“There’s only one Maltese Falcon” – our most recent selection of newly acquired crime and mystery novels

“If you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.” –Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman from the  1941 film The Maltese Falcon.

There's only one Maltese Falcon." -Kasper Gutman #SydneyGreenstreet #TheMalteseFalcon | Dark city, Giphy, Green street

The Alfred Hitchcock plot device known as the McGuffin is strongly in evidence in our recently acquired crime novel Blotto, Twinks and the Maharajah’s Jewel by Simon Brett. In the case of this book the McGuffin in question is a huge diamond, but what actually is a McGuffin?

Well, Hitchcock described it in this way: “The McGuffin is the thing that the spies are after, but the audience don’t care.” It is an event, object, or device, necessary to the motivation of the characters and the story, though largely irrelevant in itself.

Two very famous examples of McGuffins are the Maltese Falcon in the book by Dashiell Hammett and as described by George Lucas himself (perhaps controversially)  R2D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) the first 1977 Star Wars film .  Of course, novels employ many other plot drivers and in many of this month’s selection of recently acquired crime novels the main plot driver is the old classic, the burning desire to solve a ghastly crime. Below is a selection of our newly acquired crime novels.

Blotto, Twinks and the Maharajah’s jewel / Brett, Simon
“An idle conversation on the merits of the glorious game with an old Etonian chum is just the excuse Blotto needs to put himself forward for a cricket tour to foreign climes… and so begins the next adventure for our intrepid duo, So Twinks joins Blotto on a steamer bound for India, one that is full of young woman desperate to marry well there — only once having encountered the dashing Blotto, a lot of them fancy the idea of getting married before they reach their destination. And, unbeknownst to the siblings, also on the ship is the international jewel thief M. le Vicomte Xavier Douce, passing himself off as one of Blotto’s cricketing entourage.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A man named Doll / Ames, Jonathan
“Happy Doll is a charming, if occasionally inexpert, private detective living just one sheer cliff drop beneath the Hollywood sign with his beloved half-Chihuahua half-Terrier, George. A veteran of both the Navy and LAPD, Doll supplements his meager income as a P.I. by working through the night at a local Thai spa that offers its clients a number of special services. Armed with his sixteen-inch steel telescopic baton, biting dry humor, and just a bit of a hero complex, the ex-cop sets out to protect the women who work there from clients who have trouble understanding the word “no.”  (Catalogue)

House with no doors / Noon, Jeff
“At first glance, Leonard Graves’ death was unremarkable. Sleeping pills, a bottle of vodka, a note saying goodbye. But when Detective Henry Hobbes discovers a grave in the basement, he realizes there is something far more sinister at work. Further investigation unearths more disturbing evidence. Scattered around the old house are women’s dresses. All made of the same material. All made in the same colours. And all featuring a rip across the stomach, smeared in blood. As the investigation continues and the body count rises, Hobbes must also deal with the disappearance of his son–” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Figure in the photograph / Sullivan, Kevin
“1898. Juan Cameron’s father is killed while working as a photographer amidst the chaos of war in Cuba, but his last pictures reveal a sinister truth to his final moments. Juan travels to Scotland to grieve with family and immerses himself in the study of photography. When he invents a device that inadvertently solves a crime, local law enforcement recruit him to help stop a brutal serial killer plaguing the streets of Glasgow.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The Oxford Brotherhood / Martínez, Guillermo
“Mathematics student G is trying to resurrect his studies, which is proving difficult as he finds himself — and not for the first time — drawn into investigating a series of mysterious crimes. After meeting with a member of the Lewis Carroll Brotherhood, a startling new discovery by Carroll’s great niece rocks Oxford, leading to deadly plots, salacious pictures and murder. G must stretch his mathematical mind to its limits to solve the mystery and understand the cryptic workings of the Brotherhood. Until then, nobody, not even G, is safe.”–Publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of vengeance / Bishop, D. V.
“Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth. Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany, or suffer the consequences. During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. ….” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

The Marlow Murder Club / Thorogood, Robert
“Judith is 77 years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink. One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

Before you knew my name / Bublitz, Jacqueline
“Ruby Jones is a lonely Australian woman trying to put distance between herself and a destructive relationship back home, and is struggling in the aftermath of being the person to find Alice’s body. When she encounters Death Club, a small group of misfits who meet at bars around the city to discuss death and dying, she finds a safe space to explore her increasing obsession with the girl and her unidentified killer. Alice, seemingly stuck between life and death, narrates Ruby’s story, hoping that this woman will help her come to terms with what happened and help identify her body. ” (Catalogue)

Collectable toys and the Wellington Collectors Toy Fair (5 July)

Collectable toys are intriguing snapshots of a time and a culture — many can even be fascinating miniature artworks, and nowadays, some of the more collectable ones can be worth a lot. Wellington City Libraries has a collection of toy collector books and magazines if you have an interest in collectable toys — have a browse below!

And did you know there’s a toy fair for collectors on in the Wellington region next month (5 July)? It’s the Wellington Collectors Toy Fair, which you can visit for a small charge and meet other collectors. Suitable for all ages.


Toys : how to pick antiques like a pro / Bradley, Eric
“Welcome to Toyland! Whether it’s a rare three-wheeled motorcycle that sold for $23,000 or an unopened LEGO set of the Millennium Falcon that can go for as much as $4,500, toy-box treasures are  waiting to be found. In this hands-on, how-to guide book, you’ll uncover: The best toys to hunt for, including action figures, LEGO sets, model trains, space toys, teddy bears, tin toys, vehicles, oddities, and more ; Practical strategies from top buyers and sellers ; Where to find hidden treasures ; How to flip toys for profit and fun ; Common fakes and reproductions.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Matchbox toys / Jones, Nick
“Matchbox toys were ubiquitous items for children across the Western world. Originally labelled Christmas-cracker trash by retailers and shopkeepers, they soon began to see unprecedented worldwide sales in the 1950s. In this beautifully illustrated book, Matchbox collector Nick Jones tells the story of Matchbox and its most famous toys, from the Coronation Coach to the Batmobile, and complements the story with beautiful, previously unpublished photographs.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Tin dream machines : German tinplate toy cars and motorcycles of the 1950s and 1960s / Walter, Gerhard G
“This is a picture book, a price guide, and a history of one of the most popular collecting areas in the toy world. It showcases the finest racing cars, saloons, convertibles, motorcycles, track toys and filling stations made in the 1950s and 1960s ” (adapted from the Catalogue)

Miller’s toys & games.
“Part of a series of specialist price guides in the collectables field, this title illustrates thousands of different toys and games with descriptions and prices. This enables the collector to gauge price differences due to factors such as location, condition, or provenance.” (Catalogue)

In miniature : how small things illuminate the world / Garfield, Simon
“Tiny Eiffel Towers. Platoons of brave toy soldiers. A doll’s house created for a Queen. Diminutive crime scenes crafted to catch a killer. Model villages and miniscule railways. These are just a few of the objects you will discover in the pages of In Miniature. Bringing together history, psychology, art, and obsession, Garfield explores what fuels the strong appeal of miniature objects among collectors, modelers, and fans. The toys we enjoy as children invest us with a rare power at a young age, conferring on us a taste of adult-sized authority.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Collecting Dinky toys / Richardson, Mike
“Dinky, a name that became synonymous with the whole genre of small toy cars is actually the name of a highly collectible brand of British-made toy vehicles produced from 1934 to 1979. Avid collectors know Dinky Toys. Now Collecting Dinky Toys tells everyone the whole story. Here’s the complete list of every Dinky Toy from cars, trucks, and buses to ships, construction vehicles, and military vehicles, plus their accessories. This valuable identification and value guide lists more than 1,500 toy vehicles with the dates manufactured, colors, and current values.” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Matchbox : the official 50th anniversary commemorative book / Scholl, Richard
“Have you ever wondered why certain vehicles are considered more collectible than others? Or why Matchbox cars are numbered and what those numbers mean? The answers to these questions and more can be found throughout the pages of this authoritative book. You will also take a historical journey from when Matchbox cars were invented since half a century ago, and the large variety of vehicles produced over the years.(Adapted from Amazon.com)

Dolls of the Art Deco era, 1910-1940 / Oroyan, Susanna
“Rediscover old sentimental favourite dolls from the Art Deco era with doll maker Susanna Oroyan. Filled with full colour illustrations, this book presents a gallery of creative inspiration for collectors, crafters and all doll lovers.” (Catalogue)

Exploring the history of childhood and play through 50 historic treasures / Fletcher, Susan A.
“Exploring The History of Childhood and Play in American History Through 50 Historic Treasures is a compilation of fifty iconic toys and games from American history. As the amount of leisure time available to children has increased in the United States, the number of toys available to them has also dramatically increased”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

The toymaker / Pieper, Liam
“Adam Kulakov likes his life. He’s on the right side of middle age; the toy company he owns brightens the lives of millions of children around the world; and he has more money than he can ever spend, a wife and child he adores, and as many mistresses as he can reasonably hide from them. And he is not the only one with secrets. In 1944, Adam’s grandfather, Arkady, was imprisoned in Auschwitz and given an impossible choice. Now, as he reaches the end of his life, he has to keep the truth from his family, and hold back the crushing memories of his time with one of history’s greatest monsters.” (Catalogue)

Building antique model cars in wood / Reeves, William
“Here you’ll find easy-to-follow directions, patterns, measurements, and photographs for building 6 authentic and detailed motorcars from the dawn of the automobile age. Only basic woodworking skills and simple tools are required. The cars include the 1903 Model A Ford; 1903 Mercedes; 1903 Dideon Bouton; 1905 Cadillac; 1907 Locomobile; and 1911 Stanley Steamer.” (Catalogue)

The teddy bear encyclopedia / Cockrill, Pauline
“After 100 years, the teddy bear is still very much in vogue. This best – selling encyclopedia is a fascinating way to find out why bears have such long – lasting appeal with collectors all over the world. Read about the all – time, best – loved bears, from the original ‘teddy’ to Winnie – the – Pooh, with new features on the latest collectibles such as Beanie Bear and the Millennium Bears.  The Teddy Bear Encyclopedia contains a wealth of detail and historical information which bear lovers of all kinds will find irresistible.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

NZ author Lee Murray picks up two Bram Stoker Awards®

A huge congratulations to the fabulous Lee Murray for her double win at the recent Bram Stoker Awards®  — the Oscars for dark writing and the world’s premier literary horror awards!

