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.

“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. 

Interview with Portico Prize winning author Sally J Morgan

Sally J Morgan - Toto

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toto among the murderers / Morgan, Sally J

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

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

Fiction predictions: Novels to watch for in 2022 Part Two

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

― Alan Moore, Watchmen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Fiction predictions: Novels to watch for in 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural histories and disasters: Newly acquired fiction titles

Image of Awake by Harald Voetmann

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


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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lot of strange things happen in this world: New Science Fiction and Fantasy

Image of a selection of the sci-fi fantasy booklist against a night sky.

via GIPHY

“You know, a lot of strange things happen in this world.”
― Kōji Suzuki, Ring


Welcome to our first selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles for 2022. We’ve kicked the year off with a very varied selection of new titles; including two from our own fair shore, David Hair’s World’s Edge and Trisha Hanifin’s The Time Lizard’s Archaeologist.

Another title that caught our particular attention was Strange tales from Japan: 99 chilling stories of yokai, ghosts, demons and the supernatural by Nishimoto, Keisuke. This is an excellent collection of spine tingling tales about hauntings and strange goings-on in Japan. Japanese culture has long been steeped in legends and folklore surrounding the supernatural world, including a rich vein of modern urban legend supernatural tales. These tales have inspired many contemporary books and films, one notable example being the blood chilling novel Ring (originally published by the title Ringu). Follow this link to find Ringu on our online catalogue.

The roots of Japanese supernatural beings can often be traced back to the ancient idea of animism, in which spirits are believed to reside in all things, both natural and created. This rich supernatural culture is resplendent with many beings, such as Yokai, which are defined loosely as strange apparitions. One of the core categories of supernatural beings in Japan (there are several others), these suspicious and mysterious spirits range from just being benevolent or mischievous to being malevolent and harmful. Yokai can have animal features, be humanoid, have no discernible shape or even occasionally possess shapeshifting powers. During the Edo period, woodblock artists such as famed Katsushika Hokusai created prints of Yokai. In these prints, artists occasionally even invented Yokai of their own.


World’s edge / Hair, David
“Renegade sorcerer Raythe Vyre went off the edge of the map, seeking riches and redemption but he has found the impossible: a vanished civilisation – and the threat of eternal damnation! Chasing a dream of wealth and freedom, Raythe Vyre’s ragtag caravan of refugees from imperial oppression went off the map, into the frozen wastes of the north. What they found there was beyond all their expectations… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The time lizard’s archaeologist / Hanifin, Trisha
“2016. Auckland psychologist, Jason Winston, grieving over the death of his sister and increasingly disorientated by dreams and visions, begins to experience an alternate reality. Here he encounters Aja, a woman on a mission to discover who destroyed her village by stealing their powerful source of fuel. 2026. Auckland suffers an ecological crisis: the bee population is almost wiped out and the human population exposed to a debilitating virus. Isolated camps are established in the bush for those infected. 2036. A time of increasing food shortages, growing unrest and the influence of ‘The Flock’, which promises a haven for young people fearful of their future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Destroyer of light / Brissett, Jennifer Marie
“The Matrix meets an Afro-futuristic retelling of Persephone set in a science fiction underworld. A violent warlord abducts a young girl from the agrarian outskirts of Dusk leaving her mother searching and grieving. *Genetically modified twin brothers desperately search for the lost son of a human/alien couple in a criminal underground trafficking children for unknown purposes. *A young woman with inhuman powers rises through the insurgent ranks of soldiers in the borderlands of Night. Their stories skate across years, building to a single confrontation when the fate of all-human and alien-balances upon a knife’s-edge. Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to scenes of physical and sexual violence, and themes that some may find disturbing” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This weightless world : a novel / Soto, Adam
“When a mysterious signal arrives from outer space, first seen as a symbol of hope, three people, forced to reckon with its aftermath, begin to feel the weight of past mistakes in order to move towards the future.”A debut novel subverting a classic sci-fi trope set in gentrified Chicago, the tech boom corridors of Silicon Valley, and across the vastness of the cosmos. ‘The Weightless World’ follows a revolving cast of characters after a mysterious signal from outer space upends their lives. Sevi is a burned-out music teacher desperate for connection, fighting to find meaning in rekindled love. Ramona, his on-again, off-again computer programmer girlfriend is determined to build an AI to prevent mankind’s destruction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Along the Saltwise Sea / Baker, A. Deborah
“After climbing Over the Woodward Wall and making their way across the forest, Avery and Zib found themselves acquiring some extraordinary friends in their journey through the Up-and-Under. After staying the night, uninvited, at a pirate queen’s cottage in the woods, the companions find themselves accountable to its owner, and reluctantly agree to work off their debt as her ship sets sail, bound for lands unknown. But the queen and her crew are not the only ones on board, and the monsters at sea aren’t all underwater.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A Clockwork River / Emery, J. S.
“Lower Rhumbsford is a city far removed from its glory days. On the banks of the great river Rhumb, The once torrential Rhumb has been reduced to a sluggish trickle. The fortunes of the Locke family are similarly reduced. In a once fashionable quarter of the once great city, siblings Samuel and Briony Locke distract themselves: Sam tends to his vast lock collection instead of finishing his engineering thesis; facing the prospect of a disagreeable marriage, Briony occupies herself with alchemical experiments. Until one night Samuel leaves the house carrying five of his most precious locks and doesn’t come back.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hand of the Sun King / Greathouse, J.T
“All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance. I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation. But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves…”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Strange tales from Japan : 99 chilling stories of yokai, ghosts, demons and the supernatural / Nishimoto, Keisuke
”  The captivating tales in this volume include: The Vengeance of Oiwa-The terrifying spirit of a woman murdered by her husband who seeks retribution from beyond the grave The Curse of Okiku-A servant girl is murdered by her master and curses his family, with gruesome results The Snow Woman-A man is saved by a mysterious woman who swears him to secrecy Tales of the Kappa-Strange human-like sprites with green, scaly skin who live in water and are known to pull children and animals to their deaths And many, many more!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Beyond the hallowed sky / MacLeod, Ken
“When a brilliant scientist gets a letter from herself about faster-than-light travel, she doesn’t know what to believe. The equations work, but her [a[er is discredited – and soo the criticism is more than scientific. Exiled by the establishment, she gets an offer to build her starship from an unlikely source. But in the heights of Venus and on a planet of another star, a secret is already being uncovered that will shake humanity to its foundations.” (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

” Ground Control to……’: Our latest selection of fiction titles

Canadian Astronaut Chris Austin Hadfield became known throughout the world after he recorded a version of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ in orbit from the International Space Station . The subsequent video has been watched by over fifty million viewers. And was even the subject of a piece in The Economist about copyright in space.

