“All battles are first won or lost, in the mind” – new fiction

Sketchbooksarah art drawing lorde joan of arc GIFAll battles are first won or lost, in the mind.
– Joan of Arc

As always, we have a rich and diverse range of recently acquired new fiction to tempt you, including Afterlives from the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah. We also have fabulous new historical fiction set in New Zealand in the form of Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant by Christina Sanders, not to mention Circus of Wonders, a lush Gothic outing from Elizabeth Macneal. However, one title caught our attention this month – Joan by Katherine J Chen.

The  Maid of  Orléans, Joan of Arc still holds a place in the popular imagination, especially in France where she is its patron saint.

Born a peasant in Northeast France, at the age of 16 she was guided by visions from the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine to seek an audience with Charles VII of France to help save the country from English aggression. She was promptly sent to the Siege of Orléans and shortly after her arrival the English lifted the siege. Further victories followed but eventually the tide turned and, after being captured by French allies of the English, she was tried for heresy and blasphemy, including the wearing for men’s clothing and acting on demonic visions, and was burnt at the stake.

Subsequently the verdict was overturned, and she was revered as a martyr and eventually made a saint. To this day, she is regarded as a symbol of freedom and independence and is held up as an early feminist icon. Throughout France and beyond, her story has inspired numerous paintings, sculptures, and music, not to mention literature.

Joan : a novel / Chen, Katherine J.
“1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, an unlikely hero whose name will echo across the centuries. In Katherine J. Chen’s hands, the myth and legend of Joan of Arc is transformed into a flesh-and-blood young woman: reckless, steel-willed, and brilliant.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The teacher of Warsaw : a novel / Escobar, Mario
“International bestselling author Mario Escobar captures the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of kindness in this moving novel based on the true story of a brave Polish teacher who cared for hundreds of orphans in the Warsaw Ghetto”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Mrs Jewell and the wreck of the General Grant / Sanders, Christina
“It’s 1866 and the three-masted sailing ship General Grant is on the southern route from Melbourne to London, with gold from the diggings secreted in returning miners’ hems and pockets. In the fog and the dark, the ship strikes the cliffs of the Auckland Islands, is sucked into a cave and wrecked. Only fourteen men make it ashore and one woman – Mrs Jewell. Stuck on a freezing and exposed island, the castaways have to work together to stay alive, but they’re a disparate group with their own secrets to keep and their only officer is disabled by grief after losing his wife in the wreck. A woman is a burden they don’t need. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Whalebone theatre / Quinn, Joanna
“One blustery night in 1928, a whale washes up on the shores of the English Channel. By law, all whales belong to the King, but twelve-year-old Cristabel Seagrave has other plans. She and the rest of the household and their guests-her sister, Flossie ; her brother Digby, the long-awaited heir to Chilcombe manor; Maudie Kitkat, maidservant; Taras, a hot-tempered visiting artist-build a theatre within the whale’s skeleton. Cristabel is an orphan, mostly ignored by her feckless step-parents and brisk governesses. But within the Whalebone Theatre, she is fully at home and in charge, and her imagination comes to life –” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Circus of wonders : a novel / Macneal, Elizabeth
“When Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders pitches its tent in a poor coastal town, the life of one young girl changes forever. Sold to the ringmaster as a “leopard girl” because of the birthmarks that cover her body, Nell is utterly devastated. But as she grows close to the other performers, she finds herself enchanted by the glittering freedom of the circus, and by her own role as the Queen of the Moon and Stars. Before long, Nell’s fame spreads across the world–and with it, a chance for Jasper Jupiter to grow his own name and fortune. But what happens when her fame begins to eclipse his own ? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The dance tree / Hargrave, Kiran Millwood
“Strasbourg, 1518. In the midst of a blisteringly hot summer, a lone woman begins to dance in the city square. She dances for days without pause or rest, and as she is joined by hundreds of others, the authorities declare an emergency. Musicians will be brought in to play the Devil out of these women. Just beyond the city’s limits, pregnant Lisbet lives with her mother-in-law and husband, tending the bees that are their livelihood. And then, as the dancing plague gathers momentum, Lisbet’s sister-in-law Nethe returns from seven years’ penance in the mountains for a crime no one will name. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Afterlives / Gurnah, Abdulrazak
” When he was just a boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents on the coast of east Africa by German colonial troops. After years away, fighting against his own people, he returns home to find his parents gone and his sister, Afiya, abandoned into de facto slavery. Hamza too, is back from the war. He was not stolen but sold into service, where he became the protégé of an officer whose special interest has left him literally scarred for life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, he seeks only steady work and safety – until he meets the beautiful, undaunted Afiya. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Holding her breath : a novel / Ryan, Eimear
“When Beth Crowe starts university, she is haunted by the ghost of her potential as a competitive swimmer. With her Olympic dreams shattered after a breakdown, she is suddenly free to create a fresh identity for herself outside of swimming. Striking up a friendship with her English major roommate, Beth soon finds herself among a literary crowd of people who adore the poetry of her grandfather, Benjamin Crowe, who died tragically before she was born. Beth’s mother and grandmother rarely talk about what happened to Benjamin, and Beth is unsettled to find that her classmates may know more about her own family history than she does…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Art cannot be modern”: our new fiction

Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.
-Egon  Schiele

As always, there is a wide variety of themes, genres, styles and subjects in this month’s recently acquired fiction titles. And included in this treasure trove of titles is Sophie Haydock’s debut novel The Flames. Sophie Haydock’s novel takes a close look at the women in the Viennese artist and pioneer of expressionism Egon Schiele’s  life.

Egon Schiele was known for his raw and powerful nude portraits which, to this day, still have the potential to shock in some circles. Egon Schiele, during his short life, was a controversial and radical artist. And many accounts of his work unjustly relegate the women in his life to just being models or subjects for his work. However, Haydock’s novel aims to begin to redress this by looking at and imagining the inner lives of the four very different ‘muses’ behind the artist. Though historical details on each of the four key women in Schiele’s life (Edith, Adele, Gertrude, and Vally) are scarce, Haydock uses what there is and recreates each into fully realised, strong, believable and independent people.  Haydock also does a great job in portraying the city, life and times they all lived in, capturing the radical and revolutionary air in the arts and society in Vienna at that moment in time.

