Ask Ben Aaronovitch a question

The Rivers of London graphic novel series stand alone from the novels, featuring brand new stories. However the graphic novels have very much the same tone, feel and character as the novels.  One important difference is that in the graphic novels Ben collaborates with Andrew Cartmel, who he initially worked with on Doctor Who.

One suspects that Ben and Andrew’s previous experience in television will help considerably in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s upcoming television adaption of the Rivers of London books.

And we are thrilled that in October Ben has agreed to do a pre-recorded Question and Answer online event–and we need your questions ideally by the end of this month.

So if you’ve ever wanted to ask Ben Aaronovitch a question, now’s your chance!

Simply send us your questions via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email until 30 September, and we’ll do our best to ask them during the event. And in the meantime, check out the selection of Ben’s work. Enjoy!


Rivers of London [1] : body work / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Rivers of London [2] : night witch / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Press-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt for his missing daughter, PC Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems! ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rivers of London [3] : black mould / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Something dark and slimy is dripping through the walls of suburban London. Not the usual stuff that smells funny and can be hell on the lungs, this mould is possessed by some dark power. Looks like it’s another case for London’s one and only trainee wizard cop, PC Peter Grant, and his reluctant partner, Sahra Guleed An all-new adventure for Ben Aaronvitch’s laconic, way-past-cool but slightly geeky trainee wizard and budding detective, Peter Grant.  ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

International crime inc. New Mystery fiction

Law and justice are not the same.”
― John Connolly.

The wide range and diversity of genres and writing styles to be found under the umbrella term of mysteries is amply demonstrated in this month’s new acquisitions list. We have a Ngaio Marsh shortlisted title from Renée. A couple of Scandinavian noir inflected tales from the dark north. Some more gentle entertaining crime tales from Rita Mae Brown and Mario Giordano. A new work from the perennially popular John Connolly and to wrap our selection up a sensational new Japanese crime voice Riku Onda whose book has gathered ecstatic reviews from his home country. Enjoy!

This is just a highlighted selection of our new acquisitions, to see this month’s the full list, and previous months, click here.

The dirty south / Connolly, John
“It is 1997, and someone is slaughtering young black women in Burdon County, Arkansas.But no one wants to admit it, not in the Dirty South. In an Arkansas jail cell sits a former NYPD detective, stricken by grief. He is mourning the death of his wife and child, and searching in vain for their killer. He cares only for his own lost family.But that is about to change . . . Witness the becoming of Charlie Parker.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Furmidable foes / Brown, Rita Mae
” Harry, Susan Tucker, and their friends are busy planting flowers and trimming hedges to get the church grounds in shape for the big day. But a note of a menace mars the beautiful spring: The brewery owned by Janice Childs and Mags Nielsen,  gets robbed, is this the work of a random thief? Or is something more sinister afoot? When Jeannie Cordle drops dead at a charity auction, poisoned by a fatal weed, Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: a killer lurks in their midst. Although she can’t yet prove it. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Auntie Poldi and the handsome Antonio / Giordano, Mario
All the beloved, irascible Auntie Poldi wanted from her Sicilian retirement was time to enjoy the sunshine, a free-flowing supply of wine, and a sultry romance with Chief Inspector Vito Montana. But then her idyll is rudely disrupted by the last person she wants to see on her doorstep: John Owenya, detective inspector with the Tanzanian Ministry of Home Affairs, who is also her estranged lying cheat of a husband. Not only is John’s sudden reappearance putting a kink in Poldi’s dreamy love affair with Montana, but his presence also comes with a plea for help–and unwanted clashes with the Mafia.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Death deserved / Horst, Jørn Lier
“Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrom never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrom’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation.Traces of Nordstrom soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing… (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Aosawa murders / Onda, Riku
“On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered,  her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing  in The Importance of Being Earnest. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Gallows Rock / Yrsa Sigurdardottir
On a jagged, bleak lava field just outside Reykjavik stands the Gallows Rock. Once a place of execution, it is now a tourist attraction. Until this morning, when a man was found hanging from it…The nail embedded in his chest proves it wasn’t suicide. But when the police go to his flat, a further puzzle awaits: a four-year-old boy has been left there. He doesn’t seem to have any link with the victim, his parents cannot be found, and his drawings show he witnessed something terrible.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A private cathedral / Burke, James Lee
“After finding himself caught up in one of Louisiana’s oldest and bloodiest family rivalries, Detective Dave Robicheaux must battle the most terrifying adversary he has ever encountered: a time-traveling superhuman assassin.  In order to defeat him and rescue Johnny and Isolde, Robicheaux will have to overcome the demons that have tormented him throughout his adult life–alcoholism, specters from combat in Vietnam, and painful memories of women to whom he opened his heart only to see killed. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our current obsession with pandemic fiction

How quickly one accepts the incredible if only one sees it enough.”

― Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

In the strange and uncertain times we find ourselves living in many commentators have said that the  world feels more like a Science Fiction story than normal reality. And given this fact it is not surprising that pandemic fiction has become suddenly very popular. Perhaps by reading about something we understand it more and fear it less.  There is a rich literary tradition of writing novels about plagues and pandemics that range from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron written in 1353, right up to the remarkable president The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue released earlier year but written before the Covid 19 outbreak. Here is a list of some of the most notable pandemic reads.

The decameron / Boccaccio, Giovanni
“The year is 1348. The Black Death has begun to ravage Europe. Ten young Florentines–seven women and three men–escape the plague-infested city and retreat to the countryside around Fiesole. At their leisure in this isolated and bucolic setting, they spend ten days telling each other stories–tales of romance, tragedy, comedy, and farce–one hundred in all. The result, called by one critic “the greatest short story collection of all time” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an audiobook. 

The plague / Camus, Albert
“The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they are forced into quarantine. Each person responds in their own way to the lethal disease: some resign themselves to fate, some seek blame, and a few, like Dr Rieux, resist the terror. The Plague is in part an allegory of France’s suffering under the Nazi occupation, and a story of bravery and determination against the precariousness of human existence. “ (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an audiobook. 

I am legend / Matheson, Richard
“Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood. By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn. How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?” (Catalogue) Also available as an audiobook.

The book of M / Shepherd, Peng
In the middle of a market in India, a man’s shadow disappears. As rolling twenty-four-hour news coverage tries to explain the event, more cases are discovered. The phenomenon spreads like a plague as people learn the true cost of their lost part: their memories. Two years later, Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods in Virgina. They have settled into their new reality, until Max, too, loses her shadow. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an audiobook.

Overdrive cover The Transmigration of Bodies and Signs Preceding the End of the World, Yuri Herrera (ebook)
Hilarious and horrifying, Yuri Herrera’s The Transmigration of Bodies is a gritty, feverish novella, written in dazzling prose that is both bawdy and poetic. A plague has brought death to the city. Two feuding crime families with blood on their hands need our hard-boiled hero, The Redeemer, to broker peace. Both his instincts and the vacant streets warn him to stay indoors, but The Redeemer ventures out into the city’s underbelly to arrange for the exchange of the bodies they hold hostage. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Station eleven / Mandel, Emily St. John
“‘ The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%. WEEK TWO – Civilization has crumbled.YEAR TWENTY – A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The year of the flood / Atwood, Margaret
“After ecological disaster hits, trapeze dancer Ren and Toby, leader of a group called God’s Gardeners, are the only survivors-except for some scary gene-spliced life forms. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners, predicted the waterless flood. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. By turns dark, tender, violent, & hilarious.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Old Drift : a novel / Serpell, Namwali
“Those buzzing mosquitoes? They’re a Greek chorus. As the generations pass through Old Drift , their lives–their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes–emerge through a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction. From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an audiobook.

The pull of the stars / Donoghue, Emma
“.In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

A novel for all seasons

That’s what winter is: an exercise in remembering how to still yourself then how to come pliantly back to life again.”

― Ali Smith, Winter

The concluding instalment of Ali Smiths much praised Seasonal Quartet series has just been released. Summer like the previous works in the series is a stand-alone novel but all of the books in the series are interlinked as their titles suggest by the seasons. However Ali Smith is by no means the first author to find inspiration from our seasons indeed regularly a large number of the books in the summer bestseller charts have summer as their back drop. And the distinctive characteristics of the other seasons has fired the creative imagination of many an author. Below are just a few of the novels that have found their origins in the seasons. Enjoy!