His New York Times bestselling autobiography An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything talks about his many of his passions and even gives leadership tips from the time when he was commander of the International Space Station. And in this month’s newly acquired fiction titles we have Chris’s first thriller, The Apollo Murders, set during the space race when the cold war was at its peak. It is part alternative history of the Apollo program and part murder mystery.

In other notable books in this month newly acquired fiction works we have Kirsten McDougall’s She’s a Killer, one of the most talked about and acclaimed novels of New Zealand 2021 set in the very near future in New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society. We were totally stoked when Kirsten agreed to be interviewed on our behalf by fellow novelist Rajorshi Chakraborti about this work. You can view that interview at the end of this blog.
The Apollo murders / Hadfield, Chris
“1973: a final, top-secret mission to the Moon. Three astronauts in a tiny module, a quarter of a million miles from home. A quarter of a million miles from help. As Russian and American crews spring for a secret bounty hidden away on the lunar surface, old rivalries blossom and the political stakes are stretched to breaking point back on Earth. Houston flight controller Kaz Zemeckis must do all he can to keep the NASA crew together, while staying one step ahead of his Soviet rivals. But not everyone on board Apollo 18 is quite who they appear to be.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The women of Troy / Barker, Pat
“Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Trojan king Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester..” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

To Italy, with love / Pellegrino, Nicky
“Love happens when you least expect it… Assunta has given up on love. She might run her little trattoria in the most romantic mountain town in Italy, but love just seems to have passed her by. Sarah-Jane is finished with love. She’s hiring an old convertible and driving around Italy this summer – it’s the perfect way to forget all about her hot celebrity ex-boyfriend! But when Sarah-Jane’s van breaks down in Montenello, she has to stay longer than she intended! And the trouble is, love is everywhere…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Silverview / Le Carré, John
“Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise. When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Palmares / Jones, Gayl
“The epic rendering of a Black woman’s journey through slavery and liberation, set in 17th-century colonial Brazil. “Palmares” recounts the journey of Almeyda, a Black slave girl who comes of age on Portuguese plantations and escapes to a fugitive slave settlement called Palmares. Following its destruction, Almeyda embarks on a journey across colonial Brazil to find her husband lost in battle. Her story brings to life a world impacted by greed, conquest, and colonial desire. She encounters a mad lexicographer, desperate to avoid military service; a village that praises a god living in a nearby cave; and a medicine woman who offers great magic, at a greater price.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

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

Cwen / Albinia, Alice
“On an unnamed archipelago off the east coast of Britain, they say the impossible has come to pass. Women run the civic institutions. Decide how the islands’ money is spent. Till the land. Tend to their families. Teach the men how to be better. They say the woman who made it so is Eva Harcourt Vane, and now that she has died, the gynotopia that was her life’s work may be destroyed. But they don’t know about Cwen. Cwen has been here longer than any of the buildings and any of the people. The clouds are her children, and the waves are too. Her name has ancient roots, reaching down into the earth beneath her feet. She knows this place has always belonged to women. And she will do anything to protect them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She’s a killer / McDougall, Kirsten
“Set in a very near future New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society. Full of spicy and fresh characters that leap of the book’s pages and a plot effortlessly moves from razor sharp humour to Climate fear driven sure shot action. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Our Latest Crime & Mystery Titles

“In fine, the truffle is the very diamond of gastronomy.”

— Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

In this month’s selection of new crime and mystery titles we have a hunt for the legendary Boscuri White truffle in the hills around Bologna. So, what better reason do we need to investigate just a little of the history of the mighty truffle.

Truffles are the fruiting body of a subterranean ascomycete fungus, and one of the most prized gastronomic ingredients in France, Italy and beyond. Described as the “Diamond of the kitchen” their use in cooking can be traced way back to the neo-Sumerians in 22nd to 21st century BC. The ancient Romans used them too, but they appeared to have fallen out of favour in the medieval period though there are one or two references from that time. Pigs and dogs are traditionally used to find wild truffles and fortunes can be paid for a good truffle dog.

It is from Renaissance period up to modern times that the truffle has really found its place. Hugely popular in Parisian markets of the 1700’s, they were often so expensive that they only appeared at the dining tables of nobles. It’s also used in a wide range of dishes; one traditional favourite is with turkey and, even more recently, truffle vodka. Up until recently, if you wanted to experience the flavour sensation of the truffle here in New Zealand then you would have had to import them; the first ever Southern Hemisphere harvested truffles were from Gisborne in 1993!!!

We have a wide range of other recently acquired crime and mystery titles too, for a small selection peruse below.