Find more titles relating to Egon Schiele here. 

The flames / Haydock, Sophie
“The Flames is the previously untold story of four real women, the ‘muses’ who inspired the charismatic but controversial artist, Egon Schiele. The four women are Adele, the spirited but slightly outrageous and untamed daughter of a good family, who, along with her quieter and more conventional sister, Edith, is scandalised when the notorious artist moves into an apartment opposite their home; Gertrude, Egon Schiele’s fiery sister who is also a victim of their tempestuous childhood; Vally, a poor but strong-willed model discovered by Gustav Klimt. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Painted / McKenzie, Kirsten
“When art appraiser Anita Cassatt is sent to catalogue the extensive collection of reclusive artist Leo Kubin, it isn’t only the chilly atmosphere of the secluded house making her shiver. Upon entering the house, Anita stands before a silent audience of portraits clustered on every wall. Every painted eye is watching her, including those of the unfinished portrait on the artist’s easel. A portrait with an eerie familiarity.Kubin’s lawyer didn’t share the detailed instructions regarding the handling of the art, and Anita and her team start work in ignorance of the very instructions designed to keep them safe…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

My pen is the wing of a bird : new fiction by Afghan women
“[This] is a landmark collection: the first anthology of short fiction by Afghan women. Eighteen writers tell stories that are both unique and universal – stories of family, work, childhood, friendship, war, gender identity and cultural traditions.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Nightbitch / Yoder, Rachel
“One day, the mother was a mother but then, one night, she was quite suddenly something else… At home full-time with her two-year-old son, an artist finds she is struggling. She is lonely and exhausted. She had imagined – what was it she had imagined? Her husband, always travelling for his work, calls her from faraway hotel rooms. One more toddler bedtime, and she fears she might lose her mind. Instead, quite suddenly, she starts gaining things, surprising things that happen one night when her child will not sleep. Sharper canines. Strange new patches of hair. New appetites, new instincts. And from deep within herself, a new voice… ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The lunar housewife : a novel / Woods, Caroline
“New York City, 1953. Louise Leithauser has filed some of the best pieces at her boyfriend Joe’s brand new literary magazine, Downtown– albeit under a male pseudonym. On the side she’s writing a science fiction romance, The Lunar Housewife. When she overhears Joe and his business partner fighting about listening devices and death threats, Louise discovers that Downtown’s strings are being pulled by someone who doesn’t want artists or writers criticizing Uncle Sam. When she has an opportunity to conduct an interview with America’s most famous living author, Ernest Hemingway, Louise is forced to consider her future sooner than she planned. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Memphis : a novel / Stringfellow, Tara M.
“In the summer of 1995, ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s violence to the only place they have left: her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. Half a century ago, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house for her grandmother–only to be lynched, days after becoming the first Black detective in Memphis, by his all-white police squad. This wasn’t the first time violence altered the course of Joan’s family’s trajectory, and given who lives inside this house now, she knows it won’t be the last. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Son of sin / Sakr, Omar
“An estranged father. An abused and abusive mother. An army of relatives. A tapestry of violence, woven across generations and geographies, from Turkey to Lebanon to Western Sydney. This is the legacy left to Jamal Smith, a young queer Muslim trying to escape a past in which memory and rumour trace ugly shapes in the dark. When every thread in life constricts instead of connects, how do you find a way to breathe? Torn between faith and fear, gossip and gospel, family and friendship, Jamal must find and test the limits of love.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

True biz : a novel / Nović, Sara
“True Business follows February, a headmistress at a residential Deaf school, and three of her students, Austin, Charlie, and Eliot, through a six month span in which a series of crises both political and personal threaten to unravel each of them, while at the same time tethering them inextricably to one another. Absorbing and assured, the three perspectives chronicled in True Business are at once wonderfully idiosyncratic and relatable, each of them exploring a facet of the deaf experience while skilfully revealing the universality of human connection. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How beautiful we were : a novel / Mbue, Imbolo
“‘We should have known the end was near.’ So begins Imbolo Mbue’s exquisite and devastating novel How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by a large and powerful American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean up and financial reparations to the villagers are made–and ignored. The country’s government, led by a corrupt, brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight the American corporation…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

The soul is not a single unity: New science fiction and fantasy

the golem GIF by Maudit

“The soul is not a single unity; that is what it is destined to become, and that is what we call ‘immortality’. ” ― Gustav Meyrink, The Golem

As usual, there is a rich and eclectic range of science fiction and fantasy titles to suit every taste in this month’s recently acquired science fiction and fantasy titles. One title that caught our particular attention is The hidden palace : a novel of the golem and the jinni by Helene Wecker.

Golems are particularly fascinating supernatural beings. They date way back to the earliest records of ancient Jewish folklore. They are andromorphic beings, created from mud or clay, animated into motion using sacred text. One notable fact about them is that they are without the human faculty of speech. Golems feature in the central text of Rabbinic Judaism. the Talmud, where Adam is initially created from mud as a golem. Stories featuring golems often use the endless possibilities of the creature as a metaphor. They can be villain or victim ,good or bad ,male or female or neither and, because they are sculpted from clay, they are usually totally in their creator’s control.

The most famous golem narrative is called the Golem of Prague, In which a 16th century Rabbi of Prague creates a golem to protect the Prague Ghetto from anti-semitic attacks and pogroms. In some versions of the legend, the golem still lies entombed in Prague ready to be reanimated. One of the most interesting, atmospheric, chilling and underrated “ modern” novels to feature a Golem is Gustav Meyrink’s  novel The Golem, which is a classic horror version of the Golem of Prague narrative.

In slightly more recent works, Golem’s have popped up in the works of Terry Pratchett, in books such as Going Postal or Feet of Clay.

In this month’s selection, we also have a reprint of the 1889 visionary science fiction novel Anno domini 2000 : or Woman’s destiny by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel, plus a couple of wonderful afro futurist titles.

