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Article  •  22 January 2020


2020 Summer Picks From the Penguin NZ Team!

Here at the NZ office of Penguin Random House we are huge readers – it is definitely one of the perks of the job that we get access to so many books! Luckily across the team we have a wide range of interests so, for example, if we want to know what all the fuss is about with a big debut international crime novel, our crime fiction enthusiast Becky can read it and share her thoughts on whether it will work for NZ readers, our Naomi can spot the next big thing in young adult fiction, and so on… here we present you with a few of what we’ve truly loved over the summer.

Claire - Shakti by Rajorshi Chakraborti

I first read the draft manuscript for Shakti on a plane and literally laughed out loud - so loud and so frequently that I finally woke up the man next to me. It has all the bustle and madness of modern-day India, religious and social tensions, tragicomic social media snafus, some fallible, unforgettable female characters, at least one sinister talking snake, secret superpowers (including mind-reading, which is *obviously* the most awesome superpower), all the hilarity that ensues when fallible people get superpowers, and an increasingly dark series of incidents, full of creepy political suspense, satire and power. Far, far too often people compare writers to other, more famous writers but it’s true that Raj is like Haruki Murakami, like Paul Auster, like Aravind Adiga, like peak Tom Wolfe. And he’s ours! (As in, NZ’s.) I think he’s a truly great novelist, full stop. A master of tone and plot and character who keeps it cool and surprising as well as full of feeling, pace and intensity.

Shakti is a great book club read: here are some conversation starters

Becky - Long Bright River by Liz Moore

This story of two very different sisters has had deservedly rave reviews from Paula Hawkins and Dennis Lehane. It’s ostensibly a crime novel, and will definitely satisfy crime fiction fans, but really it’s about how the opioid epidemic in the US rips apart multiple generations of one family. One sister is a sensible cop, the other an addict and sex worker who goes missing from the streets. It’s gripping, heart-rending, literary-ish crime at its best – excellent for reading in big chunks. It’s informed by Liz’s own family background and experience working with the street communities of Philadelphia, and is almost painfully authentic – but all the better for it.

You can start reading Long Bright River here!

Bex - Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

You don’t need to be a Marian Keyes fan to fall in love with this book, (though if you are a fan you’ll be delighted because she is back and on form!) The story is engaging, witty, and hits you right in the feels at parts. I found myself looking forward to stealing as many moments as I could during the day so I could escape and continue reading about the highly entertaining Casey family! The characters are so real, and the conversations and situations relatable… I personally have days when I struggle with being ‘A Grown Up’, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about other adults who felt the same. It’s the perfect light but compelling summer read, best enjoyed in the sun.

You can start reading an extract here

Naomi - One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus 

Karen McManus rewrote the young adult mystery rulebook with her earlier bestsellers One of Us is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret, and our Naomi loved this new truth-or-dare based plot with its multiple narrators and a deliciously twisty storyline. PLUS it has blue sprayed edges so it is a thing of beauty for the beach this summer. Here's what Naomi had to say about it: 

One of Us is Lying was my favourite YA title of 2017, and I loved this sequel just as much! This return visit to Bayview High and its unusually dark and twisted student population will not see readers disappointed. McManus retains a few trademarks of her bestselling first book: the setting, multiple narrators and a deliciously twisty storyline. But the truth or dare based plot and the cast of characters are unique to this book and should thrill fans of McManus all over again!

Shanee - Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Shanee’s recent favourite, the New York Times bestseller Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. It’s a heart-warming emotional rollercoaster and tells the story of a 12-year-old boy famous for all the wrong reasons after he’s the sole survivor of a plane crash. Here’s what else Shanee has to say about it: 

'This is one of those books that stays in your heart and soul long after you have read it. I loved it! 12-year-old Edward is the only survivor of a plane crash whose loss of his family is devastating, he finds solace through his neighbour, a 12-year-old girl named Shay. It’s written in alternating chapters from Edward going through his life working through his emotional grief of loss to the passengers on the plane unbeknown to their hurtling fate. This is a heart-warming emotional rollercoaster which teaches you how much you should take every moment in your life to truly live it!'

Click here to read a Q&A with the author about what inspired her to write the book!

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