Catalogue link for Black CranesLee won in the category Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for Grotesque: Monster Stories (link goes to Lee’s website, look for our copy on the catalogue soon); and for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (reserve your copy now) in the category of Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Lee’s works and exploits in speculative fiction in New Zealand are numerous and wide-ranging. She has previously received the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel (Into the sounds) as well as Best Collected Work as one of three editors on Te Korero Ahi Kā collection, but Murray’s work isn’t just limited to the page. She has also helped establish key writing communities in New Zealand and been involved with events such as GeyserCon. In 2020, she was made an Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours. Her other works include the Taine McKenna military thrillers, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra, co-written with Dan Rabarts, as well as several books for children.

Find out more about Murray’s work on her website:

Visit Lee Murray’s website

Below we’ve included our exclusive video featuring Lee Murray and her The Path of Ra co author Dan Rabarts reading their work in our Home With Ghosts series.

Browse Lee’s work:

Black cranes : Tales of unquiet women.
“Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In Black Cranes, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their experiences of ‘otherness’, be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world.Black Cranes is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be a perpetual outsider.” (Catalogue)


Into the ashes / Murray, Lee
” The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring, ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the sounds / Murray, Lee
“On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?​”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secrets. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths and beautiful possibilities. Te Korero Ahi Kā-to speak of the home fires burning-is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members of SpecFicNZ (New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

At the edge
“Step up, as close as you dare… …to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights, at the edge of town, where the cellphone coverage is decidedly dodgy, at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks, at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows, at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring side seat, at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on… From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 23 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.”–Publisher description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Teeth of the wolf / Rabarts, Dan
“Scientific consultant Penny Yee has barely drawn breath before Detective Inspector Tanner assigns her another suspicious death, with Matiu tagging along for the ride. That’s fine as long as he stays outside the crime scene tape, but when one of Matiu’s former cronies turns up dead, Penny wonders if her brother might be more than just an innocent bystander. While she’s figuring that out, the entire universe conspires against her, with a cadaver going AWOL, her DNA sequencer spitting the dummy, and the rent due any day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hounds of the underworld / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving.  Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.” (Catalogue)

A foreign country : New Zealand speculative fiction
“Strange creatures are loose in Miramar, desperate survivors cling to the remains of a submerged country, humanity’s descendants seek to regain what they’ve lost, and the residents of Gisborne reluctantly serve alien masters. The visions of New Zealand – and beyond – painted in this collection of short stories are both instantly recognisable, and nothing like the place we know. A FOREIGN COUNTRY brings together the work of established authors and fresh voices to showcase the range of stories produced by New Zealand’s growing community of speculative fiction writers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Regeneration : New Zealand speculative fiction II
“Some things are gone forever; but that is not the end. There are new lives to be lived, new discoveries to be made, changes to be fought for, enjoyed, or feared. Experience worlds where existence continues beyond death and much-wanted babies become something else entirely. Where humanity endures in hostile environments, societies adapt to new challenges and inventions, and strange creatures live secretly among us. Travel from a curiously altered Second World War to other universes at the end of time, taking in diverse visions of New Zealand and worlds beyond along the way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Live well, spend less – a booklist

Make every dollar work for you while also enjoying your food, home, and giving great gifts. Have a browse of the books below for tasty recipes that use everyday ingredients, decorating ideas to make your home yours in a rental, tips for growing food in the backyard, and living life well while also saving money.

Interested in one of these titles but it’s not at a branch near you? You can have books delivered to a branch near you, by clicking on the ‘Place Reserve’ button.

Here are also some useful and free resources:


Live well, spend less : easy ways to save money in every part of your life / Gray, Sophie
“This simple, practical and definitely not boring book on living well while spending less will appeal to families but also to students, flatters and fixed income households. It incorporates tips, suggestions and strategies  with a light-hearted, easy-to-apply and, honest approach. Covering all aspects of life, there are suggestions for making money as well using less of it.  Topics include: food, energy, cleaning, cars, outdoors; family life, kids and money, leisure, celebrations, looking sharp and presents.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

5 ingredients : quick & easy food / Oliver, Jamie
“Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated – that’s why Jamie’s Quick & Easy 5-Ingredient Food is sure to become your new best friend in the kitchen. It’s all about making the journey to good food, super-simple. Every recipe uses just five key ingredients, ensuring you can get a plate of food together fast, whether it’s finished and on the table super-quickly, or after minimal hands-on prep, you’ve let the oven do the hard work for you. We’re talking quality over quantity, a little diligence on the cooking front, and in return massive flavour. Each recipe has been tried and tested (and tested again!) to ensure the book is packed with no-fuss, budget-friendly dishes that you can rustle up, any day of the week.” (Catalogue)

Home sweet rented home : transform your home without losing your deposit / Grillo, Medina
“Stylish living in a rented space. You’ve got the keys from your landlord, moved into your new home, and the boxes are unpacked. Now you want to put your stamp on the place, but how do you do this when you can’t redecorate or renovate? Here, interiors blogger Medina Grillo shares her favourite tips, tricks and DIY projects for transforming a rented space. Learn how to create a gallery wall without damaging the paintwork, add a splash of colour with home accessories, update and improve fixtures and fittings — and make your rented house feel like home.” (Catalogue)

Easy on the pocket, easy to prepare : inexpensive family meals / Holst, Simon
“Who said eating needs to be complicated or costly? In Easy on the pocket, Easy to prepare, Simon Holst shows that doing both is within the reach of cooks of any ability.” (Catalogue)

Edible DIY / Baker, Lucy
“Based on the popular Serious Eats column by the same name, Edible DIY includes 75 easy recipes in five chapters: Crunchy, Boozy, Sweet, Spicy, and Jars. With plenty of packaging tips throughout, Edible DIY is the perfect solution for making inexpensive edible gifts in your own kitchen with everything from Chocolate-Peppermint Marshmallows and Coconut Granola to Homemade Sriracha and Espresso Barbeque Sauce. Illustrated with inspirational full-color photography throughout.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Grow all you can eat in 3 square feet
“Want to grow your own vegetables and food, but don’t have enough space for a garden? Don’t let lack of space get in the way of growing healthy, organic foods at home. Apartment dwellers, schoolteachers, and anyone else who wants to grow a lot of food in a little space will find a great small garden resource in Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet. Small-space gardeners, find your start in Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet, packed with information on window boxes, potted plants, patio gardening, raised beds, small square-foot gardening, container gardening, and everything else related to growing your own small garden. Whether you want to grow a full garden, grow tomatoes, grow an herb garden, or just pick up great tips for small gardens, Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet is the resource you need.” (Catalogue)

Budget bytes : over 100 easy, delicious recipes to slash your grocery bill in half / Moncel, Beth
“The debut cookbook from the Internet expert on making eating cheap dependably delicious. As a college grad during the recent great recession, Beth Moncel found herself, like so many others, broke. Unwilling to sacrifice eating healthy and well-armed with a degree in nutritional science, Beth began tracking her costs with obsessive precision, and soon cut her grocery bill in half. Eager to share her tips and recipes, she launched her blog, Budget Bytes. Soon the blog received millions of readers clamoring for more.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The budget-wise gardener : with hundreds of money-saving buying & design tips for planting the best for less / Mendez, Kerry Ann
“The Budget-Wise Gardener is here with the inside scoop on nailing the best deals and having it all. Author and “plantaholic” Kerry Ann Mendez is a resourceful garden pro who knows where the bargains are hiding. In these tip-filled pages you will learn: How to select plants that pay for their keep and keep on giving; How to navigate catalogs and garden centers to your benefit; How to time your purchases to take advantage of deep discounts and giveaways; How to find treasures at plant, bulb, and seed swaps; and much more.” (Catalogue)

Op shop chic / Lyons, Rosie
“Op shops are treasure troves of the beautiful and unique. In Op Shop Chic, Rosie Lyons shows you how to recycle your pre-loved finds into sylish and original objects to brighten up your home, garden and wardrobe.” — Back cover.” (Catalogue)

A girl called Jack : 100 delicious budget recipes / Monroe, Jack
“In her first cookbook, Jack shows you how to adapt the way you shop to be less wasteful, and to value the techniques of inexpensive but good cooking. Her recipes are reassuring and just the thing to make confident, budget-conscious cooks of us all, suggesting great alternative ingredients and different approaches to getting a good result – this is real food for real people.” (Catalogue)

Low-cost living / Harrison, John
“This book offers practical ways to save money and energy and make better uses of your resources. When economic conditions are tough, we all need to watch our spending. John Harrison’s simple, tried and tested methods will help you to enjoy a better standard of living while saving money and helping the environment. Discover the benefits of growing your own fruit and vegetables, raising chickens, making butter, cheese and bread, and brewing your own beer. Save energy, save on your bills. Harvest food for free and avoid waste.” (Catalogue)

Flight, model aircraft, drones and more

Flight and our ability to put ourselves up in the atmosphere is both an inspirational topic, but also one that can allow for such a mastery and level of skill that it intrigues expert hobbyists. If you are this hobbyist, the list of books below can help you take your hobbies to a new height, or even turn your abilities to a new challenge.