The hidden palace : a novel of the golem and the jinni / Wecker, Helene
“Chava is a golem, able to hear the thoughts and longings of the people around her and compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a free-spirited creature of fire, imprisoned in the shape of a man. Pretending to be human, they are just two more immigrants in the bustling world of 1900s Manhattan. Park Avenue heiress Sophia Winston, whose brief encounter with Ahmad left her with a strange illness that makes her shiver with cold, travels to the Middle East to seek a cure, and meets a female jinni who has been banished from her tribe.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Anno domini 2000 : or, Woman’s destiny / Vogel, Julius
” In the year 2000, the British Empire is an Imperial Federation apart from an independent Ireland. Having granted women the right to vote, British society has enjoyed a revolution in gender roles from the top down. Hilda Fitzherbert, the young and charismatic Prime Minister of New Zealand, is a shining example of the new woman of the twenty-first century. When her burgeoning romance with Emperor Albert threatens diplomatic relations with the United States, the peaceful world order faces the threat of war. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The immortal King Rao : a novel / Vara, Vauhini
“Will you, dear Shareholder, set Athena free? Athena Rao must reckon with the memory of her father, King Rao–literally. Through biotechnological innovation, he has given her his memories. His Dalit childhood on an Indian coconut plantation in the 1950s is as alive to her as her own existence in a prison cell, accused of her father’s murder. Egocentric, brilliant, a little damaged, King Rao had a visionary idea: the personal computer known as the Coconut. His wife, Margie, was an artist with a marketing genius. Together they created a new world order, led by a corporate-run government…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The seed of Cain / Gomillion, Agnes
“General Arika Cobane, beloved leader of the worker rebellion, makes a bold–but illegal–move to ensure the people’s freedom. When her scheme fails and her co-conspirator hangs for treason, Arika–overworked and overwrought–blacks out. When she awakens, everything has changed. She’s been stripped of her rank and power and the new leader of the Kongo, Kira Swan, is a charismatic traitor bent on consigning the Kongo under the guise of peace. Desperate, Arika reunites with Hosea Kahn and seeks treatment for her blackouts at the Compound, deep in the deadly Obi Forest. Arika is determined to regain her influence, stop Kira Swan, and continue leading the Kongo to freedom…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The final strife : a novel / El-Arifi, Saara
“Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes. Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm. Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The storm beneath a midnight sun / Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson
“A tale of revolution in a Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic, populated by humans, dimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars. Rebels and revolutionaries disappear into the infamous prison, the Nine, never to be heard from again. Masked police roam the streets, dark magic lurks in the shadows, and the implacable flying fortress casts its baleful eye over all below. Sæmundur, addict and sorcerer, has been cast out from university, and forbidden to study magic. Dissident artist, Garún, is desperate for a just society and will do anything to achieve it. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Flying the coop / Roy, Lucinda
” In the Disunited States, no person of color–especially not a girl whose body reimagines flight–is safe. A quest for Freedom has brought former Muleseed Jellybean ‘Ji-ji’ Silapu to D.C., aka Dream City, the site of monuments and memorials–where, long ago, the most famous Dreamer of all time marched for the same cause. As Ji-ji struggles to come to terms with her shocking metamorphosis and her friends, Tiro and Afarra, battle formidable ghosts of their own, the former U.S. capital decides whose dreams it wants to invest in and whose dreams it will defer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A prayer for the crown-shy / Chambers, Becky
“After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home. They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe. Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

“Life isn’t a loan; it is a payment fraud”: Recent crime and mystery books

happy old school GIF by Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski

Life isn’t a loan; it is a payment fraud. – Antti Tuomainen, The Rabbit Factor

A magician who also doubles as a  detective, two mysteries that involve libraries and a different take on the world of Sherlock Holmes — you can find all of these in this month’s selection of recently acquired crime and mystery titles.

Included in our selection this month as well, is Antti Tuomainen’s The rabbit factor — a quirky, witty, and darkly humorous Scandi Noir outing that revolves around an insurance mathematician who inherits an adventure park, and features (at various points) both a giant mechanical rabbit and a lot of debt to loan sharks.

Amusement and adventure parks are of course popular around the world, and intriguing settings in their own right. They evolved from Medieval European fairs and pleasure gardens, but probably gained the form we are more familiar with in the 18th and 19th centuries, when mechanical rides, such as the steam-powered carousel, came into play. Disneyland, one of the most famous amusement parks in the world, opened in 1955 and expanded the popular imagination even further.

Helsinki, where Antti Tuomainen was born, boasts its very own amusement park called Linnanmäki. Linnanmäki opened in 1950 and is run as a non-profit organisation, with all monies collected being passed on to children’s charities. Some of the attractions it boasts include: a wooden roller coaster, a carousel built in 1896, a river rapids ride,  a Ferris wheel  and various spinning rides. In total Linnanmäki has 43 rides and is visited by over one million visitors annually. So far it has contributed over 120 million euros to the charities it supports.

So — some interesting background to one of our titles this month. And here they all are:

The rabbit factor / Tuomainen, Antti
“What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal. And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back. But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Death and the conjuror / Mead, Tom
“In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions? Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The woman in the library : a novel / Gentill, Sulari
“The beautifully ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is completely silent one weekday morning, until a woman’s terrified scream echoes through the room. Security guards immediately appear and instruct everyone inside to stay put until they determine there is no threat. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers who had been sitting in the reading room get to chatting and quickly become friendly. Harriet, Marigold, Whit, and Caine each have their own reasons for being in the reading room that morning–and it just happens that one of them may turn out to be a murderer. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Silence in the library / Schellman, Katharine
“London, 1815. Lily Adler is settling into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. One morning Lily arrives to find Lady Wyatt’s husband, Sir Charles, has died. All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night, but Bow Street constable Simon Page suspects foul play. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, Lily and Simon learn anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi … until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The return of Faraz Ali / Ahmad, Aamina
“Not since childhood has Faraz returned to the Mohalla, Lahore’s infamous walled inner city, where women still pass down the profession of courtesan to their daughters. But he still remembers the day he was abducted from the home he shared with his mother and sister there, at the direction of his powerful father, who wanted to give him a chance at a respectable life. Now Wajid, once more dictating his fate from afar, has sent Faraz back to Lahore, installing him as head of the Mohalla police station and charging him with a mission: to cover up the violent death of a young kanjari. It should be a simple assignment to carry out in a marginalized community, but for the first time in his career, Faraz finds himself unable to follow orders. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Observations by gaslight : stories from the world of Sherlock Holmes / Faye, Lyndsay
“A new collection of Sherlockian tales that shows the Great Detective and his partner, Watson, as their acquaintances saw them. How well did those who worked with Sherlock Holmes know him? The peripheral characters — Irene Adler, Geoffrey Lestrade; witnesses to the cases; even his cook and housekeeper, Martha Hudson — what did they think of the man and his methods? Discover aspects of Holmes and Watson that you have never seen before.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kalmann / Schmidt, Joachim B.
“Kalmann Odinsson is the self-appointed Sheriff of his town. Day by day, he treks the wide plains which surround the almost deserted village, hunts Arctic foxes and lays bait in the sea — to catch the gigantic Greenland sharks he turns into the Icelandic fermented delicacy, hákarl. There is nothing anyone needs to worry about. Kalmann has everything under control. Inside his head, however, the wheels sometimes spin backwards. One winter, after he discovers a pool of blood in the snow, the swiftly unfolding events threaten to overwhelm him. But he knows that his native wisdom and pure-hearted courage will see him through. There really is no need to worry. How can anything go wrong with Kalmann in charge? He knows everything a man needs to know about life – well, almost.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rock of ages : a Junior Bender mystery / Hallinan, Timothy
“Four of Dressler’s old gangster colleagues have put together a national tour of once-popular rock bands they own a piece of: three nights of concerts by guys (and a few gals) who were big shots back in the 1960s and 1970s, and who are now hoping for one more gasp of glory with this nostalgia exhibition. The Rock of Ages tour has proved itself to be anything but a love fest: plenty of the bandmates have been feuding for forty years, and-perhaps unsurprisingly-drugs and bad behavior have created health, wellness, and legal problems for the musicians and managers. Can Junior recover Dressler’s money, prevent a murder, talk his daughter out of pursuing a life of crime, and somehow survive all that bad music?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Marginalia and curses: New crime and mystery titles