The hunting season / Benjamin, Thomas
“It’s truffle season and in the hills around Bologna the hunt is on for the legendary Boscuri White, the golden nugget of Italian gastronomy. But when an American truffle ‘supertaster’ goes missing, English detective Daniel Leicester discovers not all truffles are created equal. Did the missing supertaster bite off more than he could chew? As he goes on the hunt for Ryan Lee, Daniel discovers the secrets behind ‘Food City’, but the deeper he goes into the disappearance of the supertaster the darker things become. Murder is once again on the menu…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Riccardino / Camilleri, Andrea
“When Inspector Montalbano receives an early-morning phone call it proves to be the start of a very trying day. For the caller expects Montalbano to arrive imminently at a rendezvous with some friends. But before he can remonstrate, the caller announces himself ass someone called Riccardino and peremptorily issues his instructions.  Later that day news comes in of a brutal slaying in broad daylight by an unknown assassin who makes his getaway on a motorbike. And when the Inspector learns of the victim’s identity – a man called Riccardino – his troubles are only just beginning…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The midnight hour / Griffiths, Elly
“Once-famous theatrical impresario Bert Billingham is found dead, no one suspects foul play. But when the post mortem reveals that he was poisoned, suspicion falls on his wife. Frustrated by the police response to Bert’s death and determined to prove her innocence. Verity calls in private detective duo Emma Holmes and Sam Collins.  She and Sam are convinced the answer lies in Bert’s dark past and in the glamorous, occasionally deadly, days of Music Hall. But the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they find themselves in.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Harlem shuffle / Whitehead, Colson
“”Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man who died twice / Osman, Richard
“It’s the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The assistant / Dahl, Kjell Ola
“Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy. When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity. But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A change of circumstance / Hill, Susan
“DCS Simon Serrailler has long regarded drugs ops in Lafferton as a waste of time. Small-time dealers are picked up outside the local secondary school, they don’t have any information about those higher up the chain, they’re given a fine or a suspended and away they go. And rinse and repeat. But when the body of a 22-year-old drug addict is found in neighbouring Starley, the case pulls Simon into a whole new way of running drugs.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The sleeping nymph / Tuti, Ilaria
“A decades-old murder investigation has landed on Superintendent Teresa Battaglia’s desk. DNA analysis has revealed that a painting from the final days of World War II contains matter from a human heart. Teresa is able to trace the evidence to Val Resia, one of Italy’s most isolated, untouched regions. When Teresa’s investigation hits too close to the truth, a second human heart is hung at the valley’s entrance, a warning not to cross its threshold. Meanwhile, Teresa must not only deal with rapidly progressing physical and cognitive ailments, but also someone she hoped never to see again-a man who is now her supervisor”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

She’s a Killer author Kirsten McDougall in conversation with Rajorshi Chakraborti

We are totally stoked to announce the release of our recent interview with Kirsten McDougall in conversation with Rajorshi Chakraborti about one of the most talked about and acclaimed novels of 2021, She’s a Killer.

Welcome to two of New Zealand’s finest authors engaging in a dynamic, fascinating, entertaining, and illuminating conversation, mainly about Kirsten McDougall’s highly acclaimed new novel She’s a Killer, but also sharing opinions about their respective writing practices, the vagrancies of being an author in the 21st century and passing on some writing tips and hints; not to mention discussing the merits of office meetings.

 

 

Our interviewer was the inimitable, highly acclaimed author Rajorshi Chakraborti.  Rajorshi Chakraborti was born in India and has lived in England, Canada and Scotland and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of six novels including Or the Day Seizes You, Derangements, Balloonists, The Man Who Would Not See, which was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and Shadow Play: A Mystery. His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural magical realist mystery thriller set in India, that delves into the murky and dark waters of modern Indian politics in a carefully chosen, considered  and unique fashion.

Award -winning Wellington author Kirsten McDougall’s books include the critically acclaimed Tess, “a wonderful, multi-layered can of worms” and The Invisible Rider, as well as short stories and non-fiction in a range of books and journals. She’s a Killer has been heaped with praise since its release from the likes of The Listener, The Dominion Post and Radio New Zealand and is already one of this most talked about and highly regarded novels of recent years.

She’s a Killer is set in the very near future in New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society. The main theme of the book might be heavy, but the book is often very funny in a dark way, contains layers of twists and turns and is a fast-paced thriller with great characters to boot.

The resulting interview is a wonderful insight into the book, its themes and obsessions as well as both these writers’ practices,  and for anyone interested in modern fiction in Aotearoa and beyond is totally unmissable.

Find more info about Kirsten McDougall and her work here, 

and more info about Rajorshi Chakraborti and his work here.

She’s a killer. / McDougall, Kirsten
“Set in a very near future New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society.Full of spicy and fresh characters that leap of the book’s pages and a plot effortlessly moves from razor sharp humour to Climate fear driven sure shot action. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Tess / McDougall, Kirsten
“Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The invisible rider / McDougall, Kirsten
“This delightful collection of linked short stories focuses on Philip Fetch, a lawyer with an office in a suburban shopping mall who feels increasingly out of step with his society and neighbours. At once surreal and whimsical, and fired by a quietly burning moral engagement, The Invisible Rider is an antipodean cousin of Calvino’s Marcovaldo” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Shakti / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“Amid a climate of right-wing, nationalist politics, three Indian women find themselves wielding powers that match their wildest dreams. There is one catch: they come with a Faustian price.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook. 

 

The man who would not see / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Catalogue)

Shadow play / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“An international conspiracy thriller in the vein of The Parallax View— a Salman Rushdie-esque figure uses his latest novel to explain his own disappearance after a journalist’s murder   Raj Chakraborti, internationally renowned novelist and commentator, has disappeared from public view. What’s worse, the police want to question him about the murder of a young journalist. Raj claims to explain everything in chapters from his latest work of fiction about a serial-killer-turned-hired-assassin. Is Raj right to believe that he is being hunted, or is it his past that has finally borne down to haunt him?” (Catalogue)

Lit : stories from home
“Home-grown literary heroes, established contemporary authors, and award-winning emerging writers have been brought together in this new short story collection. Exploring ideas about identity, activism awareness, coming-of-age, society, and family in Aotearoa, New Zealand” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below as an additional bonus treat Kirsten herself reading a brief extract from She’s a Killer.

“Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues”: Our selection of new fiction titles

“Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues; you can tell by the way she smiles.”

— Bob Dylan

Is the Mona Lisa portrait hanging in the Louvre a fake?