Whether your passion is constructing model plane kits, crafting your own radio control plane, drone photography or even model rockets — there’s something here for every flight hobbyist. And if you’d like to watch your plane taking off and gliding in the air, compete with  professional RC racers, or just find some like-minded flight enthusiasts, make sure to also visit the website of our local Wellington Model Aeroplane Club.


Model aircraft aerodynamics / Simons, Martin
“Presents standard aerodynamic theory, as applied to model flight, in a concise and practical form. An excellent introduction to aerodynamics not only for model flying enthusiasts but also for those concerned with full-scale light and ultralight aircraft and sailplanes, remotely piloted surveillance and research aircraft, wind surfers and land yachts, and the designers of wind turbines. Revised and updated to reflect significant developments in model aircraft. 4th ed.” (Catalogue)

Modelling scale aircraft / Green, Brett
“Brett Green, one of the hobby’s leading names, provides a comprehensive introduction to all of the basic techniques and materials needed to build scale aircraft, from opening the kit box to displaying the finished model, all in one clear and easy-to-follow expert guide. The many detailed photographs with step-by-step captions and the accessible and informative text cover every aspect of aircraft kit construction, from initial preparation through all stages of assembly to detailed finishing. This is an essential resource for any aviation modeller.” (Catalogue)

Drones : teach an Arduino to fly / McGriffy, David
“Make: Drones will help the widest possible audience understand how drones work by providing several DIY drone projects based on the world’s most popular robot controller-the Arduino. The information imparted in this book will show Makers how to build better drones and be better drone pilots, and incidentally it will have applications in almost any robotics project. Why Arduino? Makers know Arduinos and their accessories, they are widely available and inexpensive, and there is strong community support. Open source flight-control code is available for Arduino, and flying is the hook that makes it exciting, even magical, for so many people. Arduino is not only a powerful board in its own right, but it’s used as the controller of most inexpensive 3d printers, many desktop CNCs, and the majority of open source drone platforms.” (Catalogue)

Modelling the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A, F and G / Coughlin, Geoff
“The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 is regarded as one of the best fighters of World War II. Designed by Kurt Tank, it first saw combat in the summer of 1941 and went on to be produced in several variants. It remains a hugely popular subject for aviation scale-modellers. This book, the first of two to cover the Fw190, provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to modelling the Fw 190’s A, F and G variants in 1/72, 1/48, and 1/32 scale. Key aspects such as creating mottled camouflage patterns, undercarriage and cockpit detailing, final weathering and finishing, and diorama bases to display your models are covered.” (Catalogue)

Above the world : earth through a drone’s eye.
“Very rarely does a new technology level a playing field in an art form, allowing unknown talents to share headlines with established artists. Drones are one of these great equalizers. With this book, we are shining a spotlight on some of the world’s best aerial photography. The subjects of those showcased range from a volcanic eruption to the abstract patterns of fish farms as seen from above, and from never-before-seen views of Patagonia to powerful impressions of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Above the World is an ode to the beauty of the aerial image as it can be seen and captured by anyone. Let yourself be inspired.” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

The Airfix book of scale modelling / Mock, Jonathan
“Produced in full collaboration with Airfix and Humbrol, this book explains how to build scale models to suit all levels of modelling skill. With full colour photography throughout, different kits in a range of scales are reviewed and evaluated, along with a comprehensive overview of the paints and accessories that are available.” (Catalogue)

Great to share with family:

The flying machine book : build and launch 35 rockets, gliders, helicopters, boomerangs, and more / Mercer, Bobby
“Shows readers how to turn rubber bands, paper clips, straws, plastic bottles, and index cards into amazing, gravity-defying flyers. Each project contains a material list and detailed step-by-step instructions with photos. Mercer also includes explanations of the science behind each flyer, including concepts such as lift, thrust, and drag, the Bernoulli effect, and more”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

50 model rocket projects for the evil genius / Harper, Gavin D. J
“Plans, diagrams, schematics, and lists of parts and tools for model rocket projects.” (Catalogue)

“Mine is a gruesome job, but for a scientist with a love for the mechanics of the human body, a great one.” – Judy Melinek

“Mine is a gruesome job, but for a scientist with a love for the mechanics of the human body, a great one.”

― Judy Melinek, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

Recently we had the great pleasure of hosting a crime writers’ panel event at our Newtown branch (if you missed it, have no fear – you can watch it below). Amongst our fabulous panel we had husband and wife crime-writing duo T. J. Mitchell and Judy Melinek. So it is fabulous to see in this month’s selection of newly-acquired crime fiction Aftershock, the latest book from the couple which features their forensic sleuth Dr. Jessie Teska.

We have a whole selection of other detective and mystery novels, including the wonderful Paul Cleave, Anna Bailey (a chilling new voice who is gathering rave reviews and definitely an author to check out), and Jane Adam’s historical whodunnit Old Sins, set in the 1920’s and featuring Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone (if you are a fan of the golden age of crime writers this will definitely be of interest).

Below are these and a few other picks from our recently acquired titles.

Aftershock / Melinek, Judy
“There’s a body crushed under a load of pipes on a San Francisco construction site, and medical examiner Dr. Jessie Teska is on call. Her autopsy reveals that the death is a homicide staged as an accident. When an earthquake sends the city reeling, her case falls apart and an innocent man is being framed. Jessie is the only one who can prove it– if she can piece together the truth before it gets buried in the rubble.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The quiet people / Cleave, Paul
“Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Old sins / Adams, Jane
“1929. The discovery of the bodies of two retired policemen, Walter Cole and Hayden Paul, sounds warning bells to DCI Henry Johnstone. Both men were experiencing financial difficulties, and their deaths were staged to look like suicides. Hayden left a note containing two words: old sins. And when Henry attends his sister’s Halloween party, he is approached by a flamenco dancer who leaves a note with the name of another man. Could this be a grim warning?Henry is forced on a painful journey back to an old case he worked on with Cole and Paul.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tall bones / Bailey, Anna
“When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again. Abi’s disappearance cracks open the facade of the small town of Whistling Ridge. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked.  Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder ink / Hechtman, Betty
“Veronica Blackstone is a writer for hire. Be it love letters, biographies, resumes or wedding vows, Veronica has you covered. Her latest assignment is writing a celebration of life book for the funeral of one-time client Rachel Ross who tragically died one year after her wedding. While researching Rachel’s life, Veronica finds the information surrounding the circumstances of her death to be shrouded in mystery. No one quite knows what happened and her prominent family are more concerned with their image than the truth. Was her fall an accident, deliberate or something else? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Becoming Inspector Chen / Qiu, Xiaolong
“After a number of grueling cases Chief Inspector Chen is facing mounting pressure from his superiors, many of whom are concerned with where his loyalties lie. What’s more, he is excluded from an investigation into an incendiary poem posted on an online forum. Wracked with self-doubt and facing an anxious wait to discover the fate of his career, Chen is left to reflect on the events that have led to where he is now – from his amateur investigations as a child during the Cultural Revolution, to his very first case on the Shanghai Police Force. Has fighting for the Chinese people and the morals he believes in put him in conflict with the Party? Why is he being kept away from the new case? As well as his career, is his life now also at risk?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On an outgoing tide / Ramsay, Caro
“The body is found in the early hours of the morning, drifting lifelessly on the outgoing tide. Twenty-three-year-old medical student Aasha Ariti had been enjoying a night out to celebrate the end of lockdown. Anthony Poole, the last person to have seen her alive, is the prime suspect. Before detectives Anderson and Costello can make further headway, they are pulled off the case to investigate the murder of a pensioner in his own home. As they dig deeper however, the two detectives uncover a number of secrets in the dead man’s past. Secrets that link to another murder more than forty years before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood grove / Mosley, Walter
“After being approached by a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran who claims to have gotten into a fight protecting a white woman from a black man, Easy embarks on an investigation that takes him from mountaintops to the desert, through South Central and into sex clubs and the homes of the fabulously wealthy, facing hippies, the mob, and old friends perhaps more dangerous than anyone else.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Pure psychic automatism” – Surrealist masterpieces coming soon to Te Papa

Coming to Te Papa on the 12th of June there will be the ultra-rare chance to see 180 surrealist masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

The Te Papa Surrealist exhibition runs until 31 October in Te Papa’s gallery, Toi Art. Te Papa is the only venue in the Asia Pacific region to host the exhibition, and as a city we’re incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to view these artworks — which include sculpture, furniture, paintings, graphic design, prints, and photography.

Surrealist Art at Te Papa Exhibition

This exhibition features major works by all key surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Leonora Carrington, and Man Ray.

Salvador Dalí, Couple with their heads in the clouds, oil on panel, 1936. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Purchase with the support of: the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Foundation, the Rembrandt Association, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the Erasmusstichting and Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht. Photo: Studio Tromp. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2020.

About Surrealism

Pure psychic automatism, is how co-founder of André Robert Breton French writer and poet and author of the First Manifesto of Surrealism (Manifeste du Surréalisme) defined Surrealism:

Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.

Surrealism was birthed from the fiery remnants of the Dada movement, which was a direct reaction to the propaganda and mechanised slaughter of the First World War. Dada was a mirror to the insanity of the world at the time: the Dadaists saw society’s embrace of progress and rationalism as the problem, and so the movement was anti-idealistic, anti-rational and anti-aesthetic.