julien brachhammer illuminated manuscript by GIF IT UP

In this month’s selection of recently acquired crime and mystery titles we have The Twyford code by Janice Hallett, a book with a very intriguing premise where it appears that a book’s marginalia holds the clues to solving a mystery. The novel has already proved hugely popular with critics and readers alike with some comparing her writing to that of Agatha Christie.

We would never encourage creating your own marginalia in library books, it is however a subject with a rich, long, and deep history. Marginalia are marks made in the margins of a book or other document. They vary widely; from full commentaries on works, to medieval illuminations, scribbles and secret codes. Marginalia began before the printing press was invented, when scholars often short of writing materials would write notes for future readers in the margins of works. Medieval monks would create vivid works of art in the margins, often with blasphemous or scandalous content, such as the Pope playing cards with animals.

In Shakespeare’s time it wasn’t unusual for people to write magical spells into the margins of books, sometimes love spells and sometimes curses. The poet Keats’ heavily personalised version of Paradise Lost has given scholars of this work a fascinating insight into the poets mind. One of the most famous of all marginalia came from the mathematician Fermat, a seventeenth century French lawyer and amateur mathematician who used the margins in his books to write extensive notes. In one of these books he wrote about the theorem on how to split a given square number into two other squares, stating “I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.” His proof was never found in his papers, leading to the mystery of Fermat’s Last Theorem which was only solved in 1995.

The late 1800’s saw a huge shift in attitude to marginalia, which came about with a religious drive to make books pure and unsullied. Libraries would guillotine margins off books and even bleach old books to remove extra markings of any kind.

The Twyford code / Hallett, Janice
“Steven Smith has just been released from prison, and he is finally free to investigate a mystery that has haunted him since childhood. Forty years ago, he found a copy of a famous children’s book, full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his remedial English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced that it was the key to solving a puzzle. That a message in secret code ran through all Edith Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Isles disappeared, and Steven’s memory won’t allow him to remember what happened. Did she sense her own imminent death? Was she right about the code? And is it still in use today? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fifty-four pigs / Schott, Philipp
“A swine barn explodes near a lakeside Manitoba town, putting veterinarian Dr. Peter Bannerman on a collision course with murder and a startling conspiracy. Peter is an odd duck, obsessed with logic and measurable facts, an obsession he puts to good use in his veterinary practice. When a murder is connected to the swine barn explosion and his friend Tom becomes the prime suspect, Peter feels compelled to put his reasoning skills, and his dog Pippin’s remarkable nose, to use to help clear him…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The murder of Mr. Wickham / Gray, Claudia
“After many years of happy marriage, Emma Knightley and her husband are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances-not all of whom are well known to the Knightleys but are certainly beloved by every Jane Austen fan: Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Marianne and Colonel Brandon, Anne and Captain Wentworth, and Fanny and Edmund Bertram.  Yet the Knightleys and their guests are all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered-except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst. With everyone a suspect, it falls to the house party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sunset swing / Celestin, Ray
“Los Angeles. Christmas, 1967. A young nurse, Kerry Gaudet, travels to the City of Angels desperate to find her missing brother, fearing that something terrible has happened to him: a serial killer is terrorising the city, picking victims at random, and Kerry has precious few leads. Ida Young, recently retired private investigator, is dragged into helping the police when a young woman is discovered murdered in her motel room. Ida has never met the victim but her name has been found at the crime scene and the LAPD wants to know why… ” (Adapted from Catalogue

A rip through time / Armstrong, Kelley
“May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness. May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Thomson had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot. When Mallory wakes up in Catriona’s body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Two nights in Lisbon / Pavone, Chris
“Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone–no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong. She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new–much younger–husband? The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Vine street / Nolan, Dominic
“Soho, 1935. This was his London. ‘Savage beautiful, mesmeric. It’s impossible not to marvel at the detail, at the sheer richness of each and every scene. Sergeant Leon Geat’s patch. A snarling, skull-cracking misanthrope, Geats marshals the grimy rabble according to his own elastic moral code. The narrow alleys are brimming with jazz bars, bookies, blackshirts, ponces and tarts so when a body is found above the Windmill Club, detectives are content to dismiss the case as just another young woman who topped herself early. But Geats – a good man prepared to be a bad one if it keeps the worst of them at bay – knows the dark seams of the city…” (Catalogue)