This is the intriguing premise of The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer, one of our recently acquired general fiction titles. It’s a premise not without some substance as the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. The initial suspicion for the theft fell on the painter Pablo Picasso, and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire both were taken in for questioning and later released without charge. The real culprit was an Italian patriot Vincent Peruggia, with connections to a known forger who strongly believed the painting belonged in Italy. His cunning and successful plan involved hiding in a broom cupboard, wrapping the painting around a smock, tucked it under his arm, and walking out a staff door. Ironically it was this theft that was to make the painting world famous; up to that point it was relatively unheralded. He was only caught when he attempted to sell the picture to the Uffizi nearly two years later.  And since that time rumours about the authenticity of the picture hanging in the Louvre have persisted.

The Mona Lisa itself is over 500 years old, thought to have been started by Leonardo da Vinci around 1503 and completed sometime around 1517. It is now the world’s most famous and recognisable painting and is rumoured to be insured for over 870 million dollars.  It once hung in Napoleon’s bedroom and is now owned by the French republic.

Other selected titles in this months newly acquired general fiction list include Colm Tóibín’s The Magician, a fictionalised biography about the German writer Thomas Mann, Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel called Crossroads, set in 1970’s Chicago and a debut novel from American New Zealander Dana C Carver called Two Truths.

The last Mona Lisa : a novel / Santlofer, Jonathan
“August, 1911: The Mona Lisa is stolen by Vincent Peruggia. Exactly what happens in the two years before its recovery is a mystery. Many replicas of the Mona Lisa exist, and more than one historian has wondered if the painting now in the Louvre is a fake, switched in 1911. Present day: art professor Luke Perrone digs for the truth behind his most famous ancestor: Peruggia. His search attracts an Interpol detective with something to prove and an unfamiliar but curiously helpful woman. Soon, Luke tumbles deep into the world of art and forgery, a land of obsession and danger. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The magician / Tóibín, Colm
“When the Great War breaks out in 1914 Thomas Mann, like so many of his fellow countrymen, is fired up with patriotism. He imagines the Germany of great literature and music, which had drawn him away from the stifling, conservative town of his childhood, might be a source of pride once again. But his flawed vision will form the beginning of a dark and complex relationship with his homeland, and see the start of great conflict within his own brilliant and troubled family. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Crossroads / Franzen, Jonathan
“It’s December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless — unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

Two truths / Carver, Dana C
“On a wintry day long ago, Renee Morgan walked into the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe, where she met a man who changed her world forever. Now, nearly half a century later, she must face the facts of who the man was and, ultimately, face the truth about herself. After the mysterious death of her husband, Renee’s daughters – Brett, Sara and Hadley – become increasingly determined to explore the circumstances of his death, and in doing so tread a dangerous path. If Renee is to protect them, she must evolve in a way she has spent a lifetime avoiding. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I love you but I’ve chosen darkness / Watkins, Claire Vaye
” Claire, a writer, gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump-and a creeping case of postpartum depression. But what begins as a temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends soon mutates into an extended flight from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the depths of the past.  Claire can’t go back in time to make any of it right, but what exactly is her way forward? Alone in the wilderness, she finally finds a way to make herself at home in the world. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She wouldn’t change a thing / Adlakha, Sarah
” A second chance is the last thing she wants. When thirty-nine year old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son. But she also knows that, in only a few weeks, a devastating tragedy will strike her husband, a tragedy that will lead to their meeting each other. Can she change time and still keep what it’s given her? Exploring the responsibilities love lays on us, the complicated burdens of motherhood, and the rippling impact of our choices.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Something new under the sun : a novel / Kleeman, Alexandra
“East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: overseeing the production of a film adaptation of one of his books, preventing starlet Cassidy Carter’s disruptive behavior from derailing said production, and turning this last-ditch effort at career resuscitation into the sort of success that will dazzle his wife and daughter back home. But California is not as he imagined: drought, wildfire, and corporate corruption are omnipresent, and the company behind a mysterious new brand of synthetic water seems to be at the root of it all…..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Revelator / Gregory, Daryl
” In 1933, nine-year-old Stella is left by her father in the care of her grandmother, Motty, in the backwoods of Tennessee. The remote hills of the Smoky Mountains are home to dangerous secrets, and upon her arrival, Stella wanders into a dark cavern where she encounters the presence of the family’s personal god, an entity known only as Ghostdaddy. Fifteen years later, after a tragic incident causes her to flee, Stella–now a professional moonshiner and bootleg runner–returns for Motty’s funeral, finds a mysterious ten-year-old girl named Sunny living on the property. Though she appears innocent enough, Sunny is more powerful than Stella can ever know and a direct link to Stella’s buried past. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“I will have them all guillotined in Paris”: New crime, mysteries & thrillers

Bastille Day GIF

“In a few days, I will have them all guillotined in Paris.”

Jean-Paul Marat

One of this month’s recently acquired crime, mystery and thriller fiction titles Murder at Madame Tussauds is set in and around the world-famous Madame Tussauds gallery in London. It isn’t the first time Madame Tussaud’s gallery has featured in fiction; indeed, it features in the Sherlock Holmes story “The Mazarin Stone” and Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days to name but two.

Madame Tussauds the person led a life that wasn’t without historical incident either. She was born Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in France and quickly gained a reputation as a wax sculptor and at the age 17 of she became the art tutor to Madame Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI; something which was to lead to her spending three months awaiting execution as the French revolution unfolded, and it was only the intervention of a close friend that prevented her demise.

After inheriting her mentor Philippe Curtius’ vast collection of waxwork figures she toured Europe for 33 years, first exhibiting in London 1802 in a joint show with lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer Paul Philidor. But it wasn’t until 1835, in Baker Street, that she opened a permanent museum location, moving later to the present location. These days there are various Madame Tussauds museums throughout the globe and some of her original sculptures are still in the various collections.