Summer : a novel / Smith, Ali
“From the Man Booker short-listed author of Autumn, Winter, and Spring comes Summer, the highly anticipated fourth novel in her acclaimed Seasonal Quartet. Here is the exciting culmination of Ali Smith’s celebrated Seasonal Quartet, a series of stand-alone novels, separate but interconnected (as the seasons are), wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The summer book / Jansson, Tove
“An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter are away on a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. As the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, whims and yearnings, a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the very island itself.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The history of bees / Lunde, Maja
“This  novel follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees–and to their children and one another–against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis. England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Outline / Cusk, Rachel
“A novel in ten conversations, Outline follows a novelist teaching creative writing during an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling, meets other writers for dinner, and swims in the Ionian Sea with a man she met on the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sag Harbor : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
“Every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own. Because their parents come out only on weekends, he and his friends are left to their own devices for three glorious months. And although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that maybe this summer things will be different. If all goes according to plan, that is.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The left hand of darkness / Le Guin, Ursula K.
” When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue – a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The tenderness of wolves / Penney, Stef
” The year is 1867. Winter has just tightened its grip on Dove River, a tiny isolated settlement in the Northern Territory, when a man is brutally murdered. A local woman, Mrs. Ross, stumbles upon the crime scene and sees the tracks leading from the dead man’s cabin north toward the forest and the tundra beyond. It is Mrs. Ross’s knock on the door of the largest house in Caulfield that launches the investigation. Within hours she will regret that knock with a mother’s love – for soon she makes another discovery: her seventeen-year-old son Francis has disappeared and is now considered a prime suspect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Autumn : a novel / Smith, Ali
” Autumn 2016- Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. And the UK is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Here is time, ever-changing, ever cyclical. Here comes Autumn.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Ask Ben Aaronovitch a Question!

We are very excited to announce that in October we will be doing a pre-recorded Question and Answer online event with the international bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch–and we need your help with the questions!

Ben Aaronovitch is one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy writers in the world today. His Rivers of London series has been translated into 14 languages worldwide, with every one of the novels becoming a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Ben has been a screenwriter for Doctor Who, Casualty and has written spin-off novels for Doctor Who and Blake 7. His work has even been adapted into a fantastic graphic novel series.

So if you’ve ever wanted to ask Ben Aaronovitch a question, now’s your chance!

Simply send us your questions via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email and we’ll do our best to ask them during the event. And in the meantime, check out the selection of Ben’s work we have available to borrow throughout our libraries. Enjoy!

False value / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company. Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous “silicon roundabout”, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.” (Adapted from  Catalogue)

The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger, and paperwork.” (Catalogue)

Foxglove summer / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper. Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods.” (Catalogue). Also available as an Audiobook. 

The furthest station / Aaronovitch, Ben
” Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow up interviews rather difficult. So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition…” (Catalogue)

Lies sleeping / Aaronovitch, Ben
“The Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring him to justice. But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that the Faceless Man, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan.” (Catalogue)

The hanging tree / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of Police Constable Peter Grant or the Folly–London’s police department for supernatural cases–even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the flats of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But the daughter of Lady Ty, influential goddess of the Tyburn river, was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favor. Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, a sensible young copper would keep his head down. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.” (Catalogue)

Rivers of London [1] : body work / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.  The graphic novel is based on the bestselling novel “Rivers of London.” (Catalogue)

Rivers of London [2] : night witch / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Press-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt his missing daughter, PC Peter Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis: The Faceless Man. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems!” (Catalogue)

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…”

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Ever since the Bard put quill to parchment he has inspired artists from every artistic sphere and from every point in time.  The richness, complexity and universality of his characters, coupled with the variety of locations and plots, give rise to an almost endless resource of inspiration to draw from.

The fictional world is no exception, just recently Maggie O’Farrell’s remarkable, extraordinary and profound novel about the death of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet was released. There is a rich seam of other novels that are connected to Shakespeare or his works in some way or another. From Margaret Atwood’s Hag-seed,  to Jane Smiley’s re-imagining of King Lear A thousand Acres.

So we thought it would be an interesting idea to highlight just a few of the books and films that we like  that draw direct inspiration from the bard’s works. Enjoy!