Both Surrealism and Dada shared a lot in common — they both incorporated a condemnation of Western logic and reason. However, whilst the Dadaists were unfocused and often nonsensical with a deep suspicion of meaning, the Surrealists were linked to the works of Freud and Jung and were often attempting to tap into the unconscious subliminal world; trying to create images that represented the dream world’s mysteries and secrets and finding powerful motivation for looking for meaning in those subconscious worlds. Both movements served as core precursors to today’s art world, and many modern art movements such as performance art and post modernism originated in these movements.

To get you fully informed before you go along to the exhibition, Wellington City Libraries has an extensive collection of Surrealist books. We’ve highlighted a few below, but you can also browse them on our catalogue:

Surrealism on our Catalogue


Salvador Dali : 1904-1989 / Descharnes, Robert
“Picasso called Dali “”an outboard motor that’s always running.”” Dali thought himself a genius with a right to indulge in whatever lunacy popped into his head. Painter, sculptor, writer, and filmmaker, Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was one of the century’s greatest exhibitionists and eccentrics. He was one of the first to apply the insights of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis to the art of painting, approaching the subconscious with extraordinary sensitivity and imagination. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

René Magritte, 1898-1967 / Meuris, Jacques
“The works of Rene Magritte (1898 – 1967) and the ideas that underlie them are a special case both in the history of modern art and in surrealist painting. In the search for the “”mystery”” in which things and organisms are enveloped, Magritte created pictures which, taking everyday reality as their starting point, were to follow a different logic from that to which we are accustomed. Magritte depicts the world of reality in such unsecretive superficiality that the beholder of his pictures is forced to reflect that the mystery of it is not evoked by some sentimental transfiguration, but rather by the logic of his thoughts and associations. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Duchamp book / Parkinson, Gavin
“Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was, without doubt, one of the most influential and controversial artists of the twentieth century. No other figure has attracted such a wealth of often contradictory interpretation and commentary. Associated with Cubism, Dada and Surrealism and widely seen as a forerunner of conceptual art, he avoided being too closely allied with any one movement. Credited with the invention of the ‘readymade’ and a champion of what he termed ‘non-retinal art,’ he was responsible for some of the most iconic works of his era.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Leonora Carrington : surrealism, alchemy and art / Aberth, Susan
“This, the first book on Leonora Carrington (b. 1917), provides a fascinating overview of this intriguing artist’s life and rich body of work. Carrington’s preoccupation with alchemy and the occult, and the influence of indigenous Mexican culture and beliefs on her production are all explored.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Man Ray : photography and its double
“Man Ray delighted the avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s with daring, creative experimentation. He was the first Surrealist photographer, a gifted rebel with an incisive eye and a passion for freedom and pleasure.This outstanding monograph sheds new light on Man Ray’s photographic genius — incredibly, around one third of these images have never before been published. Visually spectacular and intellectually stimulating it shatters the myth — cultivated by Man Ray himself — that his photographic creativity resulted from timely mistakes and chance occurrences.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The age of light / Scharer, Whitney
“A novel inspired by the life of the Vogue model-turned-renowned photographer finds Lee Miller relocating to 1929 Paris, where she becomes the muse and colleague of the mercurial surrealist, Man Ray.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hearing trumpet / Carrington, Leonora
“The Hearing Trumpet is the story of 92-year-old Marian Leatherby, who is given the gift of a hearing trumpet only to discover that what her family is saying is that she is to be committed to an institution. But this is an institution where the buildings are shaped like birthday cakes and igloos, where the Winking Abbess and the Queen Bee reign, and where the gateway to the underworld is open. It is also the scene of a mysterious murder. Occult twin to Alice in Wonderland, The Hearing Trumpet is a classic of fantastic literature that has been translated and celebrated throughout the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Graphic novels for NZ Music Month

One of my favourite things about the art of comics is how they depict sound. Since the medium is completely mute, comic artists have to come up with novel visual tricks to portray music.

In Ed Piskor’s Hip-Hop Family Tree, the colouring will go into a shaky ‘double-vision’, giving the panel the disorienting effect of looking at a 3D movie without the glasses, to depict the rattling bass of a sound system. In Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram, music fans called ‘phonomancers’ turn pop songs into magic spells to illustrate (without music) that feeling of power and invincibility you get from listening to your favourite song.

It seems more and more comic artists are going to bat for this technical challenge, as the graphic novel music biopic has become a popular subgenre in the 2010s. Sitting somewhere between documentary and written biography, it allows artists to exaggerate and caricature the details of an artist’s career. Mike Allred’s pop-art inspired drawing style is a perfect match for his most recent work Stardust, rayguns & moonage daydreamswhich gives David Bowie a cosmic career odyssey worthy of the work that he put into building the myth of Ziggy Stardust. Similarly, The Fifth Beatle sees the Fab Four through the eyes of their humble manager Brian Epstein; the comic’s colouring accentuates the efforts Epstein went through to take four lads with the marks of musical greatness from the grey pallor of Liverpool to the bright shiny vistas of international stardom. The graphic novel biography makes bands and artists seem larger than life in a way that photographs or concert films can sometimes struggle to capture.

From the mega-pop stars, to the unsung heroes of music history, to the fans that keep the passion burning, there’s a graphic novel for every audience in our collection!


The complete Phonogram / Gillen, Kieron
“Collected in a single volume for the first time, the first critically beloved work from the creators of The Wicked + the Divine. Includes RUE BRITANNIA, THE SINGLES CLUB and THE IMMATERIAL GIRL, with RUE BRITANNIA coloured for the first time. The world where Music Is Magic has never looked better.” (Catalogue)

Hip hop family tree [2] : 1981-1983 / Piskor, Ed
“The second instalment of this acclaimed graphic novel hip-hop history (originally serialized on the popular website Boingboing) covers the years 1981-1983. Hip Hop has made a big transition from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records. The performers make moves to separate themselves from the paying customers by dressing more and more flamboyant until a young group called RUN-DMC comes on the scene to take things back to the streets.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The fifth Beatle : the Brian Epstein story / Tiwary, Vivek J.
“The Fifth Beatle is the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary manager who discovered and guided The Beatles — from their gigs in a tiny cellar in Liverpool to unprecedented international stardom. Yet more than merely the story of “The Man Who Made The Beatles,” The Fifth Beatle is an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Brian himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped The Beatles prove through “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town.” (Catalogue)

Blue in green / V, Ram
“The dark and haunting portrayal of a young musician’s pursuit of creative genius — the monstrous nature of which threatens to consume him as it did his predecessor half a century ago. From creators Ram V (Grafity’s Wall, These Savage Shores) and Anand RK (Grafity’s Wall). BLUE IN GREEN is an exploration of ambitions, expectations, and the horrific depths of their spiraling pursuit.” (Catalogue)

Bowie : stardust, rayguns & moonage daydreams / Allred, Mike
BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams chronicles the rise of Bowie’s career from obscurity to fame; and paralleled by the rise and fall of his alter ego as well as the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust. As the Spiders from Mars slowly implode, Bowie wrestles with his Ziggy persona. The outcome of this internal conflict will change not only David Bowie, but also, the world.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Gunning for hits. music thriller / Volume 1, Slade : / Rougvie, Jeff
“In the 80’s NYC music business, Martin Mills, a record company talent scout, jumps at the chance to make a comeback album with his favorite rock legend. When it goes sideways, Martin is forced to use deadly skills from his past” (Catalogue)

Redbone : the true story of a Native American rock band / Staebler, Christian
“Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. Determined to control their creative vision and maintain their cultural identity, they eventually signed a deal with Epic Records in 1969. But as the American Indian Movement gained momentum the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward. Created in cooperation with the Vegas family, authors Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni with artist Thibault Balahy take painstaking steps to ensure the historical accuracy of this important and often overlooked story of America’s past. Part biography and part research journalism, Redbone provides a voice to a people long neglected in American history.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Total jazz / Blutch
“In these freewheeling short stories, vignettes, and sketches that originally appeared in Jazzman magazine, the famed French cartoonist examines not only the genre and its creators but the nature of the subculture. The grumpy festival-goer, the curmudgeonly collector, the anxious auditioner, and many others are his targets. As improvisional as Coltrane and Mingus, Blutch captures the excitement of live performance and of creating and listening to music.” (Catalogue)

Topp : promoter Gary Topp brought us the world / Collier, David
“As with all of Collier’s work, his latest graphic novel is a combination of memoir and biography. This time, he explores his involvement in the cultural landscape of Toronto in the 1970s and 80s, specifically focusing on the life of Gary Topp, a concert promoter and founder of the pioneering Canadian repertory cinema. Topp emerged from an immigrant background, abandoned the family textile business, and became an influential figure in the lives of an entire community. He was also Collier’s first boss and mentor. Though outspoken and opinionated, Gary Topp inspired love and devotion, not only in those who worked for him, but also in the acts he booked — including the Ramones, The Police, and the Dixie Chicks. This graphic novel looks at a rapidly disappearing past and uses Topp’s ability to see beyond the mainstream for a look at where our culture is heading.” (Catalogue)

Exploring True Crime

Do you love to read true crime? Kath, one of our lovely librarians, has put together this round-up of her true crime picks. Have a read and let us know your favourites in the comments!

It’s no secret that the true crime genre has exploded over the past few years, particularly thanks to a number of podcasts that have not only taken deep dives into significant crime stories, but have even managed to solve a few incredibly intense ones.  Now more than ever, there are many new true crime books to delve into if you’re a fan of the genre.

That said, the genre has been around as long as crime and books have existed, so there are plenty of good books to work your way back through if you’ve caught up with all the recent best sellers.

I’ve selected some that I’ve enjoyed over the years, many of them from my country of origin, Australia.