Amongst the other the titles that caught our eye this month include Booker Prize winning John Banville’s latest work April in Spain and Tim Major’s reimagining of Sherlock Holmes called The Back to Front Murder.

 

Murder at Madame Tussauds / Eldridge, Jim
“London, 1896. Madame Tussauds opens to find one of its nightwatchmen decapitated and his colleague nowhere to be found. To the police, the case seems simple: one killed the other and fled, but workers at the museum aren’t convinced. Although forbidden contact by his superior officer, Scotland Yard detective John Feather secretly enlists ‘The Museum Detectives’ Daniel Wilson and Abigail Fenton to aid the police investigation. When the body of the missing nightwatchman is discovered encased within a wax figure, the case suddenly becomes more complex..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

April in Spain : a novel / Banville, John
“San Sebastian, Spain. Dublin pathologist Quirke is struggling to relax, despite the beaches, cafés and the company of his lovely wife. When he glimpses a familiar face in the twilight at Las Acadas bar, he knows it can’t be April Latimer– she was murdered by her brother, years ago. When Quirke makes a call back home to Ireland, Detective St. John Strafford is dispatched to Spain. But he is not the only one en route: A relentless hit man is on the hunt for his latest prey, and the next victim might be Quirke himself.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The back to front murder / Major, Tim
“May 1898: Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder stolen from a writer’s research. Abigail Moone presents an unusual problem at Baker Street. She is a writer of mystery stories under a male pseudonym, and gets her ideas following real people and imagining how she might kill them and get away with it. It’s made her very successful, until her latest “victim” dies, apparently of the poison method she meticulously planned in her notebook. Abigail insists she is not responsible, and that someone is trying to frame her for his death. With the evidence stacking up against her, she begs Holmes to prove her innocence…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tokyo redux / Peace, David
“Tokyo, July 1949: the president of the Japanese National Railways goes missing just a day after announcing 30,000 layoffs. In the midst of the U.S. occupation, against the backdrop of widespread social, political, and economic reforms, as tensions and confusion reign, American Detective Harry Sweeney–fighting against his own disillusion and demons–leads the missing person’s investigation. Fifteen years later, a resurgent Tokyo prepares for the 1964 Olympics and the global spotlight. Private investigator Hideki Murota, a former policeman during the occupation, is given a case that forces him to go back to confront a time, a place, and the crime he’s been hiding from for the past fifteen years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The madness of crowds / Penny, Louise
“While the residents of the Quebec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request. He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Surete du Quebec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture. When a murder is committed, it falls to Armand Gamache the team to investigate the crime.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark queen watching / Doherty, P. C
“November, 1471. With Edward of York on the English throne and her son, Henry Tudor, in exile in Brittany, the newly-widowed Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, is alone, without protectors. All she can do is wait and watch, planning for a time when she’s in a position to make her move. But new dangers are emerging.  But who has hired them… and why? The discovery of the body of an unexpected visitor, found murdered in a locked room in her London townhouse, heralds the start of a series of increasingly menacing incidents which threaten Margaret and her household. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder most fair : a Verity Kent mystery / Huber, Anna Lee
“November 1919. At the seaside with her husband, Sidney, could almost convince Verity Kent that life has returned to the pleasant rhythm of pre-war days. Then her beloved Great Aunt Ilse lands on their doorstep after years in war-ravaged Germany. Ilse has returned to England for her health– and because someone has been sending her anonymous threats. As she joins Verity’s family deep in the Yorkshire Dales, Ilse encounters difficulties; normally peaceful neighbors are hostile. When Ilse’s maid is found dead, is this anti-German sentiment taken to murderous lengths, or a more personal motive at work?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wrong goodbye / Yahagi, Toshihiko
“After the frozen corpse of immigrant barman Tran Binh Long washes up in midsummer near Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base, Futamura meets a strange customer from Tran’s bar. Vietnam vet pilot Billy Lou Bonney talks Futamura into hauling three suitcases of “goods” to Yokota US Air Base late at night and flies off leaving a dead woman behind. Thereby implicated in a murder suspect’s escape and relieved from active duty, Futamura takes on hack work for the beautiful concert violinist Aileen Hsu. As the loose strands flashback to Vietnam, the string of official lies and mysterious allegiances build into a dark picture of the U.S.-Japan postwar alliance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A new book from the father of Tartan Noir and other Scottish crime treats

“Writing is a way of sharing our humanity.”
― William McIlvanney (1936 –2015)

The much-vaulted sub-genre of Tartan Noir (which is now occasionally humorously and affectionately maligned) has some very strong entries in this month’s recently acquired crime, mystery and thriller selection, including books from several luminaries such as the Modern Queen of Crime Val McDermid. There’s also a new book from Ian Rankin that takes up the reins from the father of “Tartan Noir”, William McIlvanney. In The Dark Remains Ian completes an unfinished manuscript from William McIlvanney’s archives. The resulting novel brings evocatively to life William McIlvanney’s unique writing style and richly evokes the grimy world of Scotland in the 1970’s as, incidentally, does Val McDermid’s superb 1979.

In many ways William McIlvanney was the pioneering author who trailblazed the path for many modern Scottish crime writers to follow. There’s also a new work from the fabulous  Alex Grey called Before the Storm, a truly gripping read that has plot elements that move between both Zimbabwe and Glasgow.

Other title highlights include a wonderful new (already widely acclaimed)  New Zealand  crime voice  Anne Harré and her debut novel The Leaning Man, set in Wellington with  vivid descriptions of the city itself and  includes scenes in our very own Te Awe Library; it is a compulsive and page-turning read. Keep a close eye out for our upcoming exclusive interview with Anne Harré in conversation with Dame Fiona Kidman!

You can also watch  Professor Val McDermid talk exclusively to us in the interview at the end of this blog, which includes a section on some of her creative thoughts behind 1979.