Hamnet / O’Farrell, Maggie
“Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hag-seed : The tempest retold / Atwood, Margaret
It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge.’ Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.” (Catalogue)

Miranda and Caliban / Carey, Jacqueline
“A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows listeners the other side of the coin-the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Another radical re imagining of the Tempest is the fifties science fiction classic film Forbidden Planet available as part of our essential viewing collection. 

Forbidden planet [videorecording]
” A dutiful robot named Robby speaks 188 languages. An underground lair offers evidence of an advanced civilization. But among Altair-4’s many wonders, none is greater or more deadly than the human mind.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo
” Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of who is a  master of manipulation named Hecate has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way. ” (Catalogue)

Macbeth
“This visually stunning film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s famous play, which focuses on a Scottish lord named Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and his power-hungry wife (Marion Cotillard). After Macbeth hears a prophecy that he will become the king of Scotland, he becomes fixated on taking throne and decides to murder the current king to do so. Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Harris, David Thewlis, and Jack Reynor co-star. Directed by Justin Kurzel .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A thousand acres : a novel / Smiley, Jane
“This powerful twentieth-century reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear centers on a wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm among his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will, which sets in motion a chain of events that brings dark truths to light. Ambitiously conceived and stunningly written, A Thousand Acres spins the most fundamental themes of truth, justice, love, and pride into a universally acclaimed masterpiece.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

There is also Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s classic retelling of King Lear set in 16th century  Ran. 


Ran [videorecording]
“In 16th century Japan, an aging ruler attempts to divide his kingdom among his three sons, who turn against each other and betray their father, triggering events that ultimately shatter the kingdom, destroy the family, and drive their father insane.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Or  how about Gnomeo & Juliet  for a fun lighthearted, irreverent  introduction to the  Bard’s work ?


Gnomeo & Juliet [videorecording]
“Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingoes and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness?” (Catalogue)

And finally in this very small selection of Shakespeare inspired books and films how about Star Wars retold in a Shakespearean style ?

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars : verily, a new hope / Doescher, Ian
“Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ” (Catalogue)

Tales from the Big Apple – a selection of New York novels

One belongs to New York instantly; one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

Tom Wolfe

The Jazz Age, Harlem, Brooklyn, the Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty — New York is a city of the global imagination and people feel like they know it without ever having visited it. The concentrated mass of popular culture set in the city is huge: shows like Sex and the city and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and films like King Kong, Ghostbusters and Shaft — and of course, scores and scores of novels that are set in and around the city and feature its denizens.

The range of voices and stories from this city is phenomenal and covers every age and community — from Toni Morrison’s Jazz to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, and from Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big city to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. There really is a novel for every facet and every mood of this city and something that should appeal to every reader no matter their taste in books. Here is a selection of books that revolve around New York. Enjoy!

Overdrive cover Jazz, Toni Morrison (ebook)
“Joe Trace – in his fifties, door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, erstwhile devoted husband – shoots dead his lover of three months, the impetuous, eighteen-year-old Dorcas. At the funeral, his determined, hard-working wife, Violet, who is given to stumbling into dark mental cracks, tries with a knife to disfigure the corpse. Passionate and profound, Jazz brings us back and forth in time, in a narrative assembled from the hopes, fears and realities of black urban life.” (Adapted from Overdrive description. Also available as an audiobook)

Overdrive cover Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (ebook)
“You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard Lounge. All might become clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder. Then again, it might not… So begins our nameless hero’s trawl through the brightly lit streets of Manhattan, sampling all this wonderland has to offer yet suspecting that tomorrow’s hangover may be caused by more than simple excess.” ( Adapted from Overdrive description)

