Top Staff Picks - August 2022
This month we have a selection of books that our librarians have been reading during the Adult Reading Challenge, check them out below.
Book Published in 2022
Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
1938, China. With the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.
This is the story of a boy who died--and a girl who wants to know why. Todd Mayer is dead. Now he's some sort of ghost, hovering over his body, which has just been found in the town park, naked and frozen in the snow. As detectives investigate Todd's homicide, talking to the very people who are responsible for how he died, Todd replays the events that lead him to his end in the park.
Book About Survival
This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang
A shocking and moving portrayal of scenes of every day life in North Korea, a secretive and brutal nation. Hyok Kang writes of the public executions, the labor camps and mines, the punishment for "anti-social behavior," the secret watching of Beijing television, and the spies everywhere who help enforce the regime.
In the Shadow of the Mountain by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado
Despite a high-flying career, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado knew she was hanging by a thread. Deep in the throes of alcoholism, and hiding her sexuality from her family, she was repressing the abuse she'd suffered as a child. When her mother called her home to Peru, she knew something finally had to change. It did. Silvia began to climb.
North Korea Journal by Michael Palin
A glimpse of life inside the world’s most secretive country, as told by Britain’s best-loved travel writer. In May 2018, former Monty Python stalwart and intrepid globetrotter Michael Palin spent two weeks in the notoriously secretive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a cut-off land without internet or phone signal, where the countryside has barely moved beyond a centuries-old peasant economy but where the cities have gleaming skyscrapers and luxurious underground train stations.
Book Set in the Future
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
After fight with her mother, Holly slams the door on her family and her old life. Once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people, " Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.
With the scope of Dune and the rousing action of Independence Day, this near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author.
An entertaining graphic adaptation of the oldest military treatise in the world. Hailed as the oldest philosophical discussion on military strategy, Sun Tzu's The Art of War has been adapted as a graphic novel by award-winning illustrator Pete Katz.
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike.
New Zealand Author
National Anthem by Mohamed Hassan
Mohamed Hassan is an award-winning journalist and poet based in Auckland. Public Enemy, his 2016 podcast series about the rise of Islamophobia post 9/11, won Gold at the 2017 New York Festival Radio Awards. Last year he reported extensively on the Christchurch mosque attacks, all while in deep shock as a member of New Zealand's small and connected Muslim community.
It's 1978: the Auckland abortion clinic has been forced to close and sixteen-year-old Charlie has to fly to Sydney, but the plane is delayed on the tarmac. It's 2019: Charlie's tightly contained Wellington life with her grandson Tommy is interrupted by the unexpected intrusions of Tommy's first girlfriend, Jenna, and the father he has never known, Jim. The year turns, and everything changes again... written in real time against the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic and the New Zealand General Election and euthanasia referendum.
Phil and his father's beloved heading dog, Blue, are to work on a sheep station while Phil's dad undergoes cancer treatment. The station manager, Chopper, isn't happy about having a teenager in his care and certainly not with a sheepdog that doesn't understand his signals. Things improve when Chopper's stepdaughter, Emara, arrives but then a wayward ram and a poor decision plummets both boy and dog into danger. Phil will need all his strength to get them out alive.
Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa
A dogged, absurd quest through the nightmare of the Syrian civil war, Khaled Khalifa's Death Is Hard Work is the new novel from the greatest chronicler of Syria's ongoing and catastrophic civil war: a tale of three ordinary people facing down the stuff of nightmares armed with little more than simple determination.
Boku has an uneasy preoccupation with dreams - and with making and losing lovers. And when he first runs away from Tokyo, his dreams and his reality gradually start to shift and overlap. This is a story of three failed escapes - and the loss of three girlfriends in the process.
The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami
Who loves Mr Nishino? Minami is the daughter of Mr Nishino's true love. Bereaved Shiori is tempted by his unscrupulous advances. His colleague Manami should know better. His conquest Reiko treasures her independence above all else. Friends Tama and Subaru find themselves playing Nishino's game, but Eriko loves her cat more. Sayuri is older, Aichan is much younger, and Misono has her own conquests to make. For each of them, an encounter with elusive womaniser Mr Nishino will bring torments, desires and delights.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura
How can you save your friend's life if she doesn't want to be rescued? In a tranquil neighbourhood of Tokyo, seven teenagers wake to find the mirrors in their bedrooms are shining. At a single touch, they are pulled from their lonely lives into to a wondrous castle filled with winding stairways, watchful portraits and twinkling chandeliers. In this new sanctuary, they are confronted with a set of clues leading to a hidden room where one of them will be granted a wish. But there's a catch -- if they don't leave by five o'clock, they will die.
Young Adult Novel
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Meet Eleanor. She's just moved to a new town, is struggling to make friends and is finding it even harder living under the same roof as her dysfunctional family. When she first meets Park, she thinks he's obnoxious. Meet Park. He's liked by everyone but has never felt like he fitted in. He loves his family but feels like they don't understand him. When he first meets Eleanor, he thinks she's weird. It is hate at first sight.
Adam Thorn doesn't know it yet, but today will change his life. Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam's life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn't he?) and his best friend, Angela. But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam's life into chaos.