Razzmatazz : a novel / Moore, Christopher
“San Francisco, 1947. Bartender Sammy ‘Two Toes’ Tiffin and the rest of the Cookie’s Coffee Irregulars, a ragtag bunch of working mugs last seen in Noir, are on the hustle: they’re trying to open a driving school for Chinatown residents; shanghai an abusive Swedish stevedore; get Mable, the local madam, and her girls to a Christmas party at the State Hospital without alerting the overzealous head of the S.F.P.D. vice squad; all while Sammy’s girlfriend, Stilton (a.k.a. the Cheese), and her ‘Wendy the Welder’ gal palsmight be attracting the attention of some government Men in Black. And, oh yeah, someone is murdering the city’s drag kings and club owner Jimmy Vasco is sure she’s next on the list …” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Second star to the right” – New Sci Fi & Fantasy

Down through the ages since its publication in 1904, first as a play and then in 1911 as a novel, the world of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has long held a fascinating appeal to numerous authors of adult books. The work has become an iconic representation of youthful innocence and escapism, which has proved highly tempting to others for further exploration, as it provides a richly imagined world to explore. It also touches on numerous deep themes such as childhood, imagination and the passage from childhood to adulthood, amongst others. Books such as Lost Boy by Christina Henry or the highly recommended the Child Thief by Brom have expanded and added to Barrie’s world. The only officially authorised sequel, Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, was published in 2006.

In this month’s recently acquired science fiction and fantasy selection, we find a new title joining these illustrious ranks. God of Neverland by Gama Ray Martinez reimagines the world of Neverland, where a grown-up Michael Darling has to return to save from disaster, and find out what has happened to a mysteriously absent Peter.

Peter Pan the character first appears in an even earlier Barrie adult novel The Little White Bird, as a seven-day old baby half bird half boy. Barrie based the character on his own brother David, who died in a tragic accident when he was fourteen. There have been countless film and stage adaptations of the story, with theatre productions traditionally using young actresses to play Peter. With the name Pan being a nod to the Greek deity. In 1929 Barrie gifted the copyright and associated royalties of the work  To Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, as did Geraldine McCaughrean for her sequel.

God of Neverland / Martinez, Gama Ray
“In this magical re-imagining of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, Michael Darling–the youngest of the Darling siblings and former Lost Boy, now all grown up–must return to the life he left behind to save Neverland from the brink of collapse and keep humanity safe from magical and mythological threats, as well as answer the ultimate question: Where is Peter Pan?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Siren queen / Vo, Nghi
” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill-but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid. But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her …” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The sea rises / Smith, A. J.
“Lord Marius Cyclone faces an unimaginable danger. The mighty legions of Santago Cyclone – known as the Bloodied Harp – and King Oliver Dawn Claw will be upon the Dark Harbour in less than a day, and truce seems impossible, even as the end of the world of Form creeps ever nearer. But the tide waits for no man. Marius has only one choice if his people are to survive: flight, into the Void. Meanwhile, a primal power awakens. The Sunken God has lived through many ages; watched countless civilisations rise and fall. And he will not let his quarry flee without a fight.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

One foot in the fade / Arnold, Luke
“An angel falls in a downtown street. His wings are feathered, whole–undeniably magical–the man clearly flew, because he left one hell of a mess when he plummeted into the sidewalk. But what sent him up? What brought him down? And will the answers help Fetch bring the magic back for good? Working alongside necromancers, genies, and shadowy secret societies, through the wildest forests and dingiest dive bars, this case will leave its mark on Fetch’s body, his soul, and the fate of the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Spear / Griffith, Nicola
“The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court. And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mercury Rising / Greene, R. W. W
“Brooklyn…just wants to keep his head down…But life gets real complicated when a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes sets him up for murder. So, his choices are limited–rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland…Brooklyn is launched into a quest to save humanity…while simultaneously coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments, and the realisation that the true enemies perhaps aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster–Or are they?”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The last beekeeper / Gulian, Jared
“Jim Parker, a honeybee expert, has retreated to a small island in Lake Michigan with his teenage daughter . In the midst of a Global Bee Crisis, bees everywhere are dying and the food supply teeters on the brink of collapse. But this island is not the haven Jim once thought. Someone is torching his traditional beehives, people are disappearing, and an unknown threat is lurking in the woods behind his house. When he finds something very peculiar in his remaining hives, he begins to unravel a mystery that is deeper, darker and more complex than he ever imagined. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The devil’s dictionary / Kotler, Steven
” Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn, protagonist of Last Tango, is the first of his kind-an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen. The Devil’s Dictionary finds Lion Zorn enmeshed with a strange subculture: polyamorous crypto-currency fiends with a tendency toward eco-terrorism. Called in to track down the origin of these exotics, Lion quickly finds himself entangled in a battle for the survival of our species .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“One of the most exciting books I’ve ever read”: New Fiction

Up until very recently Jessica Hansell (more commonly known under her rap nickname Coco Solid) has best been better known as a rapper, artist, actor and video director. Coco’s hugely popular style of  disco, rap, hip pop music has meant that Coco’s albums have been in the New Zealand top ten albums lists for almost every year one has been released. Coco also created the fabulous Māori cult adult animated comedy series Aroha Bridge, and is currently developing a forthcoming science-fiction series called Jupiter Park.  In 2019 Coco was made  a national Arts Laureate by The Arts Foundation NZ, and now the multimedia artist and musician has added best selling fiction author to her growing list of achievements.

How to Loiter in a Turf War is Coco’s debut fiction work and is loosely based on Coco’s own past in Auckland, and has been described as a hybrid novel with poetic rap elements amongst others woven into the narrative. The plot revolves around three friends who with wit and razor-sharp humour navigate the urban world they live in. The book  is also about a community experiencing dramatic change caused by gentrification. Coco’s voice throughout the novel is strong and clear and underpinned by this polymath’s fierce intellect.

It isn’t surprising that Pip Adam described the book thus “ This is one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read”.

No matter what medium Coco is working in she strives to prioritise Oceaniac narratives, wāhine, and LGBTQIA+ expression. You can borrow How to Loiter in a Turf War, along with a very small selection of our recently acquired fiction titles, below.

