – and they are fearless in form and address. Though Party Legend is often wildly funny, it is also, in its Duckor-Jonesian way, tender-hearted and consoling.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

People from the pit stand up / Duckor-Jones, Sam
“This is the voice of someone who is both at home and not at home in the world. Sam Duckor-Jones’s wonderfully fresh, funny, dishevelled poems are alive with art-making and fuelled by a hunger for intimacy. Giant clay men lurk in salons, the lawns of poets overgrow, petrolheads hoon along the beach, birds cry ‘wow-okay, wow-okay, wow-okay’.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Out here : an anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers from Aotearoa
“A remarkable anthology of queer New Zealand voices. We became teenagers in the nineties when New Zealand felt a lot less cool about queerness and gender felt much more rigid. We knew instinctively that hiding was the safest strategy. But how to find your community if you’re hidden? Aotearoa is a land of extraordinary queer writers, many of whom have contributed to our rich literary history. But you wouldn’t know it. Decades of erasure and homophobia have rendered some of our most powerful writing invisible. Out Here will change that. This landmark book brings together and celebrates queer New Zealand writers from across the gender and LGBTQIA+ spectrum .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Short poems of New Zealand
” Funny, startling, poignant, illuminating, and always succinct, this anthology celebrates the many moods and forms of the short poem and demonstrates its power in holding our attention. Included here are famous names like Manhire, Glover, Hulme, Bethell, and Cochrane, amongst many new and rediscovered gems.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Annual. 2
“Annual 2 contains all-new material for 9- to- 13-year-olds. The result is a highly original, contemporary take on the much-loved annuals of the past – all in one beautiful package. Alongside familiar names publishing for children – Gavin Mouldey, Sarah Johnson, Ben Galbraith, Barry Faville, Giselle Clarkson, and Gregory O’Brien – you’ll find the unexpected, including a new song by Bic Runga, a small-town mystery by Paul Thomas, and a classic New Zealand comic illustrated by new talent Henry Christian Slane. Smart and packed with content, a book for the whole family.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fiction predictions: Novels to watch for in 2022

If I’m remembered 100 years from now, I hope it will be not for looks but for books. – Dolly Parton

So, with 2022 now well and truly started, we find ourselves at the perfect juncture in time to dust off our crystal ball to ascertain what fictional treasures may be in store for 2022. To get you in the mood for these titles, we have listed some of the previous works by the authors discussed at the end of this piece. Of course, there are many titles to be published that aren’t yet announced or on publisher’s schedules. Our crystal ball advises that you should check our fiction blog regularly for more fantastic fiction predictions.

To kick off January, we have The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, a story of bookshops and ghosts from the Pulitzer-winning author. For February, we have a new novel from author Monica Ali; Love Marriage, billed as a study of contemporary society, follows a wedding that brings together two families and their cultures.

Marian Keyes’ new book  Again, Rachel is a sequel to Rachel’s Holiday, set twenty-five years after the first book. Also in February, the pleasures of beauty and the senses are celebrated by a writer in Christos Tsiolkas’ 7 ½

March sees the release of one of the books we are very excited by (which incidentally is accompanied by its own tie-in album). The wonderful iconic, immortal of country music Dolly Parton releases her first ever novel called Run, Rose, Run in conjunction with James Patterson, who recently also teamed up with US ex-president Bill Clinton to release a joint novel; the  thriller is reportedly about a young singer-songwriter. On a slightly different vein we have Marlon James’ second book that celebrates African mythology called Moon Witch, Spider King and the purchase of the Holy Grail by an elderly woman is the premise of the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran called Chivalry.

April sees the follow up to the Booker prize winning Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart called Young Mungo, about the dangerous love between two Glaswegian men. Also, in April we have Companion Piece by Ali Smith and a new novel from the Station Eleven author Emily St John Mandel called Sea of Tranquility a tale of parallel worlds, time travel and pandemics.

In May we have a darkly humorous novel of revenge, murder and love set in pandemic Australia from Steve Toltz called Here Goes Nothing.

And finally, for the end of this first instalment for 2022 in June we have the following  Ghost Lover by Lisa Taddeo, Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh about medieval fiefdom, occult forces, and cannibalism, Sandra Newman’s The Men (about a parallel world where every male person suddenly vanishes) and Fight Night by Canadian writer Miriam Toews, about an eccentric and fierce household of women.

Keep your eyes peeled on our social media for part two coming soon.

The night watchman : a novel / Erdrich, Louise
“It is 1953. Thomas Wazhushk is a prominent Chippewa Council member, trying to understand a new bill that is soon to be put before Congress. The US Government calls it an ’emancipation’ bill; but it isn’t about freedom – it threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land, their very identity. How can he fight this betrayal? Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Pixie – ‘Patrice’ – Paranteau has no desire to wear herself down on a husband and kids. She works at the factory, earning barely enough to support her mother and brother, let alone her alcoholic father. But Patrice needs every penny if she’s ever going to get to Minnesota to find her missing sister Vera.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Brick lane : a novel / Ali, Monica
“Nanzeen, married off to an older man, moves from her Bangladeshi village to live with him in London in the 1980s and 1990s, where she raises a family, learns to love her husband, and comes to a realization that she has a voice in her own life.” ( atalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

Rachel’s holiday / Keyes, Marian
“The fast lane is too slow for twenty-seven-year-old Rachel Walsh, who has a fondness for recreational drugs and good-looking men. And New York City is the perfect place for a young Irish female to overdo…everything! But then the merry-go-round stops short. In quick succession, Rachel loses her job, her best friend, and the boyfriend she adores…and wakes up in a hospital emergency room, having overindulged…” (Adapted from  atalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

 

Damascus / Tsiolkas, Christos
“‘They kill us, they crucify us, they throw us to beasts in the arena, they sew our lips together and watch us starve. They bugger children in front of fathers and violate men before the eyes of their wives. The temple priests flay us openly in the streets and the Judeans stone us. We are hunted everywhere and we are hunted by everyone. We are despised, yet we grow. We are tortured and crucified and yet we flourish. We are hated and still we multiply. Why is that? You must wonder, how is it we survive?’ ” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The president is missing / Clinton, Bill
“The White House is the home of the President of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a U.S. President vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so? An unprecedented collaboration between President Bill Clinton and the world’s bestselling novelist, James Patterson, The President Is Missing is a breathtaking story from the pinnacle of power.” (catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

Black leopard, red wolf / James, Marlon
“Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter – and he always works alone. But when he is engaged to find a child who disappeared three years ago, he must break his own rules, joining a group of eight very different mercenaries working together to find the boy. Following the lost boy’s scent from one ancient city to another, into dense forests and across deep rivers, Tracker starts to wonder: Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And most important of all, who is telling the truth and who is lying?” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

American gods / Gaiman, Neil
“Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Shuggie Bain / Stuart, Douglas
“Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good-but under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be.” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook

Summer / Smith, Ali
“In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile, the world’s in meltdown–and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time. This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: Where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common? Summer.” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Station eleven / Mandel, Emily St. John
“One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Quicksand : a novel / Toltz, Steve
“Liam, a policeman and aspiring author, looks for inspiration to his best friend, Aldo, a hapless criminal with a knack for misfortunes who is trying to win back his ex-wife.” (Adapted from catalogue)

 

 