The dark remains / McIlvanney, William
“Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow? DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

1979 / McDermid, Val
“1979. It is the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys’ club to take her seriously. Soon Allie and fellow journalist Danny Sullivan are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies – and Allie won’t stop there. When she discovers a home-grown terrorist threat, Allie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the group and make her name. But she’s a woman in a man’s world… and putting a foot wrong could be fatal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Before the storm / Gray, Alex
“Inspector Daniel Kohi of the Zimbabwean police force returns home one night to find his worst nightmare has been realised. His family dead, his house destroyed, and in fear for his life, he is forced to flee the country he loves. Far away in Glasgow, DSI William Lorimer has his hands full. Christmas is approaching, the city is bustling, and whilst the homicide rate has been relatively low, something much darker is brewing. Counter-Terrorism have got wind of a plot, here in Lorimer’s native city, to carry out an unspeakable atrocity on Christmas Eve. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
 

The Moorland murderers / Jecks, Michael
“July, 1556. En route to France and escape from Queen Mary’s men, Jack Blackjack decides to spend the night at a Devon tavern, agrees to a game of dice – and ends up accused of murder. To make matters worse, the dead man turns out to have been the leader of the all-powerful miners who rule the surrounding moors – and they have no intention of waiting for the official court verdict to determine Jack’s guilt. But who would frame Jack for murder . . . and why?  As Jack’s attempts to find answers stirs up a hornet’s nest of warring factions within the town, events soon start to spiral out of control . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 
The distant dead / Thomson, Lesley
“London, 1940. Several neighbours heard the scream of the woman in the bombed-out house. One told the detective she thought the lady had seen a mouse. Another said it wasn’t his business what went on behind closed doors. None of them imagined that a trusting young woman was being strangled by her lover… Tewkesbury, 2020. Beneath the vast stone arches of Tewkesbury Abbey, a man lies bleeding, close to death. He is the creator of a true-crime podcast which now will never air. He was investigating the murder of a 1940s police pathologist – had he come closer to the truth than he realised? (Adapted from Catalogue)

The royal secret / Taylor, Andrew
“Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate – but the task brings unexpected dangers. Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells of blood and a captive Barbary lion prowls the stables. Then a prestigious new commission arrives. Cat must design a Poultry House for the woman that the King loves most in all the world. Unbeknownst to all, at the heart of this lies a royal secret so explosive that it could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe…”- (Adapted from Catalogue)

 
In the crypt with a candlestick / Waugh, Daisy
“Sir Ecgbert Tode of Tode Hall has survived to a grand old age – much to the despair of his younger wife, Emma. But at ninety-three he has, at last, shuffled off the mortal coil. Emma, Lady Tode, thoroughly fed up with being a dutiful Lady of the Manor, wants to leave the country to spend her remaining years in Capri. Unfortunately her three tiresome children are either unwilling or unable (too mad, too lefty or too happy in Australia) to take on management of their large and important home, so the mantle passes to a distant relative and his glamorous wife. Not long after the new owners take over, Lady Tode is found dead in the mausoleum. Accident? Or is there more going on behind the scenes of Tode Hall…?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“Wellington. The land dips and rolls, the wind has a life of its own. Dig a little deeper and the city is unforgiving and unrepentant. Forget the politicians, they’re poor amateurs in deception and crime. It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. Once shoulder-tapped as detective material, a few bad decisions and a questionable ethical dilemma saw her leave the force under a cloud. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Historical Fantasy and beyond: new Science Fiction and Fantasy

“A library of books is the fairest garden in the world, and to walk there is an ecstasy.”

― E. Powys Mathers, The Arabian Nights

Historical fantasy is a genre of fantasy where fantastic elements such as magic are incorporated into a realistic often historical narrative. The genre is one of the oldest forms of fiction around with many early examples such as One Thousand and One Nights and spans a wide diversity of cultures and time periods. These days the genre itself is split into numerous sub genres from wuxia (a martial arts version of historical fantasy) to gunpowder fantasy (an offshoot of Steampunk), prehistoric fantasy to Celtic fantasy.

If you are unfamiliar with this genre just a few recommended titles are Diana Wynne Jones’ Castle in the Air, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.

And this month’s newly acquired selection of science fiction and fantasy titles have two very fine examples of this genre – She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, set in China in 1345, and A Radical Act of Free Magic by the fabulous Aotearoa / New Zealand author H.G. Parry, set during the time of the Napoleonic war (you can hear H.G. Parry talk exclusively to us about this novel by clicking the link below.) We also have a very small selection of  non historical fantasy newly-acquired science fiction and fantasy titles as well.

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, protected by the gulf of the channel and powerful fire-magic, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly fearful and repressive government. But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She who became the sun / Parker-Chan, Shelley
” 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. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. …..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A song of flight / Marillier, Juliet
“After a violent encounter with masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, Prince Aolu of Dalriada disappears without a trace, and his companion Galen is seriously injured. Liobhan and the Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince’s abduction. For Liobhan this mission is personal, as Galen is her beloved brother. While she and her team investigate, Liobhan’s younger brother Brocc is in serious trouble. Brocc’s secret attempt to communicate with the Crow Folk triggers a shocking incident, and sends him on a path which endangers the one he loves above all else. What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who plots to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Paris by starlight / Dinsdale, Robert
“Every night on their long journey to Paris from their troubled homeland, Levon’s grandmother has read to them from a very special book. Called The Nocturne, it is a book full of fairy stories and the heroic adventures of their people who generations before chose to live by starlight. And with every story that Levon’s grandmother tells them in their new home, the desire to live as their ancestors did grows. And that is when the magic begins…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Thread needle / Thomas, Cari
“Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic. Magic is the first sin. It must be bound. Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly. It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. ………..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the watchful city / Lu, S. Qiouyi
“The city of Ora is watching. Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with surveilling and protecting Ora’s citizens via a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from harm. When a mysterious outsider enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around with the world with a story attached to each item, Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places–and possibilities–æ never before imagined to exist. But such knowledge leaves Anima with a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The past is red / Valente, Catherynne M.
” The future is blue. Endless blue… except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown. Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time. But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Notes from the burning age / North, Claire
“Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age–a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated. But when the revolutionary Brotherhood approaches Ven, pressuring him to translate stolen writings that threaten everything he once held dear, his life will be turned upside down. Torn between friendship and faith, Ven must decide how far he’s willing to go to save this new world–and how much he is willing to lose” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Only Living Lady Parachutist: interview with author Catherine Clarke