How to loiter in a turf war / Coco Solid
“It’s a day in the life of three friends beefing with their own city, Tamaki Makaurau. With gentrification closing in and racial tensions sweltering, the girls must cling to their friendship like a life raft, determined not to let their neighbourhood drift out to sea. Fast, ferociously brilliant, crack-up funny and unforgettably true. ‘This book paints a picture of the Auckland I grew up in – when waiting for the 025 to town was a gamble, and the answer to the question ‘where are you from?’ was an essay, not a sentence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Love marriage / Ali, Monica
“Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster. But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals. As Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Violeta : a novel / Allende, Isabel
“Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. The ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. As the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known, Violeta’s family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Pensioned off : baby boomers out to pasture / Dawson, Sue
“Retirement – is it a wasteland or a wonderland? Ruth, Trudy and some other baby boomers they meet along the way are about to find out. Drawn together by a love of music, they form a ukulele band which takes them on a journey far beyond their original intention of giving free concerts in nursing homes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Slow down, you’re here / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Kavita is stuck in a dead-end marriage, and is juggling parenting two small kids while also being the family’s main breadwinner. When an old flame offers a week away in Waiheke, she agonises but decides to accept. When she steps onto the ferry she knows she has left her family behind – but she’s not sure for how long.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Puripāha : Te Pane Kaewa / Ihimaera, Witi
“A te reo Maori translation of Witi Ihimaera’s award-winning novel about two rival Maori families on the East Coast, Bulibasha.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

 

The island of missing trees / Shafak, Elif
“Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Woman, eating : a novel / Kohda, Claire
“Lydia is hungry. She’s always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside – the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can’t eat any of these things. Her body doesn’t work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs’ blood in London – where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time – is much more difficult than she’d anticipated…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“I mistook him for a Swedish sailor” – our new fiction

“I mistook him for a Swedish sailor” –
Nora Barnacle on her first meeting with James Joyce.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses, one of the most famous novels ever written. And amongst the many celebrations there are a whole host of new books being published, two of which are in this month’s newly acquired fiction lists. Nora: a love story of Nora and James Joyce by  Nuala O’Connor, is a fictionalised autobiography of Nora Barnacle, James Joyce’s future wife, muse, and the model for Molly Bloom in Ulysses.

Nora Barnacle first met James  Joyce first met on 10 June 1904 and their first romantic liaison was on 16 June. And it was this fact that led Joyce to set 16th June 1904 as the date for the setting of Ulysses. They eventually married in 1931; she was born in a Galway workhouse and was a very different type of person from Joyce, having very different cultural tastes and interests. Their relationship was complex, though it is very evident they both loved each other. She said of their first meeting “I mistook him for a Swedish sailor – his electric blue eyes, yachting cap and plimsolls.”

The other book hails from our own fair shores. Breach of all size: small stories on Ulysses, love and Venice is a collection of love stories by 36 New Zealand authors that celebrates, in a linked fashion, the twin anniversaries of the 100th anniversary of the publication of  Ulysses by James Joyce and the founding of  Venice.

Below is a very small selection of the other newly acquired titles that caught our eye.

Nora : a love story of Nora and James Joyce / O’Connor, Nuala
“Dublin, 1904. Nora Barnacle, from Galway, works as a maid at Finn’s Hotel. Her life is changed when she meets Dubliner James Joyce, a fateful encounter that turns into a lifelong love. Despite his hesitation to marry, Nora follows Joyce in pursuit of a life beyond Ireland. As their life unfolds, Nora finds herself in conflict between their intense desire for each other and the constant anxiety of living in poverty throughout Europe. She believes in Jim’s singular gift and knows that he thrives on being the toast of the town. As Jim writes, drinks, and gambles his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, but at a cost to her own happiness and that of their children.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Breach of all size : small stories on Ulysses, love and Venice
“This book bridges two anniversaries. Ulysses by James Joyce was published in 1922. Venice was founded in 421. The title Breach of All Size is Joyce’s pun on Venice landmark Bridge of Sighs but could as easily describe his sprawling modernist classic, which clocks in at 265,222 words. To celebrate both anniversaries, 36 Aotearoa writers were asked to write love stories set in Venice and inspired by words from Ulysses, but to steer the opposite course and keep them short. How short? 421 words, of course.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The language of food / Abbs, Annabel
“England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When we were birds : a novel / Banwo, Ayanna Lloyd
“The St. Bernard women have lived in Morne Marie, the house on top of a hill outside Port Angeles, for generations. One woman in each generation is responsible for the passage of the city’s souls into the afterlife. But when Petronella dies, Yejide is unprepared to fulfill her destiny. Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death, but when his mother can no longer work, the only job he can find is grave digging. Yejide and Darwin meet inside the gates of Fidelis, Port Angeles’s largest and oldest cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Elizabeth Finch / Barnes, Julian
“We’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Finch. We invite you to take her course in Culture and Civilisation. She will change the way you see the world. ‘The task of the present is to correct our understanding of the past. And that task becomes the more urgent when the past cannot be corrected.’ Elizabeth Finch was a teacher, a thinker, an inspiration – always rigorous, always thoughtful. With measured empathy, she guided her students to develop meaningful ideas and to discover their centres of seriousness. As Neil, a former student, unpacks Elizabeth’s notebooks, and remembers her uniquely inquisitive mind, her passion for reason resonates through the years. …” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The library of unfinished business / Bell, Patricia
“Maurice, a small-town librarian, dies one Monday morning in a fiery car crash. Finding himself in a very unexpected afterlife, he befriends Kit, who knows more than he should about Heaven – and about Maurice’s life on Earth. Meanwhile, Maurice’s daughter Andy struggles to come to terms with the death of her ineffectual father. Tasked with preparing his eulogy, she starts writing letters to him, trying to make sense of her family’s history. As Andy comes closer to discovering a long-hidden secret, Maurice and Kit uncover a terrifying heavenly plot, and for the first time ever Maurice must decide: will he stand and fight for something…or risk losing everything? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Leonard girls / Challinor, Deborah
“In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam war, nurse Rowie Leonard is serving a 12-month tour of duty. She supports the war and is committed to caring for wounded New Zealand and Australian troops. After a few months, however, she realises that nothing at all about the conflict is as clear-cut as she’d assumed. Her younger sister Jo, is the opposite, a student at Auckland University, a folk singer and a fervent anti-war protestor. But when Jo falls for professional soldier Sam Apanui, home on leave to visit his ill father, she finds herself torn between her feelings and her convictions. As the three of them grapple with love, loss, and the stresses and sorrows of war, each will be forced to confront and question everything they believed.” (Adapted from Catalogue).  Also available as an eBook.