Animal / Taddeo, Lisa
‘”I drove myself out of New York City where a man shot himself in front of me. He was a gluttonous man and when his blood came out it looked like the blood of a pig. That’s a cruel thing to think, I know. He did it in a restaurant where I was having dinner with another man, another married man. Do you see how this is going?” At thirty-six, Joan knows more than most of the price of pleasure, the quotidian horror of being a woman at the mercy of a man. She knows men, too – their penchant for cruelty, the violence she has absorbed over decades that now threatens to burst from her own hands.” (Adapted from catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Death in her hands / Moshfegh, Ottessa
” While on her normal daily walk with her dog, our protagonist comes across a note. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken. She is new to this area, and she knows very few people. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The heavens / Newman, Sandra
“A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate — and they begin to fall in love. From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn’t that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she’s had since childhood. In the dream, she’s transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Women talking / Toews, Miriam
“Between 2005 and 2009, in a remote religious Mennonite colony, over a hundred girls and women were knocked unconscious and raped, by what many thought were ghosts or demons, as a punishment for their sins. As the women tentatively began to share the details of the attacks-waking up sore and bleeding and not understanding why-their stories were chalked up to ‘wild female imagination.’ Women Talking is an imagined response to these real events. Eight women, all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their colony and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in, meet secretly in a hayloft with the intention of making a decision about how to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.” (Adapted from catalogue)

“I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life”: Our new crime & mystery titles for January

“I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life.”
— Nancy Mitford

Welcome to our first newly acquired Crime and Mystery titles roundup of 2022.
One of the titles we have selected for inclusion in this month’s list is The Mitford Vanishing, the fifth instalment of Jessica Fellowes’ Mitford Murders Mystery series, which skilfully and compellingly weaves fact and fiction into mystery stories revolving round the glamorous and eventful world of the Mitford sisters.

The Mitford family were amongst the most colourful and talked about aristocratic families in Britain of the 20th century; especially their six daughters, due in part to their controversial, stylish and privileged younger days, which were often lived out in the public eye. Times journalist Ben Macintyre once succinctly summarised the sisters up in this way “Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur.”

Three of the sisters became acclaimed writers. Perhaps the best known and most famous of which was Nancy, whose novels include The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate,. Her novels are still regarded as sharply observed and wittily written stories about upper class lives in England and Europe at that point in time, though Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death is also regarded as a classic of its type.

The Mitford Vanishing revolves around the disappearance of the communist Mitford sister Jessica in Spain during the Spanish civil war. Other titles that caught our attention were the Neo Noir Shoot the Moonlight Out by William Boyle and not one but two new crime outings set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes & the three winter terrors by James Lovegrove and Miss Moriarty, I presume? by Sherry Thomas.