Image of Leila Adair during her tour of Aotearoa New Zealand in 1894,
courtesy of Palmerston North City Library

The Only Living Lady Parachutist is a remarkable novel by Catherine Clarke based in fact about aerial acrobat daredevil, Lillian (aka Leila Adair). Leila was a smoke balloonist who was billed on flyers of the time as ‘The Aerial Queen’; she toured New Zealand in 1894 and her performance included aerial acrobatics followed by death-defying parachute jumps from her balloon.  A risky endeavour at the best of times, and one that was often fraught with danger. Catherine’s book takes much of the historical information available about Leila and turns it into a compelling, fascinating, fictional page-turner of a read.

As well as being a compulsive read, the book is a fascinating insight into New Zealand and the wider world of the time, not to mention society’s perceptions of pioneering daredevil women who pushed the boundaries of what was perceived as acceptable for the time.

So, for your delight and edification, this is our exclusive, in-depth interview with Catherine Clarke, where she talks about her novel in detail, the fascinating historical and societal context behind aerial acrobats of the time, her research methods and a whole host of other topics. For anyone interested in New Zealand history, or how to create captivating historical based fiction, the interview is unmissable.

Continue reading “The Only Living Lady Parachutist: interview with author Catherine Clarke”

“Anger is an energy” – John Lydon: books inspired by punk

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
― John Lydon

With John Lydon in court recently railing against the use of The Sex Pistols music in the upcoming Danny Boyle directed Disney series ‘Pistol’, based on Steve Cook’s memoir “Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol”, we thought now might be a good time to look at the legacy of punk in literature.

Punk was the incendiary music and fashion movement that exploded into the public’s attention in the 1970’s and is one of the most recognisable modern movements. Its lasting effects on our culture are huge but sometimes difficult to exactly pin down.  The D.I.Y ethos certainly inspired a generation to get up and do something. The old notion that you had to follow certain traditional paths to achieve your goals was debunked forever and replaced by one of self-reliance.

But beyond that, its influences are much more nebulous. It has now entered a point where punk music and books set in the 70’s and 80’s are regarded more as historical artefacts than revolutionary manifestos. And recently there have been a couple of really fine examples of works originating here in New Zealand that have their conceptual focus round the punk movement, such as David Coventry’s Ngaio Marsh longlisted Dance Prone, set in America in the 1980’s with a plot that follows a touring punk band and Anthony Sang’s compelling graphic novel The Dharma Punks.  Below are just a few other books inspired by punk available to borrow from the library.

Dance prone / Coventry, David
“During their 1985 tour, two events of hatred and stupidity forever change the lives of a band’s four members. Neues Bauen, a post-hardcore Illinois group homing in on their own small fame, head on with frontman Conrad Wells sexually assaulted and guitarist Tone Seburg wounded by gunshot. The band staggers forth into the American landscape, traversing time and investigating each of their relationships with history, memory, authenticity, violence and revelling in transcendence through the act of art.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The dharma punks / Sang, Anthony
“Auckland, New Zealand, 1994. A group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb in the restaurant the night before the opening, but when he is separated from his accomplice, Tracy, the night takes the first of many unexpected turns. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Blood and Guts in High School, Kathy Acker (ebook)
“Janey undergoes, as if in a fairytale, a nightmare journey of exploitation – first incest, then abortions, a job selling cookies to the chi-chi bourgois of Brooklyn, a one-sided love affair with the leader of punk gang THE SCORPIONS, and finally is sold into the white slave trade in the middle east. Along the way she grapples with the cultural message of The Scarlet Letter, falls in love with Jean Genet, and angrily ridicules Erica Jong . Blood and Guts in High School has lost none of its power to shock.”(Overdrive description)

Black hole / Burns, Charles
“A strange plague has descended upon Seattles teenagers.The disease is manifested in any number of ways–from the hideously grotesque to the subtle. “Black Hole” explores a specific American cultural moment in flux and the kids who are caught in it. Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s.  As hypnotically beautiful as it is horrifying, Black Hole transcends its genre by deftly exploring a specific American cultural moment in flux and the kids who are caught in it- back when it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie anymore, but Bowie was still just a little too weird. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A visit from the Goon Squad / Egan, Jennifer
“Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and record executive, and the beautiful Sasha, the troubled young woman he employs, never discover each other’s pasts, but the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other people whose paths intersect with theirs in the course of nearly fifty years. A Visit from the Goon Squad is about time, about survival, about our private terrors, and what happens when we fail to rebound.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The singer / Unsworth, Cathi
” The legend goes like this: Vincent Smith met bandmates Stevie Mullin and Lynton Powell at a Sex Pistols concert. Together they formed Blood Simple, and for a while they made a lot of noise, a bit of money and caused a sensation wherever they went. Then Vincent eloped with Sylvana, and it all went wrong. Six months later Sylvana committed suicide, the band fell apart, and Vincent disappeared. That was 1981 and twenty years on, journalist Eddie Bracknell hopes the story of Blood Simple will be the making of him but he can’t work out what happened to Vincent.” (Catalogue)