Mothertongues / Dovey, Ceridwen
“After sharing their artistic frustrations at the school gate, Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell decide to take a risk: to co-write a book about early motherhood. Off-colour, offbeat, off their heads, they begin – but then, what is motherhood if not messy, non-linear, multi-authored and potty mouthed?What results is songs, memoir, fiction, drama, poetry, letters, pregnant and lactating AI assistants texting each other. Together, Dovey and Bell create a collage of absurd mothering, failing mothering and moving mothering. They salvage the scraps of each other’s lives to imagine themselves into a future where women don’t always have to choose between Art and Motherhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Newly acquired Crime & Mystery titles

“Photography, like alcohol, should only be allowed to those who can do without it.”
– Walter Sickert

As is often the case, there is a rich and wide variety of newly-acquired crime and mystery titles in this month’s list; in fact, books to suit every crime and mystery taste.

From Murder at the National Gallery by Jim Eldridge, a title in which the real-life artist Walter Sickert is suspected for murdering an artist’s model and perhaps implicated in the Jack the Ripper series of murders. The premise of this novel is not without some foundation – several researchers have linked Sickert to these crimes; indeed, crime writer Patricia Cornwell even bought several Sickert paintings, hoping to find DNA in them that would directly link him to the cases. But whilst Sickert did have a morbid fascination with the killer, even producing a painting called The Ripper’s Bedroom, these theories have largely been discounted. At the other end of the scale, we have The Bangalore Detective’s Club; a perfect read if you are a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This month’s list also includes two New Zealand crime novels – Hives of Lies, featuring accountant Claire Connor who uses her sleuthing and accountant skills to solve what initially appears to be deaths caused by bee stings, and The Final Call – a gritty crime tale set in Auckland in 1979 from a twice-nominated finalist of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. With so much on offer, there really is something for everyone.

Murder at the national gallery / Eldridge, Jim
“1897, London. The capital is shocked to learn that the body of a woman has been found at the National Gallery, eviscerated in a manner that recalls all too strongly the exploits of the infamous Jack the Ripper. Daniel Wilson and Abigail Fenton are contacted by a curator of the National Gallery for their assistance. The dead woman, an artist’s model and lady of the night, had links to artist Walter Sickert, who was a suspect during the Ripper’s spree of killings. Scotland Yard have arrested Sickert on suspicion of this fresh murder but it is not the last… Copycat murders of the Ripper’s crimes implicate the artist who loves to shock, but Sickert insists that he is innocent. Who would want to frame him? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Bangalore Detectives Club / Nagendra, Harini
“When clever, headstrong Kaveri moves to Bangalore to marry handsome young doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life. But that all changes the night of the party at the Century Club, where she escapes to the garden for some peace and quiet–and instead spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. Half an hour later, the party turns into a murder scene. When a vulnerable woman is connected to the crime, Kaveri becomes determined to save her and launches a private investigation to find the killer, tracing his steps from an illustrious brothel to an Englishman’s mansion. She soon finds that sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for mathematics, a head for logic, and a doctor for a husband… .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hive of lies / Robinson, Diane
“Who knew accounting could be dangerous? Could Claire Connor’s first day at her new job get any worse? Hostile staff, an embarrassing skirt incident … But then the body of her friend Anne is found at a honey-producer client, apparently stung to death. Anne wasn’t due to start the audit for a few days, so why was she there? When another colleague dies in unusual circumstances, Claire’s firm finds itself under siege from the media, and losing clients. Accident prone and inclined to recklessness, can Claire uncover what really happened to her colleagues without suffering a similar fate?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The final call / Shieff, Jen
“Who is out to destroy Carmel O’Sullivan and her sister Tess, top call-girls in Rita Saunders’ gentlemen’s club? Who will be next? When Tess is murdered and younger sister Maxine is among the passengers on the ill-fated Air New Zealand flight to Mt Erebus, Carmel feels God has turned away from her family. Secrets emerge as the police investigate. The spotlight shifts incessantly. Hungarian immigrant Istvan Ziegler loves Carmel, offering her the safety and respectability she craves, but he has to compete with Rita for Carmel’s affection and commitment.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This is the night they come for you / Goddard, Robert
“On a stifling afternoon at Police HQ in Algiers, Superintendent Taleb, coasting towards retirement, with not even an air-conditioned office to show for his long years of service, is handed a ticking time bomb of a case which will take him deep into Algeria’s troubled past and its fraught relationship with France. To his dismay, he is assigned to work with Agent Hidouchi, an intimidating representative of the country’s feared secret service, who makes it clear she intends to call the shots. They are instructed to pursue a former agent, now on the run after twenty years in prison for his part in a high-level corruption scandal…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The vanishing type / Adams, Ellery
“When a deputy asks for help with a wedding proposal and a man connected to his future wife is found dead, Nora Pennington and her fellow readers investigate the connection to the woman’s past and the secret she is hiding from everyone.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

 

 

One-shot Harry / Phillips, Gary
“Los Angeles, 1963: African American Korean War veteran Harry Ingram earns a living as a news photographer and occasional process server: chasing police radio calls and dodging baseball bats. With racial tensions running high on the eve of Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rally, Ingram risks ending up one of the victims at every crime scene he photographs. When Ingram hears a call over the police scanner to the scene of a deadly automobile accident, he recognizes the vehicle described as belonging to his good friend and old army buddy, the white jazz trumpeter Ben Kingslow, with whom he’d only just reconnected……” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder on Madison Square / Thompson, Victoria
” Former policeman Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won’t manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way. A few days later, the newspapers report that millionaire Alvin Bing has been found dead, pinned beneath one of the wheels of his very own motorcar…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ninth Rivers of London book available to borrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

via GIPHY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The books of Jacob : Recently acquired fiction

New Fiction titles


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The investigator Kosuke Kindaichi mysteries

“Why is it that all men like to lie?”

― Seishi Yokomizo, The Village of Eight Graves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Expanse GIF by Amazon Prime Video

Gif via Giphy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still and untroubled: New crime and mystery titles

A selection of book covers from our recent booklist

A selection from our new mystery picks

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

― Charlotte Brontë,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Library lover’s day: Find your perfect match!

Image of a book inside a heart with the title Library Lover's Day Find your perfect match

Did you know that February 14th is Library Lover’s Day? Find your perfect match below, or perhaps check if any of our new books catch your eye.