Murder in Mississippi / Safran, John

This is one of the best true crime books I have ever read.   John Safran, an Australian satirist and documentary maker, played a prank on a white supremacist in Mississippi as part of his TV series John Safran vs God. The footage was canned for legal reasons and he thought that was the last he’d have to do with Richard Barrett.  It came as a shock then to find out a while later that Barrett had been stabbed to death by a black man, one that he owed money to and had allegedly propositioned.  Not content with just researching the story of Barrett’s murder, Safran headed to Mississippi to interview all involved, including the killer… and managed to get himself tangled even further into the story while he was there.  What follows is a riveting exploration into what happened, why it happened and why on earth Safran found himself in the situation he had got into.  An absolute page turner!

A scandal in Bohemia / Haigh, Gideon

In the 1920s Mollie Dean was a young, independent woman, a poet and aspiring novelist who was the lover and muse of acclaimed artist Colin Colahan.  And then one night in 1930 she was brutally murdered by an unknown killer.  When police investigated, they found a tangle of bohemian lifestyles, abusive family and sexual freedom that was to shake Melbourne to the core and inspire music, literature and theatre long into the future.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil / Berendt, John (Audiobook)

A delicious, steamy melange of high society, rednecks, con artists, voodoo, antiques and a stunning black drag queen who metaphorically slays all in her path.  This New York Times bestseller was made into a film starring John Cusack and the Lady Chablis, the actual drag queen featured in the book.  This book reads like fiction, but it’s all true, and like the aforementioned Safran book, the author John Berendt manages to get himself embroiled in the story.  Another riveting story.

His bloody project : documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae, a historical thriller / Burnet, Graeme Macrae

His Bloody Project is technically fiction, but it has been created from extensive research into a true crime case and the community around it.  A fantastic historical thriller explores a triple murder in a small Scottish farming community around the time of the highland clearances.  There is no question that 17 year old Roderick Macrae committed these brutal murders, but what led him to do so? What secrets were being kept by the villagers of Culdie?  Graeme Macrae Burnet has used the historical documents of the time to piece together the story and speculate on the reasons behind this dramatic occurrence in a tiny village community.

Tamam Shud : the Somerton man mystery / Greenwood, Kerry

Written by Kerry Greenwood, author of the Phryne Fisher and Corinna Chapman novels, this is the story of the most mysterious unsolved murder in Australian history.  In 1948 a body was found on a beach in Adelaide, and even now, it is not known who he was.  But around him, were so many bizarre details.  A tiny scrap of paper with the words “Tamum Shud” sewn into the lining of his suit.  A code written in a book of Persian poetry… the same book that the piece of paper in his suit had been torn from.  All the labels had been cut from his clothing.  Kerry Greenwood delves into this story to try to solve it after all these years, and leaves us with almost as many questions as we have answers!

The tall man / Hooper, Chloe

Chloe Hooper takes a close look at the case of Cameron Doomadgee, the Palm Island man who was found dead in a watch house cell after swearing at a white police officer, Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurly, and the long and difficult efforts to bring him to trial.  Indigenous deaths in custody have long been a contentious issue in Australia and the Palm Island case was a flashpoint in Indigenous rights.  This would have been a very complex case to research and even more difficult to write as sensitively as Chloe Hooper has. A totally engrossing read that literally made me hold my breath in parts.

In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences / Capote, Truman

Let’s face it, In Cold Blood is the OG of the true crime genre as we know it today.  Truman Capote took crime reporting and turned it into literature.  Investigating the 1959 murder of the Clutter family and the men who carried out that murder, Capote himself got embroiled in the community of Holcomb, Kansas and the lives of the two murderers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock.  There is an intimacy to the way that Capote writes about those involved in this case that set the tone for crime writing well into the future.  As well as a captivating tale, it’s a fantastic way to look at the way the true crime genre was born.

For more great true crime reads, click here.

Comics in Conversation with Cinema: Justice League – The Director’s Cuts (Part 2)

After years of fan campaigning, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has finally arrived on our screens. The newly expanded film restores the initial vision of the auteur director behind 300, Watchmen and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and is loosely based on Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.

But there are many Justice League stories worthy of adaptation into film, just as there are many directors who would be perfect to adapt them. Here are another six picks for Justice League comics based on which directors would be best to adapt them into movies. Read the first batch of recommendations here.

The people vs. the Justice League and Justice lost

Suggested director: Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Blackkklansman)

What happens when the Justice League get in the way of real justice? Many writers have tried to do the ‘what if superheroes had to deal with the REAL issues’ story and failed, but in The People vs the Justice League, Christopher Priest and Pete Woods are able to make the real world/superhero world conflict compelling without one side diminishing the other. Featuring a disgruntled fanboy villain, a rival Justice League more interested in community action than punching bad guys, and a parody of Black Panther who uses the League’s downed satellite base to start a war between two African nations, this topical two volume run has plenty of material for a smart, trenchant director like Spike Lee to make into a great movie.

JLA: Trial by Fire

Suggested director: Sam Raimi (Spider-ManThe Evil Dead)

After trying to overcome his fatal weakness to fire, Martian Manhunter accidentally awakens a hostile ancestral personality in himself known as ‘Fernus the Burning Martian’, who wants nothing more than Earth’s total destruction. Trial by Fire, by writer Joe Kelly and artist Doug Mahnke, starts with a demonic possession mystery that spirals out into a world-ending threat, and it rides an interesting middle ground between horror story and superhero epic. That’s why Sam Raimi, director of both great superhero movies and great horror movies, would really make this story sing if he were the one adapting it.

Formerly known as the Justice League

Suggested director: Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do In The Shadows)

In the late 80s, Justice League was written by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and artist Kevin Maguire, who turned the book into a superhero ensemble comedy featuring lesser known heroes like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Elongated Man. Formerly Known as… has that creative team return to the characters (now called the ‘Super Buddies’) who have fallen on hard times and operate out of a strip mall. Taika Waititi is an easy pick for the only explicitly comedic Justice League, but I chose him for this story because he also excels at writing people with high opinions of themselves trying to reclaim their dignity in the face of adversity; think of the aristocratic vampires of What We Do in the Shadows reduced to living in a dilapidated flat or Thor struggling with his self-worth after his hammer is destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok.

JLA: Rock of Ages

Suggested director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar)

Rock of Ages is another blockbuster-size JLA story from Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, in which the JLA face a crisis on two fronts: a corporate takeover-style threat from the Injustice Gang, and trying to prevent a map of all space-time from falling into the hands of the despotic alien Darkseid. Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker obsessed with time: how we fight against it (Dunkirk), what it robs from us (Interstellar), and how we could weaponise it for our benefit (Tenet). Rock of Ages has all the sort of mind-bending space-time headiness Nolan loves to play with, plus it has a lot of good Batman moments as well, so it would be a return to form for him in more ways than one.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad

Suggested director: The Russo brothers (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)

The Russo brothers had the monumental task of bringing ten years of a superhero universe to a conclusion with Infinity War and Endgame, and if fan response and box-office speaks for anything, they succeeded with flying colours. They’re the only duo who would be up to the task to adapt Justice League vs Suicide Squad, which like their previous superhero efforts features a huge and complex story, loads of characters, and centres around a villain pursuing a gem for ultimate power. They might be repeating themselves, but if they did it twice before, then third time is just another charm.

JLA: Heaven’s Ladder

Suggested director: The Wachowski siblings (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas)

One of the weirder stories from the 90s JLA run, Heaven’s Ladder (by Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch) follows the Justice League trying to save Earth after it has been stolen by immortal aliens called ‘Quantum Mechanics’ who want to build their own afterlife using the cultural ideas of Heaven from various alien worlds. It’s a far-out concept, but one that hits on a lot of the shared themes of the films of Lana and Lilly Wachowski, like the fusing of spirituality with science-fiction in The Matrix or the idea of the soul transcending cultural boundaries from Cloud Atlas.

Gothic Revival: our selection of modern gothic novels

“Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Listen to them — children of the night. What music they make”
– Dracula referring to the howling of the wolves to Jonathan Harker.

The 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole is commonly regarded as the first ever Gothic novel and since then the genre, defined by heightened emotional states, pleasurable terror, elements of romanticism and often containing one or several of the following elements: churchyards, coffins, graveyards, skeletons or ghosts, has had enduring popularity. Some of the most iconic, popular, and influential books of all time are encompassed in its arms such as Dracula, Northanger Abbey, Rebecca Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to name but a few. This popularity has endured and below is our very small collection of modern gothic novels for your delight, edification and to chill your blood and freeze your soul.

Beloved / Morrison, Toni
“Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fledgling : a novel / Butler, Octavia E
“An apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly un-human needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: she is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire.  Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted–and still wants–to destroy her and those she cares for, and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of otherness and questions what it means to be truly human.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Mexican gothic / Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
“Lovecraft meets the Bronte’s in Latin America.” After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noem Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. There are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noem digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noem , mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The night circus : a novel / Morgenstern, Erin
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. And it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The shadow of the wind / Ruiz Zafón, Carlos
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘Cemetery of Lost Books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from the book, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell / Clarke, Susanna
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains- the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician- the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.” (Catalogue)

The secret history / Tartt, Donna
“Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is the original American campus novel. When Richard Papen joins an elite group of clever misfits at his New England college, it seems he can finally become the person he wants to be. But the moral boundaries he will cross with his new friends – and the deaths they are responsible for – will change all of their lives forever. The Secret History recounts the terrible price we pay for mistakes made on the dark journey to adulthood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and fantasy books for March

“Sourdough is basically an edible Tamagotchi.”
– Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
(Click here for availability of title).