England’s dreaming : anarchy, Sex Pistols, punk rock, and beyond / Savage, Jon
“England’s Dreaming is the ultimate book on punk, its progenitors, the Sex Pistols, and the moment they defined for music fans in England and the United States. Savage brings to life the sensational story of the meteoric rise and rapid implosion of the Pistols through layers of rich detail, exclusive interviews, and rare photographs. This fully revised and updated edition of the book covers the legacy of punk twenty-five years later and provides an account of the Pistols’ 1996 reunion as well as a freshly updated discography and a completely new introduction.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rotten : no Irish, no blacks, no dogs : the authorized autobiography, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols / Lydon, John
“In Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, John Lydon (aka Rotten) looks back at himself, the Pistols and the ‘no future’ disaffection of their time. More than just a music book, Rotten is a history of punk: angry, witty, poignant and crackling with energy. Malcolm McClaren, Sid Vicious, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, the Britain of the late ’70s, the Pistols’ creation and collapse – all are here, as one of punk’s foremost protagonists brings us perhaps the best book ever written about youth culture. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Enduring Popularity, and Many Faces and Films, of Agatha Christie

“Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory—let the theory go.”
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

smile GIF

Agatha Christie’s books have for a long time been amongst the most popular books borrowed in libraries throughout the world and continue to be so even to this day, with book sales to match. She is the best-selling novelist of all time, selling a staggering 300 million books during her lifetime and a mind boggling estimated two billion to date. With such huge popularity it is no surprise that film makers rushed to her door looking for novels to adapt into scripts, though Agatha Christie herself famously said “My chief dislikes are crowds, loud noises, gramophones and cinemas.”

She grew up in an upper middle-class family in Torquay, a quiet, self-contained but happy child. Her first attempts at getting published were initially unsuccessful, however her luck changed in 1920 with the publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first book to feature one of her most successful detective creations Hercule Poirot. And from that point on her books just grew and grew in popularity.

The first film adaptation of her work was The Passing of Mr. Quinn in 1928 and many film adaptations throughout the years followed, with a new version of Death on the Nile scheduled to be released in 2022.

Most of the films feature one or other of Christie’s two big name detectives, Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple who have both been played by a wide variety of actors and actresses who have of course all brought their own style and approach to the characters. And it goes almost without saying that these films and television programmes have all reflected the times they were made (even if they had a historical backdrop).  From the cosy black and white, very British comic Miss Marple films of the 1960’s, starring Dame Margaret Rutherford, to the star-studded mega block buster Peter Ustinov films of the late 70’s and early 80’s. And then there is the highly unlikely (you have to see it to believe it) Arnold Schwarzenegger action thriller Sabotage, based on her And Then There Were None novel.  Not to mention the recent slickly-produced modern movies by Kenneth Branagh and the often more nuanced and measured television adaptations, such as the superb Joan Bogle Hickson BBC series.

Below is just a small selection of the Agatha Christie books, films and television series we have on offer.

Death on the Nile / Christie, Agatha
” The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting’ nothing is ever quite what it seems…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Click  here for the 1978 star studded  Peter Ustinov film.

Murder on the Orient Express / Christie, Agatha
” Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Click here for the 1976 version starring Albert Finney and here for the 2017 Kenneth Branagh version.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
” Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue). Click here for the availability of Sabotage, the Arnold Schwarzenegger action thriller based on And Then There Were None.

Evil under the sun / Christie, Agatha
” It was not unusual to find the beautiful bronzed body of the sun-loving Arlena Stuart stretched out on a beach, face down. Only, on this occasion, there was no sun… she had been strangled. Ever since Arlena’s arrival at the resort, Hercule Poirot had detected sexual tension in the seaside air. But could this apparent ‘crime of passion’ have been something more evil and premeditated altogether?” (Adapted from Catalogue). Click here forthe film starring Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin, James Mason and Diana Rigg amongst others.

Why didn’t they ask Evans? / Christie, Agatha
“During a round of golf on a cliff-top course in Wales, Bobby Jones discovers a man lying gravely injured on the rocks below. His last words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?,” two adventurous friends decide to find his killer…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Click here for the availability of the 1980 film which coincidently has Joan Hickson as  Mrs. Rivington before her time playing Miss Marple.

 

The body in the library / Christie, Agatha
“When the Bantrys wake to find the body of a beautiful young stranger in their library, Dolly Bantry knows there’s only one person to call: her old friend Miss Marple.” (Catalogue) Click here for the first series of Miss Marple Starring Joan Hickson, here for the second, here for the third  and here for the fourth.

 

The adventure of the Christmas pudding : and a selection of entrees / Christie, Agatha
“First came a sinister warning to Poirot not to eat any plum pudding … then the discovery of a corpse in a chest … next, an overheard quarrel that led to murder … the strange case of the dead man who altered his eating habits … and the puzzle of the victim who dreamt his own suicide. What links these five baffling cases? The little grey cells of Monsieur Hercule Poirot!” (Adapted from Catalogue) Click here for the availability of  first series of Hercule Poirot starring David Suchet, here for the second, here for the third and here for all our other numerous David Suchet,  Hercule Poirot items.

An autobiography / Christie, Agatha
“Agatha Christie’s ‘most absorbing mystery’ – her own autobiography, with new exclusive CD containing newly discovered priceless recordings of Agatha dictating excerpts from more than 40 years ago.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Click here for the availability of Agatha Christie’s garden : murder & mystery in Devon. A fascinating documentary about Agatha Christie’s personal Devon retreat Greenway which she described as   “the loveliest place in the world”

The long shadow of Frank Herbert’s Dune

Oscar Isaac Dune GIF by Nerdist.com

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense, But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
– Frank Herbert, Dune.

On its first publication in 1965, Dune was originally released as two separate serials in the legendary ‘Analog’ magazine. And even more strangely, the novel’s first combined print publication was by Chilton publishing, a publishing house that up to that point had only published automobile repair manuals. However, the remarkable nature of the novel was quickly recognised and the following year the book won both the Hugo and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. And since its publication it has gone on to become the world’s bestselling science fiction book, as well as being regarded by some critics as the best science fiction book ever written.

Dune fever has reignited recently with the forthcoming release of the much delayed, much anticipated and already critically acclaimed Denis Villeneuve movie.

Continue reading “The long shadow of Frank Herbert’s Dune”