Apparently, the whole month of February is Library Lover’s Month, so you may want a few more book recommendations! To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of some recent additions to our romance collection below. Happy reading!


Hana Khan carries on / Jalaluddin, Uzma
“Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Perfect timing : a novel / Nicholls, Owen
“What happens when you meet the right person at the wrong time–over and over again? Up-and-coming musician Tom thinks he met the love of his life one night a year ago, but thanks to a made-up girlfriend, he’s pretty sure he’s never going to see her again. If it weren’t for the painkillers the doctor gave him for his dislocated shoulder, he could’ve explained what really happened; but now the moment for explanations has gone, so he just keeps writing obscure songs about her in the wild hope that she’ll hear one on the radio and understand. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The secrets of Ashmore Castle / Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia
“1901. When The Earl of Stainton dies in a tragic hunting accident, Giles, the eldest son of the noble Tallant family must step forward to replace him as the head of the family. But Giles has avoided the Castle and his stifling relatives for years, deciding instead to forge his own path away from the spotlight. In Kensington, Kitty Bayfield, the painfully shy but moneyed daughter of a Baronet, has just left school with her penniless companion Nina. Nina captures the new Earl’s heart, but only Kitty can save his family from their debts, and soon Giles must choose between his duty and his heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Road to Rosalee / Magro, Mandy
“City girl Melody Harrison finds herself questioning everything in the wake of her mother’s deathbed confession of a long-held secret – a secret that drives her far into the outback, to the wide-open skies of Rosalee Station… Matt and Sarah Walsh have finally reached a time in their lives where they are at peace, but their happiness is again thrown into turmoil when Matt answers the door to a young woman with shocking news. But what is the truth? Only by offering her sanctuary at Rosalee Station will they find space to come to grips with each other” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When the war was here / Veletzos, Roxanne
“Hungary, 1943. As war encroaches on the country’s borders, willful young Eva arrives in the idyllic town of Sopron […] Longing for freedom from her domineering father, she counts the days to her upcoming nuptials to a kind and dedicated Red Cross doctor whom she greatly admires. But Eva’s life changes when she meets Aleandro, a charming and passionate Romani fiddler with a love for painting. With time and profound class differences against them, Eva and Aleandro still fall deeply in love – only to be separated by a brutal act of hatred.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiction predictions: Novels to watch for in 2022 Part Two

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

― Alan Moore, Watchmen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors”: new Sci Fi & Fantasy

ray harryhausen the beast from 20000 fathoms GIF by Warner Archive

“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is.”
― Stanisław Lem, Solaris

This month’s newly acquired science fiction and fantasy features not one but two of the titans of the science fiction genre. A newly published collection of Ray Bradbury stories. And the one we are particularly excited about; a new collection of Stanisław Lem, including nine stories never published before.

Stanislaw Lem’s work has proved ferociously difficult to translate due to his use of Neologism’s –  “new words created by Lem that are rooted in the Polish language.” He was born on the 13th of September 1921, though his birth certificate says the 12th due to reasons of superstation. He was born in the second Polish Republic (now the Ukraine). He rose to fame in the 1950’s with works of poetry and essays on philosophy, futurology and literary criticism, but it was his science fiction which often included aspects of these subjects that was to shoot him to international fame.

He held a very low opinion of the vast bulk of American science fiction, with the exception of the works of Philip K Dick whose works he helped get translated into Polish. The movie adaptation of his novel Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky is regarded as one of the classics of the genre, and the more recent Steven Soderbergh version starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone is pretty good, too.

The other books we are particularly thrilled to see arrive this month were Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune, who we recently had the great pleasure of interviewing. See the end of the blog for that and Alex Pheby’s sprawling gothic fantasy Mordew.

The truth and other stories / Lem, Stanisław
” The stories display the full range of Lem’s intense curiosity about scientific ideas as well as his sardonic approach to human nature, presenting as multifarious a collection of mad scientists as any reader could wish for. Many of these stories feature artificial intelligences or artificial life forms, long a Lem preoccupation; some feature quite insane theories of cosmology or evolution. All are thought provoking and scathingly funny. Written from 1956 to 1993, the stories are arranged in chronological order. These stories are peak Lem, exploring ideas and themes that resonate throughout his writing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Novels & story cycles / Bradbury, Ray
“Contains four classics from the master storyteller and visionary champion of creative freedom–the complete “Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dandelion Wine,” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Noor / Okorafor, Nnedi
“Anwuli Okwudili prefers to be called AO. To her, these initials have always stood for Artificial Organism. AO has never really felt…natural, and that’s putting it lightly.  AO embraces all that she is: a woman with a ton of major and necessary body augmentations. And then one day she goes to her local market and everything goes wrong. Once on the run, she meets a Fulani herdsman named DNA and the race against time across the deserts of Northern Nigeria begins. In a world where all things are streamed, everyone is watching the “reckoning of the murderess and the terrorist” and the “saga of the wicked woman and mad man” unfold.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Slewfoot : a tale of bewitchery / Brom
” Connecticut, 1666. An ancient spirit awakens in a dark wood. The wildfolk call him Father, slayer, protector. The colonists call him Slewfoot, demon, devil. To Abitha, a recently widowed outcast, alone and vulnerable in her pious village, he is the only one she can turn to for help. Together, they ignite a battle between pagan and Puritan – one that threatens to destroy the entire village, leaving nothing but ashes and bloodshed in their wake. “If it is a devil you seek, then it is a devil you shall have!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Far from the light of heaven / Thompson, Tade
“The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake. Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system–from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Harrow : a novel / Williams, Joy “In her first novel since The Quick and the Dead, the legendary writer takes us into an uncertain landscape after the environmental apocalypse, a world in which only the man-made has value, but some still wish to salvage the authentic. Once nature as we know it is dead, the pursuit of happiness fades into insignificance, food is scarce, and even time doesn’t progress in an organized fashion. Harrow follows the picaresque journey of Khristen–a teenager who, her mother believes, was marked by greatness as a baby when she died for a moment and then came back to life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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

Under the whispering door / Klune, TJ
“A Man Called Ove meets The Good Place in Under the Whispering Door, a delightful queer love story from TJ Klune, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller The House in the Cerulean Sea. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Below T. J Klune talking about Under the Whispering Door