Over the course of lockdown many of us discovered the magical powers of baking, but what if your baking was actually magical and you could make gingerbread people dance? Well, this is the fun and quirky premise of A wizard’s guide to defensive baking by T Kingfisher, a fantasy novel where Mona, the book’s protagonist, has to defend her embattled city using her unique magical powers. Other recently acquired titles include Samantha Shannon’s The Mask Falling, the very welcome release of Octavia E Butler’s Clay’s Ark,  the much-anticipated latest work from Lovecraft Country author Matt Ruff 88 names and Dealbreaker by L.X. Beckett, which should appeal to fans of Star Trek and Neuromancer.

A wizard’s guide to defensive baking / Kingfisher, T
“Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance. But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…” (Catalogue)

Fireheart tiger / Bodard, Aliette de
“Thanh is royalty in a beleaguered nation of scattered provinces pressured on all sides. The daughter of ancestors armed with swords and courage, she was fostered in a foreign capital to seal an alliance, and returned–to her powerful mother’s disappointment–quiet and thoughtful instead of brash and confident. Propped up by the guns and silver of Ephteria, a far more powerful empire, her country is losing the game of power. In Eldris, an Ephterian princess, Thanh finds both romance and intoxicating risk. Eldris may desire her, but she doesn’t respect what Thanh holds dear.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mask falling / Shannon, Samantha
“Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire. The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Dealbreaker / Beckett, L. X
“Rubi Whiting has done the impossible. She has proved that humanity deserves a seat at the galactic table. Well, at least a shot at a seat. Having convinced the galactic governing body that mankind deserves a chance at fixing their own problems, Rubi has done her part to launch the planet into a new golden age of scientific discovery and technological revolution. However, there are still those in the galactic community that think that humanity is too poisonous, too greedy, to be allowed in, and they will stop at nothing to sabotage a species determined to pull itself up.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Clay’s ark / Butler, Octavia E
“In an alternate America marked by volatile class warfare, Blake Maslin is traveling with his teenage twin daughters when their car is ambushed. Their attackers appear sickly yet possess inhuman strength, and they transport Blake’s family to an isolated compound. There, the three captives discover that the compound’s residents have a highly contagious alien disease that has mutated their DNA to make them powerful, dangerous, and compelled to infect others. If Blake and his daughters do not escape, they will be infected with a virus that will either kill them outright or transform them into outcasts whose very existence is a threat to the world around them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We could be heroes / Chen, Mike
Jamie woke up in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to his identity, but with the ability to read and erase other people’s memories–a power he uses to hold up banks to buy coffee, cat food and books. Zoe is also searching for her past, and using her abilities of speed and strength. When the archrivals meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize the only way to reveal their hidden pasts might be through each other. As they uncover an ongoing threat, suddenly much more is at stake than their fragile friendship.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Beyond Kuiper : the galactic star alliance. Part one Volume one. / Medney, Matthew
“If our galaxy is so full of sentient life, why has no one said hello? We thought of a simple, logical reason: no one wants to. We possess extremely short memories and long grudges, and the likelihood of receiving alien tools to hasten our expansion seems downright foolhardy. The Galactic Star Alliance has been alive and well for millions of earth years. Hundreds of thousands of sentient worlds and trillions of beings walk, run, and crawl across the many home worlds of the Alliance. This revelation led to many questions. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A history of what comes next / Neuvel, Sylvain
Always run, never fight. Preserve the knowledge. Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars. Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race. But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes. ” (Catalogue)

88 names : a novel / Ruff, Matt
“John Chu is a “sherpa”–a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character. Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming.  What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead–because in real life, there is no reset button.” (Catalogue)

What if? A selection of alternative history books

It is like the point where the rainbow touches the forest. We think that we can see it—but if we go to look for it, it isn’t there.”
― Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time

What if the Nazis had won World War Two, or what if you could travel back in time to save J F Kennedy from assassination? Alternative history novels offer authors the unique opportunity to do just that, take real life events and characters and then explore what would have happened if history had taken a different route. Many great writers have delved into the field such as Philip K Dick, Stephen King and Susanna Clarke to name but a few. Below is a very small selection of novels which depict a different reality from the one we exist in.

The man in the high castle / Dick, Philip K
“It is 1962 and the Second World War has been over for seventeen years: people have now had a chance to adjust to the new order. But it’s not been easy. The Mediterranean has been drained to make farmland, the population of Africa has virtually been wiped out and America has been divided between the Nazis and the Japanese. In the neutral buffer zone that divides the two superpowers lives the man in the high castle, the author of an underground bestseller, a work of fiction that offers an alternative theory of world history in which the Axis powers didn’t win the war.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The plot against America / Roth, Philip
“Philip Roth imagines an alternate history where Franklin D. Roosevelt loses the 1940 presidential election to heroic aviator and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh. Shortly thereafter, Lindbergh negotiates a cordial “understanding” with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh’s election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America-and with it, his mother, his father, and his older brother.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Rodham : a novel / Sittenfeld, Curtis
“In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage to Bill Clinton, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail–one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fatherland / Harris, Robert
“Berlin, 1964. The Greater German Reich stretches from the Rhine to the Urals, and keeps an uneasy peace with its nuclear rival, the United States. As the Fatherland prepares for a grand celebration honoring Adolf Hitler’s seventy-fifth birthday and anticipates a conciliatory visit from U.S. president Joseph Kennedy and ambassador Charles Lindbergh, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin’s most prestigious suburb.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union / Chabon, Michael
“For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal Distric of Sitka, a “temporary” safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, an homage to 1940s noir, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

11/22/63 / King, Stephen
“On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession–to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The difference engine / Gibson, William
“1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine, and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. Three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with the future: Sybil Gerard—fallen woman, politician’s tart, daughter of a Luddite agitator Edward “Leviathan” Mallory—explorer and palaeontologist; Laurence Oliphant—diplomat, mystic, and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell / Clarke, Susanna
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains- the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician- the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Eyre affair / Fforde, Jasper
“Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. There are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades,  steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! his next target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it’s not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte’s novel. Enter Thursday Next. She’s the Special Operative’s renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche.” (Catalogue)

Prophetic Science Fiction Novels

” Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.”
Isaac Asimov

Science fiction has always had an element to it that is about providing ways to explore the issues and problems that dominate our present but in an imaginative fiction laboratory context.  However, another aspect of science fiction is how it endeavours to look into our future and predict what it may hold.  And some works have proved to be almost perfect crystal balls predicting the future with such uncanny accuracy that readers might suspect that the authors might own their own time machines.

For example, William Gibson’s Neuromancer foresaw and coined the term cyberspace, plus developments in AI, virtual reality, hacker culture and a whole host of other now common sciences and cultural phenomena. Other authors have predicted climate change, overpopulation and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World predicted modern antidepressants, social conditioning, and even reproductive technology.

And going way back to the book that arguably spawned all modern-day science fiction Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Frankenstein talks about limb transplants, organ regeneration as well as the dangers of run-away technology hundreds of years before they existed in reality.  Below are just a few prophetic science fictions works we have available to borrow, including the remarkable recent and chilling The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Neuromancer / Gibson, William
“Before the Internet was commonplace, William Gibson showed us the Matrix–a world within the world, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace. Henry Dorsett Case was the sharpest data-thief in the Matrix, until an ex-employer crippled his nervous system. Now a new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run against an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a mirror-eyed girl street-samurai riding shotgun, he’s ready for the silicon-quick, bleakly prophetic adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

 

Brave new world / Huxley, Aldous
“Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent, harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The ministry for the future / Robinson, Kim Stanley
The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, post apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us–and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face. It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written. ” (Catalogue)

Frankenstein,or The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
“Victor Frankenstein, a gifted medical student, has discovered the secret of bringing dead matter to life. Gathering materials from graveyards and slaughterhouses, he creates a giant of superhuman strength. But he is horrified by what he has done, and runs away. How will the creature react to being left alone in the world by his creator? The book  has fascinated readers ever since it was first published in 1818.” (Catalogue) Also available the classic 1931 James Whale film  adaptation.

I, robot / Asimov, Isaac
“Earth is ruled by master-machines but the Three Laws of Robotics have been designed to ensure humans maintain the upper hand: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human being to come to harm, 2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. But what happens when a rogue robot’s idea of what is good for society contravenes the Three Laws?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The shape of things to come : the ultimate revolution / Wells, H. G.
“A prescient look at mankind’s future. When Dr. Philip Raven, an intellectual working for the League of Nations, dies in 1930, he leaves behind a powerful legacy – an unpublished ‘dream book’. Inspired by visions he has experienced for many years, it appears to be a book written far into the future: a history of humanity from the date of his death up to 2105. The Shape of Things to Come provides this ‘history of the future’, an account that was in some ways remarkably prescient – predicting climatic disaster and sweeping cultural changes, including a second world war, the rise of chemical warfare and political instabilities in the Middle East.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

1984 / Orwell, George
“To Winston Smith, a young man who works in the Ministry of Truth (Minitru for short), come two people who transform his life completely. One is Julia, whom he meets after she hands him a slip reading, “I love you.” The other is O’Brien, who tells him, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” The way in which Winston is betrayed by the one and, against his own desires and instincts, ultimately betrays the other, makes a story of mounting drama and suspense. ” (Catalogue) Also available is the 1984  film  adaptation.