The Mitford vanishing / Fellowes, Jessica
“War with Germany is looming, and a civil war already raging in Spain. Split across political lines, the six Mitford sisters are more divided than ever. Meanwhile their former maid Louisa Cannon is now a private detective, working with her ex-policeman husband Guy Sullivan. Louisa and Guy are surprised when a call comes in from novelist Nancy Mitford requesting that they look into the disappearance of her Communist sister Jessica, nicknamed Decca. It quickly becomes clear that Decca may have made for the war in Spain – and not alone…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bloodless boy / Lloyd, Robert J
“The City of London, New Year’s Day, 1678. Eleven years have passed since the Great Fire ripped through the City. Twenty since the death of Cromwell and the restoration of a king. London is gripped by hysteria, where rumours of Catholic plots and sinister foreign assassins abound. When the body of a young boy drained of his blood is discovered on the snowy bank of the Fleet River, Robert Hooke, the Curator of Experiments of the Royal Society for the Improving of Natural Knowledge, and his assistant Harry Hunt, are called in to explain such a ghastly finding — and whether it’s part of a plot against the king. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Shoot the moonlight out / Boyle, William
“Southern Brooklyn, July 1996. Punk kids have to make their own fun. Bobby Santovasco and his pal Zeke like to throw rocks at cars getting off the Belt Parkway.  Fast forward five years: June 2001. Charlie French is a low-level gangster-wannabe trying to make a name for himself. When he stumbles onto a bowling alley locker stuffed with a bag full of cash, he brings it to his only pal, Max Berry, for safekeeping while he cleans up the mess surrounding it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Double take : a Madison Kelly mystery / Breck, Elizabeth
” San Diego journalist Barrett Brown has been missing for a week, and her boyfriend hires private investigator Madison Kelly to find her. Barrett reminds Madison of a younger version of herself: smart, ambitious, and a loner. As she investigates, Madison realizes that Barrett’s disappearance is connected to a big story she was chasing. She sets out to walk in Barrett’s footsteps– and as the trail grows colder, things begin to heat up between Madison and Barrett’s boyfriend. But he doesn’t seem to be telling everything he knows.. What dirty secrets lie at the heart of Barrett’s big lead? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Lemon / Kwŏn, Yŏ-sŏn
“In the summer of 2002, when Korea is abuzz over hosting the FIFA World Cup, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on is killed in what becomes known as the High School Beauty Murder. Two suspects quickly emerge: rich kid Shin Jeongjun, whose car Hae-on was last seen in, and delivery boy Han Manu, who witnesses Hae-on in the passenger seat of Jeongjun’s car just a few hours before her death. But when Jeongjun’s alibi turns out to be solid, and no evidence can be pinned on Manu, the case goes cold. Seventeen years pass without any resolution Unable to move on with her life, Da-on sets out to find the truth of what happened. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Under color of law / Clark, Aaron Philip
“Black rookie cop Trevor “Finn” Finnegan aspires to become a top-ranking officer in the Los Angeles Police Department and fix a broken department. A fast-track promotion to detective in the coveted Robbery-Homicide Division puts him closer to achieving his goal. Four years later, calls for police accountability rule the headlines. The city is teeming with protests for racial justice. When the body of a murdered Black academy recruit is found in the Angeles National Forest, Finn is tasked to investigate. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The savage kind / Copenhaver, John
“Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher. When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows of the school. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. And a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River–murdered…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dolphin Junction / Herron, Mick
“When a man’s wife leaves him under suspicious circumstances, he sets off in search for her, unprepared for the guilty secrets he’s about to drag back into the light. A man is tempted by a luxury apartment with a top-of-the-range kitchen. But there is a heavy price to pay for this glamorous new life. And a couple with their marriage on the rocks go on a hike through the Derbyshire countryside as another way to avoid their real problems. Mick Herron’s skill for tension, humour, and memorable twists are captured in his short stories, collected here for the first time.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sherlock Holmes & the three winter terrors / Lovegrove, James
“1889. The First Terror. At a boys? prep school in the Kent marshes, a pupil is found drowned in a pond. Could this be the fulfilment of a witch’s curse from over two hundred years earlier? 1890. The Second Terror. A wealthy man dies of a heart attack at his London townhouse. Was he really frightened to death by ghosts? 1894. The Third Terror. A body is discovered in the dark woods near a Surrey country manor, hideously ravaged. Is the culprit a cannibal, as the evidence suggests? These three chilling and strangely linked crimes test Sherlock Holmes?s deductive powers, and his scepticism about the supernatural, to the limit.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Miss Moriarty, I presume? / Thomas, Sherry
“Charlotte Holmes comes face-to-face with her enemy when Moriarty turns to her in his hour of need in the USA Today bestselling series set in Victorian England. A most unexpected client shows up at Charlotte Holmes’s doorstep: Moriarty himself. Moriarty fears that tragedy has befallen his daughter and wants Charlotte to find out the truth. Charlotte and Mrs. Watson travel to a remote community of occult practitioners where Moriarty’s daughter was last seen, a place full of lies and liars. Is it merely to test Charlotte’s skills as an investigator, or has the man of shadows trapped her in a nest of vipers?”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Natural histories and disasters: Newly acquired fiction titles

Image of Awake by Harald Voetmann

New Fiction Banner

[Pliny the Elder] used to say that “no book was so bad but some good might be got out of it.” ― Pliny the Younger


The recent dramatic volcanic eruption just off the coast of Tonga has been a tragic reminder of the power of nature over our lives. It is perhaps a good point in time to reflect that such events have occurred before and have been documented. One of the books in this month’s recently acquired fiction list, Awake by Harald Voetmannhe, features a fictionalised account of Roman’s Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger (his nephew). Pliny the Elder died during the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius whilst organising a rescue mission for survivors of the eruption, whilst Pliny the Younger provided the only eyewitness account of the event from a boat in the bay of Naples. Pliny the Younger, in his letters, describes the eruption of the volcano; the huge resulting cloud, immense waves, as well as the lightning caused by the eruption and the resulting general widespread devastation. Pliny the Younger’s writing is widely regarded as the first volcanological report of such an event.

In Awake, a key part of the narrative is Pliny the Elder’s obsessive compulsion to categorise and understand everything. His book, Naturalis Historia (Natural History), became perhaps the first encyclopaedia and the template for future encyclopaedias to come. Unfortunately, many of the other works written by Pliny the Elder are now lost. Follow this like to borrow Pliny the elder’s Naturalis Historia.

 


Awake / Voetmann, Harald
“In a shuttered bedroom in ancient Italy, the sleepless Pliny the Elder lies in bed obsessively dictating new chapters of his Natural History to his slave Diocles. Fat, wheezing, imperious, and prone to nosebleeds, Pliny does not believe in spending his evenings in repose: No, to be awake is to be alive. There’s no time to waste if he is to classify every element of the natural world in a single work. By day Pliny the Elder carries out his many civic duties and gives the occasional disastrous public reading. But despite his astonishing ambition to catalog everything from precious metals to the moon, as well as a collection of exotic plants sourced from the farthest reaches of the world, Pliny the Elder still takes immense pleasure in the common rose. After he rushes to an erupting Mount Vesuvius and perishes in the ash, his nephew, Pliny the Younger, becomes custodian of his life’s work. But where Pliny the Elder saw starlight, Pliny the Younger only sees fireflies.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The fossil hunter / Cooper, Tea
“The Hunter Valley 1847  The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her – but no one believes her story. In a bid to curb Mellie’s overactive imagination, her benefactors send her to visit a family friend, Anthea Winstanley. Anthea is an amateur palaeontologist with a dream. She is convinced she will one day find proof the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur swam in the vast inland sea that millions of years ago covered her property at Bow Wow Gorge… ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The perishing : a novel / Deón, Natashia
“Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles, nearly naked and with no memory of how she got there or where she’s from, only a fleeting sense that this isn’t the first time she’s found herself in similar circumstances. Taken in by a caring foster family, Lou dedicates herself to her education while trying to put her mysterious origins behind her. She’ll go on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times, but Lou’s extraordinary life is about to become even more remarkable. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Matrix / Groff, Lauren
“Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her…” (Catalogue)

Fight night / Toews, Miriam
” Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv’s absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to “Gord,” her unborn grandchild (and Swiv’s soon-to-be brother or sister). “You’re a small thing,” Grandma writes to Gord, “and you must learn to fight.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Burntcoat : a novel / Hall, Sarah
“In an unnamed British city, the virus is spreading, and like everyone else, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness retreats inside. She isolates herself in her immense studio, Burntcoat, with Halit, the lover she barely knows. As life outside changes irreparably, inside Burntcoat, Edith and Halit find themselves changed as well: by the histories and responsibilities each carries and bears, by the fears and dangers of the world outside, and by the progressions of their new relationship” (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook

The matzah ball / Meltzer, Jean
“For a decade Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt has hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach. When her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration runs dry. Rachel is determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy– Jacob Greenberg. Their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah, but as they spend time together Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah– and Jacob.” (Catalogue)

A passage north : a novel / Arudpragasam, Anuk
“A Passage North begins with a message: a telephone call informing Krishan, newly returned to Colombo, that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died in unexpected circumstances–found at the bottom of the village well, her neck broken. The news coincides with the arrival of an email from Anjum, a woman with whom he had a brief but passionate relationship in Delhi a few years before, bringing with it the stirring of old memories and desires. As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn northern province for the funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the soul of a country…” (Catalogue)