The Godfather / Puzo, Mario
“Don Vito Corleone is the ‘Godfather’ of New York’s richest Mafia family. His business is built on fear and murder. Vito’s son Michael wants a quiet life away from the family business. But that’s not easy, and slowly Michael becomes the most dangerous gangster of them all…  A tale of family and society, law and order, obedience and rebellion, it reveals the dark passions of human nature played out against a backdrop of the American dream.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bonfire of the vanities / Wolfe, Tom
“When a hot young New York bond trader is involved in a car accident in the Bronx, prosecutors, politicians, the press, police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers close in on him, licking their chops. Through it, he discovers the black comedy of New York, a city boiling over with ethnic hostilities and burning with itchy palms. The novel that will forever define late-20th-century New York style.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison (ebook)
“Ralph Ellison’s blistering and impassioned first novel tells the extraordinary story of a man invisible ‘simply because people refuse to see me’. Published in 1952 when American society was in the cusp of immense change, the powerfully depicted adventures of Ellison’s invisible man – from his expulsion from a Southern college to a terrifying Harlem race riot – go far beyond the story of one individual to give voice to the experience of an entire generation of black Americans. ” (Adapted from Overdrive description) Also available as an Audiobook. 

Motherless Brooklyn / Lethem, Jonathan
“Frank Minna is a savior. A local tough guy and fixer, Minna shows up to take Lionel and three of his fellow orphans on mysterious errands: they empty a store of stereos as the owner watches; destroy a small amusement park; visit old Italian men. The four grow up to be the Minna Men, a fly-by-night detective agency-cum-limo service, and their days and nights revolve around Frank, the prince of Brooklyn, who glides through life on street smarts, attitude, and secret knowledge. Then one dreadful night, Frank is knifed and thrown into a Dumpster, and Lionel must become a real detective. ” (Adapted from Catalogue. Also available as an Ebook.)

Rules of civility / Towles, Amor
” Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year-old named Katey Kontent, a young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect‚ a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey Kontent embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of 1938 New York City society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Continue reading “Tales from the Big Apple – a selection of New York novels”

Glasgow novels

I love summer in Glasgow, it’s my favourite day of the year.

Fuad Alakbarov

It may not be Scotland’s capital city, but Glasgow is easily Scotland’s most populous — it was once one of the industrial powerhouses of Victorian Britain. The decline of these industries sadly led to many deep seated social issues that exist to this day, but nowadays Glasgow is known for its vibrant world-class art scene, its rich, comic outlook on life, some remarkable architecture and buildings — and of course deep fried mars bars and legions of novels written about or featuring life in the city.

In many of these books, the character and atmosphere of the city itself often lurks like an extra character. This year’s Booker Prize shortlist features one such novel — Shuggie Bain. Set in a run-down Glasgow housing estate in the 1980s, it revolves around a lonely outsider boy and his struggle to fit in, to be accepted, and to survive.

While many novels about Glasgow focus on the darker side of the city, others show the myriad of different aspects of the city and its inhabitants. Below you’ll find a selection of novels that feature Glasgow at their core and show the many faceted nature of this marvellous city. Enjoy.


Shuggie Bain [paperback] / Stuart, Douglas
“It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain  dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright. But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A small weeping / Gray, Alex
“The body of a prostitute is found at Glasgow’s Queen Street station, her hands, pointing towards her feet, placed as if in prayer, a small flower pressed between the palms. Psychologist Solomon Brightman is called to assist DCI Lorimer in the murder hunt. But before any conclusions can be drawn, the body of a nurse is discovered at The Grange, a private clinic. Aside from the careful arrangement of the corpses, there is no obvious connection between the victims. Then a third body turns up, and it seems increasingly clear that they have a serial killer on their hands.” (Catalogue)

The special dead / Anderson, Lin
” When Mark is invited back to Leila’s flat and ordered to strip, he expects the experience of his life. Waking later to find Leila gone, he opens the wrong door and finds he’s entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with. Rhona Macleod’s investigation reveals the red silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artifact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine men, but who are they? ” (Catalogue)

The cutting room / Welsh, Louise
“An auctioneer by profession, Rilke is an acknowledged expert in antiques. When he comes upon a hidden collection of violent, and highly disturbing, erotic photographs, Rilke feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness.” (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook

Buddha Da / Donovan, Anne
“Painter and decorator Jimmy McKenna develops  an keen interest in Buddhism after a chance meeting in a Glasgow sandwich bar with a Buddhist monk, but how will Jimmy’s family react to his new found faith and how will this new approach to life change Jimmy?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine / Honeyman, Gail
” Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Espedair Street / Banks, Iain
“Daniel Weir used to be a famous – not to say infamous – rock star. At thirty-one he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He’s made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he’ll regret for ever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold on to them both, though not to much else. His friends all seem to be dead, fed up with him or just disgusted – and who can blame them? And now Daniel Weir is all alone. As he contemplates his life, Daniel realises he has only two problems: the past and the future. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The sacred art of stealing / Brookmyre, Christopher
” Angelique had enough to be fed up about before the embarrassment of being a cop taken hostage by the most bizarrely unorthodox crooks ever to set foot in Glasgow. Disillusioned, disaffected and chronically single, she’s starting to take stock of the sacrifices she’s made for a job that’s given her back nothing but grief. So when her erstwhile captor has the chutzpah to phone her at work and ask her out on a date, Angelique finds herself in no great hurry to turn him in. She knows now that the cops will never love her back, but maybe one of the robbers will.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Zealand’s new publishing sensation, Rose Carlyle

I feel like everybody else is an author, and I’m just an ordinary person who wrote a book. And my book’s kind of about that impostor syndrome, of feeling like you’re not really the real thing.

Rose Carlyle, 2020.

Debut New Zealand author Rose Carlyle is living every budding writer’s dream — her first novel, The girl in the mirror, has had book publishers competing and major Hollywood studios vying to snap up the film rights. A lawyer who lives in Auckland with her three children, she wrote her debut novel early in the morning before work and family life.

Several commentators have already said she looks set to be the next big thing in New Zealand publishing. Be one of the first to read what the fuss is about by reserving a copy!

The girl in the mirror / Carlyle, Rose
“Identical twins only look the same … Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam. Called to Thailand to help sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ngaio Marsh Award 2020 longlist announced

You must be able to write. You must have a sense of form, of pattern, of design. You must have a respect for and a mastery over words.

— Ngaio Marsh

Christchurch-born Ngaio Marsh — along with Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham — is regarded as one of the “Queens of Crime”. She wrote 32 detective novels between 1934 and 1982, and the early part of her career fell in what is regarded as the ‘golden age of detective fiction’. All of her books feature gentleman detective DCI Roderick Alleyn and often revolve around what were her two other passions — art and theatre. The modern award  bearing her name aims to “recognise excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery and thriller writing”.

This year’s longlist includes some of New Zealand’s best known writers — such as Paul Cleave and Renée — as well as a number of rising stars. The range of styles, approaches and subjects is broad in the extreme, but what unites all of the books chosen is the quality and sheer scope of the writing. Have a browse of the longlist and enjoy!

The longlisted titles are:


Whatever It Takes / Cleave, Paul
“When seven-year-old Alyssa is kidnapped, Deputy Noah Harper decides he will do what it takes to find her — but that means crossing lines he can never come back from. Finding the girl safe isn’t enough to stop Noah from losing his job, his wife, and from being kicked out of Acacia Pines. He’s told if he ever returns, he’ll be put in jail and left there to rot. Now, 12 years later, comes a phone call. Alyssa is missing again and her father wants him to honor the promise he made to her all those years earlier — that he would never let anything bad happen to her again. To find her, Noah is going to have to head back to the pines, and come face to face with the past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Auē / Manawatu, Becky
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club. But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

In the clearing / Pomare, J. P.
“Amy has only ever known what life is like in the Clearing. . That is, until a new young girl joins the group. She isn’t fitting in; she doesn’t want to stay. What happens next will turn life as Amy knows it on its head. Freya has gone to great lengths to feel like a ‘normal person’. In fact, if you saw her go about her day with her young son, you’d think she was an everyday mum. That is, until a young girl goes missing and someone from her past, someone she hasn’t seen for a very long time, arrives in town. As Amy and Freya’s story intertwines the secrets of the past bubble up to the surface. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered, her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A madness of sunshine / Singh, Nalini
“Golden Cove is a peaceful town. That is until one fateful summer, when tragedy shatters the trust holding the community together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships and a silent agreement to never look back. But they can’t run from the past forever. Eight years later, a young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape. The town’s dark past and haunted present are about to collide.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Other longlisted titles are Shadow of Doubt by S. L. Beaumont, Trust me; I’m Dead by Sherryl Clark, One Single Thing by Tina Clough, Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs, Hide by S. J. Morgan and The Great Divide by L. J. M. Owen.

The shortlist will be announced later this year.