The left hand of darkness / Le Guin, Ursula K.
“When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue – a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. This lack of fixed gender, and the resulting lack of gender-based discrimination, is the very cornerstone of Gethen life. But Genly is all too human. Unless he can overcome his ingrained prejudices about the significance of “male” and “female,” he may destroy both his mission and himself.” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

Celebrate Pride all year long with our LGBTQIA+ collection

Did you know we have an extensive collection of books that are catalogued as LGBTQIA+? Have a browse and reserve your items with the virtual shelf below. We also have the LGBTQIA+ Reading Room in our Overdrive collection – with many novels, memoirs, graphic novels and books on a range of topics.

The Wellington Pride Festival finishes this Saturday 27th of March, and we will be at Out in the City at the Michael Fowler Centre from 11am to 4pm, on the Harbour View level. Come and visit our stall to find out more about how to use our eCollections!

“Whose Body ?” – The birth and origin of the detective novel.

“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.”

-Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

When and where did the detective novel first originate? Well, the answer to this question is unclear but the suspects may surprise you.

Several stories in the Old Testament have detective story elements; for example, the story of Susanna and the Elders, where a falsely-accused woman escapes death after her accusers reveal their lies, could be regarded as a detective tale . Certainly, the Greek classic Oedipus Rex is about the investigations around the murder of King Laius. Early Arabic fiction also has several detective stories and there are several examples in One Thousand and One Nights.

Thirteenth-century Chinese fiction had a whole genre of detective fiction with the Yan Dynasty story ‘Circle of Chalk’ being but one example. Interestingly most of the surviving examples use the inverted detective story format, where the murderer is revealed at the start.

The earliest examples in western literature include Voltaire’s Zadig , Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Louisa May Alcott’s V.V: Plots and Counterplots. Works by Wilkie Collins, such as The Woman in White and Dicken’s Bleak House have detective fiction elements. By the time Arthur Conan Doyle starts putting pen to paper, we are about to enter what is now described as the Golden Age of the detective novel – and by that time, the genre has already had a long and illustrious history.

Greek Tragedy / Euripides
“Agamemnon is the first part of the Aeschylus’s Orestian trilogy in which the leader of the Greek army returns from the Trojan war to be murdered by his treacherous wife Clytemnestra. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex the king sets out to uncover the cause of the plague that has struck his city, only to discover the devastating truth about his relationship with his mother and his father. Medea is the terrible story of a woman’s bloody revenge on her adulterous husband through the murder of her own children.” (Catalogue)

One thousand and one nights : a retelling / al-Shaykh, Hanan
“Lebanese author al-Shaykh here translates 19 of the stories told by young queen Shahrazad. Gathered and passed down over the centuries from India, Persia, and across the Arab world, the mesmerizing stories of “One Thousand and One Nights” tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. They are related by the beautiful, wise, young Shahrazad, who gives herself up to murderous King Shahrayar.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Candide and other stories / Voltaire
“Candide is the most famous of Voltaire’s ‘philosophical tales’, in which he combined witty improbabilities with the sanest of good sense. This edition includes four other prose tales – Micromegas, Zadig, The Ingênu, and The White Bull – and a verse tale based on Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale, What Pleases the Ladies. The spirit of satire flourished during the Enlightenment, and its crowning achievement was Voltaire’s Candide. It follows the worldwide encounters – with shipwrecks, earthquakes, pestilence and human insanity – of its hero and his absurd tutor, Dr Pangloss.” (Catalogue)

The rivals of Sherlock Holmes : the greatest detective stories: 1837-1914
“If “Rue Morgue” was the first true detective story in English, the title of the first full-length detective novel is more hotly contested. Two books by Wilkie Collins–The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868)–are often given that honor, with the latter showing many of the features that came to identify the genre: a locked-room murder in an English country house; bungling local detectives outmatched by a brilliant amateur detective; a large cast of suspects and a plethora of red herrings; and a final twist before the truth is revealed. Others point to Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Trail of the Serpent (1861) or Aurora Floyd (1862), and others still to The Notting Hill Mystery (1862-3) by the pseudonymous “Charles Felix.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The complete Edgar Allan Poe tales. / Poe, Edgar Allan
“Including Ligeia —  The devil in the belfry —  The fall of the house of Usher  — The murders in the Rue morgue — A descent into the maelström — The island of the fay — The colloquy of Monos and Una — Never bet the Devil your head —  The masque of the red death — The pit and the pendulum — The tell-tale heart — The gold-bug — The black cat —  The premature burial — The oblong box — The Sphinx — The cask of Amontillado — “(Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The woman in white / Collins, Wilkie
“This mystery story first appeared in 1860 and tells of a plot to illegally obtain the inheritance of the heroine of the novel.  The Woman in White is one of the most eerily thrilling melodramas of the Victorian age. This gripping dramatization of Wilkie Collins’s gothic tale of love, greed and insanity opens in a London courtroom, where the main characters are testifying about the mysterious death of heiress Laura Fairlie. William Hope stars as drawing teacher Walter Hartwright, who aids a ghostly woman, dressed all in white, only to be struck by her strange resemblance to the beautiful Laura. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bleak House / Dickens, Charles
Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The moonstone / Collins, Wilkie
“The Moonstone – a brilliant but flawed diamond- was pried from the forehead of a Hindu idol by a British officer in India. He brought the stolen jewel back to England as a family heirloom, bequeathing it to his niece, but on the night of her 18th birthday, the Moonstone goes missing. The moonstone is a yellow diamond of unearthly beauty brought from India and given to Rachel Verrinder as an eighteenth birthday present, but the fabled diamond carries with it a terrible curse.” (Catalogue)

A study in scarlet / Doyle, Arthur Conan
“The very first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet was also the first of Conan Doyle’s books to be published. Convalescing in London after a disastrous experience of war in Afghanistan, Dr John Watson finds himself sharing rooms with his enigmatic new acquaintance, Sherlock Holmes. But their quiet bachelor life at 221B Baker Street is soon interrupted by the grisly discovery of a dead man in a grimy ‘ill-omened’ house in south-east London, his face contorted by an expression of horror and hatred such as Watson has never seen before. ” (Catalogue)

“Is there life on Mars?” Our selection of Martian novels.

Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?” — David Bowie Life on Mars? lyrics

Gif Credit  NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Red Planet is very much in the news at the moment with the NASA’s Perseverance rover at this very moment trundling around its surface looking for life and sending back some astounding images in the process.

Click here for the latest news and images from the Perseverance mission.

However, Science fiction authors have for well over one hundred years, had a long romance with Mars with many finding life on the fourth planet from the sun.

Some of the most celebrated names in Science Fiction have looked to Mars for inspiration and, in the process, have created some of the most iconic novels in the genre. From the imperial fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs to realistic portrayals of survival on the Red  planet as portrayed in Andy Weirs The Martian, from the dying embers of a fading civilisation as documented by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, to a future terra formed world where we can live as written in the Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson. Below are just a few of the Science Fiction masterworks that use Mars as a point of inspiration.


Red Mars / Robinson, Kim Stanley
” Mars – the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind’s dreams of space conquest. From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists – hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert – Red Mars is the story of a new genesis. It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot on the red planet, factions are forming, tensions are rising and violence is brewing… for civilization can be very uncivilized.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Martian chronicles / Bradbury, Ray
“Colonists from Earth were few at first, and most of them suffered the illness called The Loneliness – because when you saw your home town, then your home planet, dwindle to the size of a fist, you felt you had never been born. Then came the overwhelming strangeness they would find on Mars.” (Catalogue)

The war of the worlds / Wells, H. G.
“In the late 19th century, a cylinder crashes down near London.  When George investigates, a Martian activates an evil machine and begins destroying everything in its path!  George must find a way to survive a War of the Worlds. Destruction erupts – ten massive aliens roam England and destroy with heat rays everything in their path. Very soon mankind finds itself on the brink of extinction. Wells raises questions of mortality, man’s place in nature, and the evil lurking in the technological future.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook as read by Star Trek actors . And as movie click here for details.

Overdrive cover The Martian Megapack,
“Edgar Rice Burroughs (ebook)This volume in the Megapack series assembles classic Martian science fiction, including the first 5 volumes of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom saga (A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, and The Chessmen of Mars), plus six more Martian novels and stories by other great writers. More than 1,300 pages of classic science fiction in all!” (Overdrive description) Click here for details of the recent movie. 

The Martian : a novel / Weir, Andy
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?” (Adapted from Catalogue) We also have the award winning film Click here for details.

The sands of Mars / Clarke, Arthur C.
Renowned science fiction writer Martin Gibson joins the spaceship Ares, the world’s first interplanetary ship for passenger travel, on its maiden voyage to Mars. His mission: to report back to the home planet about the new Mars colony and the progress it has been making. First published in 1951, before the achievement of space flight, Clarke addresses hard physical and scientific issues with aplomb—and the best scientific understanding of the times. Included are the challenges of differing air pressures, lack of oxygen, food provisions, severe weather patterns, construction on Mars, and methods of local travel—both on the surface and to the planet’s two moons.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)  Also Available as an eBook

Overdrive cover The Lady Astronaut of Mars, Mary Robinette Kowal (ebook)
” Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Stranger in a strange land / Heinlein, Robert A.
” A human raised on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith has just arrived on planet Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while his own “psi” powers–including telepathy, clairvoyance, telekenesis, and teleportation–make him a type of messiah figure among humans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Martian time-slip / Dick, Philip K
Mars is not a happy place–a planet for exiles, drifters, and psychics, who would otherwise be executed. One such psychic is a ten-year-old boy named Manfred, a boy so powerful he not only looks into the future, but can send people there. But with the turbulent politics of Mars, that future might not be any better than the present. This twisty novel from Philip K. Dick is combines political intrigue, time travel, family drama, and all the perils that come with being the first at anything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Out of the silent planet / Lewis, C. S.
“The first novel in C.S. Lewis’s classic sci-fi trilogy which tells the adventure of Dr Ransom who is kidnapped and transported to Mars, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’ – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe.” (Adapted from Catalogue) also available as an Audiobook .

“All things are transient here below and frail” – Our latest crime fiction showcase

“All things are transient here below and frail. Death only standeth fast for evermore”
Lorenzo de’ Medici  1449-1492,

One of the wonderful things about the genre of crime fiction is that it knows no geographical borders,  a wellwritten crime book from any part of the globe will stand a good chance of being quickly translated and released into a worldwide market. There is a huge global readership for good crime novels.  And the truly international nature and appeal of a good crime novel is amply demonstrated in this month’s crime fiction showcase; in this month’s selection we have novels from eight different countries. Ranging from Sweden and Germany to Scotland and Renaissance era Italy we even have a crime novel set in England where HRH Queen Elizabeth is the sleuth.

The family business / Allen, Hania
“In the north of Dundee, DI Dania Gorska is leading the search for a missing boy,  combing the dramatic landscape in hope of finding the child. What they discover in a derelict hut in the hills isn’t the boy, but is the remains of a body, chained to a wall. This body isn’t the missing child but is identified as another young boy. Dania begins to unearth the old case, determined to discover Cameron’s killer and looking for possible connections to the present-day missing child. But as she digs into the past, she realises that the Affleck family are hiding more than they let on and that there are some dark secrets that everyone wants to stay buried.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For the dead / Bengtsdotter, Lina
“Thirty years ago, teenager Paul Bergman was found drowned in Gullspang’s lake, and his best friend Francesca vanished from her home. Paul’s death was ruled a suicide, and Francesca was never found. DI Charlie Lager is still haunted by childhood memories of a strange house and the missing girl who once lived there.
Convinced that the original investigation was flawed, Charlie is determined to uncover what really happened all those decades ago. But someone out there is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the truth from coming out.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Windsor knot / Bennett, S. J.
“The morning after a dinner party at Windsor Castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a rope around his neck. When the police begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they are looking in the wrong place. For the queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant knack for solving crimes. With her household’s happiness on the line, her secret must not get out. Can the queen and her trusted secretary Rozie catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of vengeance / Bishop, D. V.
“Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth. Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany – or suffer the consequences. During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

The dance of the serpents / De Muriel, Oscar
“December, 1889. There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police’s secret subdivision ‘The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly’. But today is surely the worst. Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself. And he tells them that Queen Victoria  wants them both dead. To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. A conspiracy within the highest office in the land.” (Catalogue)

Jeremiah’s bell : a D.C.I. Daley thriller / Meyrick, Denzil
“When rich American hotelier Alice Wenger arrives in Kinloch, some eyebrows are raised and memories are rekindled. Meanwhile, the secretive Doig family live a solitary existence on a remote part of the Kintyre peninsula, without even the basic amenities of modern life. After the family’s patriarch plummets to his death, secrets of stolen gold, whisky smuggling, shipwrecks and brutal events going back decades begin to emerge. With emotions running high in Kinloch Police Office, the team must put aside their own problems and get to the bottom of a sickening crime. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Stasi winter / Young, David
“In 1978 East Germany, nothing is as it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the “truth” is whatever the Stasi say it is. So when the murder of a woman is officially labeled an “accidental death,” Major Karin Muller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must defy the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life–and the lives of her young family–in danger. As the worst winter in history holds Germany in its freeze, Muller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between the truth and a lie, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.” (Catalogue)

These women / Pochoda, Ivy
“There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a wilfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

“Let us not take ourselves too seriously.” Our latest fiction showcase acquisitions

Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom.” ― Queen Elizabeth II Christmas Broadcast 1991

The Crown television series and a certain Oprah interview has proven, if there was any doubt, that there is still a huge public appetite for all things Royal. And this month’s selection of newly acquired fiction contains not one but two novels with The Royals involved in their plots. Wendy Holden’s The Governess provides an intimate fictionalised peek behind the scenes of the real-life Royal Governess Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford into the imagined domestic lives of the future Queen and Princess Margaret. Whilst The Royal Correspondent By Alexandra Joel is about a young Sydney journalist covering the upcoming marriage of Princess Margaret to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. However, her wider investigations start to uncover the Profumo spy scandal. There are also some fabulous non-Royal books in our latest selections too.

Rainbow milk / Mendez, Paul
” In the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive. At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London – escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black Country – but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality. ” (Catalogue)

The governess / Holden, Wendy
“The fictionalised story of Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford, the progressive young working-class woman who, as royal governess for seventeen years, lived on the most intimate terms with Princess Margaret and the future Queen Elizabeth II. As the royal governess, Marion Crawford played a major role in shaping the childhood and subsequent world-view of Queen Elizabeth II, but her story is largely unknown and has never been explored in much depth. The Governess brings ‘Crawfie’ to life.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Lullaby beach / Duffy, Stella
 When Lucy discovers the body of her great aunt Kitty, with a puzzling note and empty pill bottles by her bed, she can’t believe that the formidable woman who held her family together is gone – or understand why she has taken her own life. Lucy is determined to decipher Kitty’s final message. What she finds will overturn everything she thought she knew about her family. Lullaby Beach takes the reader on a journey through three generations of a complicated, close-knit family whose joys and misfortunes track many of the most pressing conflicts and concerns of post-war Britain, from the promise and hypocrisies of 1950s London to the political divides and risky freedoms of the present day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The city of tears / Mosse, Kate
“June 1572: for ten violent years the Wars of Religion have raged across France.  But now a precarious peace is in the balance: a royal wedding has been negotiated by Catherine de’ Medici and Jeanne d’Albret, an alliance between the Catholic Crown and Henri, the Huguenot king of Navarre. It is a marriage that could see France reunited at last. Meanwhile in Puivert, an invitation has arrived for Minou Joubert and her family to attend this historic wedding in Paris in August. But what Minou does not know is that the Joubert family’s oldest enemy, Vidal, will also be there. Nor that, within days of the marriage, on the eve of the Feast Day of St Bartholomew’s, Minou’s family will be scattered to the four winds and one of her beloved children will have disappeared without trace . ” (Catalogue)

Undercover bromance / Adams, Lyssa Kay
“Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.  He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club. Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Meet me in Bombay : a novel / Ashcroft, Jenny
“It’s New Year’s Eve in Bombay, 1913, and Madeline Bright, new to the sweltering heat of colonial India, is yearning for all she has left behind in England. Then, at the stroke of midnight, Maddy meets Luke Devereaux, and as the year changes so do both their lives. Bold and charismatic, Luke opens her eyes to the wonders of Bombay, while Maddy’s beauty and vivacity captures his heart. Only her mother disapproves, preferring the devoted Guy Bowen as a match for her daughter. But while Maddy and Luke are falling in love, the world is falling apart. World War I is on the horizon, and Luke will be given no choice but to fight. They will be continents apart, separated by danger and devastating loss, but bound by Luke’s promise that they will meet again in Bombay.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I’m just a teenage punchbag / Clune, Jackie
I’m Just A Teenage Punchbag is a laugh-out-loud, sob-on-the bus journey through the so-called life of a middle-aged woman. Ciara is mother to three ungrateful, entitled teenagers, is married to steady Martin, a man with hairy udders, and is grieving for her mum who now lives in the wardrobe in a cardboard box from the crematorium. She finds solace in her anonymous blog, and in the daily chats she has with her mum’s ashes (often the best conversations she has all day.)  She embarks on a mission to fulfil her mum’s dying wishes to have her remains sprinkled from the top of the Empire State Building, finding company, distraction and – ultimately – herself in the process.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The royal correspondent / Joel, Alexandra
“When Blaise Hill, a feisty young journalist from one of Sydney’s toughest neighbourhoods, is dispatched to London at the dawn of the swinging sixties to report on Princess Margaret’s controversial marriage to an unconventional photographer, she is drawn into an elite realm of glamour and intrigue. As the nation faces an explosive upheaval, Blaise must grapple with a series of shocking scandals at the pinnacle of British society. Yet, haunted by a threat from her past and torn between two very different men, who can she trust in a world of hidden motives and shifting alliances? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

2021 Fiction Ockham Shortlist Announced

(Image credit: New Zealand Book Awards Trust.)

The Ockham 2021 fiction shortlist has just been announced and what a wildly diverse, eclectic and fabulous list it is. There are two previous winners in there – Pip Adam and Catherine Chidgey – and it is safe to say that, as befits New Zealand’s top fiction award, some very challenging issues are explored in several of the books, including the Holocaust, the aftermath of a sexual assault at a high school rugby game, surveillance, gender and the longtail effects of capitalism.

The quality and calibre of all four finalists in the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction is quite exceptional and all four books are highly readable and available to borrow from Wellington City Libraries.

You can also see shortlisted author Brannavan Gnanalingam at our forthcoming A Capital Crimespree event at Newtown Library on the 30th of April.  For full details of that event click here.

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nothing to see / Adam, Pip
“It’s 1994. Peggy and Greta are learning how to live sober. They go to meetings and they ring their support person, Diane.  They live with Heidi and Dell, who are also like them. It’s 2006. Peggy and Greta have two jobs: a job at a call centre, and a job as a moderator for a website. They’re teaching themselves how to code. Heidi and Dell don’t live together anymore. It’s 2018. Margaret lives next door to Heidi and her family. She has a job writing code that analyses data for a political organisation, and she’s good at it. Every day she checks an obsolete cellphone she found under her bed, waiting for messages. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Remote sympathy / Chidgey, Catherine
“Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared.  Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naïve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged.” (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.”–cover. (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

For a  full list of all other categories shortlisted, see below: