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Melissa’s Staff Picks


Love in the Time of Cholera book coverHaru recommends: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez.

“Love in the Time of Cholera” is a novel written in Spanish by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez and published in 1985. The settings, which takes place between the late 1870s and the early 1930s in an unnamed port city of South American troubled by wars and outbreaks of cholera, are evocative and masterfully portrayed.

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. They write each other letters for years. When Fermina Daza eventually leaves him, and then marries a wealthy, educated and reputable doctor who is mainly her father’s choice, Florentino Ariza is hopelessly devastated. Nevertheless, he is an utter romantic. He goes to great lengths to move up the ladder, so that he would become a man who deserved a woman like her. Throughout the years waiting for the death of her husband, he has 622 affairs to fill the void left by her. Still, he stays single and claims himself as a virgin because his heart is always reserved for her only. At last, her husband passes away. Florentino Ariza attends the funeral purposefully and declares his love for Fermina Daza again, like what he did 55 years ago. After a lifetime apart, they are reunited.

The story, which treats the themes of love, aging, and death, is romantic, especially the purity of Florentino Ariza’s love that survived time, illness, societal beliefs, and rejections. This book is lively, beautiful, and certainly, a good start to dive into the enchanting world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as it is much easier to read than “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Place a hold on: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez.

 


Rabbit Foot Bill book coverGen recommends: Rabbit Foot Bill by Helen Humphreys.

In the heart of a small prairie town, young Leonard “Lenny” Flint finds an unlikely friendship with the town’s mysterious recluse, known to the locals as Rabbit Foot Bill. Lenny, a lonely boy, is drawn into Bill’s world, accompanying him on trips to set snares and visiting his rustic dug-out shelter on Sugar Hill. Bill, a man of few words, earns his keep with odd jobs around town. However, Lenny’s world shatters when he witnesses Bill commit a horrifying act of violence—murdering a boy while pruning a hedge.

Fast forward fifteen years, and Leonard emerges as a newly minted doctor of psychiatry. His career path leads him to the Weyburn Mental Hospital, where fate twists his arm once more, reuniting him with Bill. Driven by a mixture of shock and an unyielding need for answers, Leonard seeks to understand the dark impulses behind Bill’s shocking crime, confronting the shadows of his own past in the process.

Based loosely on a chilling true story from the seventies, this novel beautifully captures the haunting journey of a boy turned psychiatrist, navigating through his own turbulent past intertwined with a mysterious figure. Leonard’s quest for truth and Bill’s enigmatic character will keep you hooked, and eager to uncover the secrets buried in the quiet town of Canwood, Saskatoon.

Place a hold on: Rabbit Foot Bill by Helen Humphreys.

 


Maybe Next Time book coverEmma recommends: Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major.

I confess that I picked up this book solely on the description of it being “One Day meets Groundhog Day”. Say no more! So if you love a light yet thought-provoking time-loop story to sit back and relax with during this lovely sunny weather, then Maybe Next Time you might pick this up too.

Emma is a busy literary agent, pre-occupied with work and her ever increasing to-do list. So much so, she forgets her anniversary, leading to an argument with her husband that changes everything and sends her world crashing down around her. Waking up the next morning, she slowly realises she is miraculously reliving the same day and has a chance to make things right but no matter what she tries, nothing changes the outcome. As she navigates the time-loop over and over, she is forced to slow down and appreciate what is truly important in her life.

Maybe Next Time was the November 2023 Reese’s Book Club pick – if you are a fan of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club picks then check out our list of other titles available to borrow from the library here: Celebrity Book Club Picks

Place a hold on: Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major.

 


Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts book cover

Denisa recommends: Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts by Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas.

I love cookbooks! A few years ago, I was participating in a way of eating that limited my options of ingredients temporarily. I asked a chef friend if she had any baking suggestions and here is the result. Sweet Laurel is a beautiful cookbook full of desserts that are made with grain-free, whole foods. What does that mean you ask? Well, how about cacao, nuts, coconut, dates, honey and lemon to name a few.

The book opens with a sweet, vanilla marshmallow recipe and the simple staple of applesauce. Try your hand at vegan caramel or homemade nut butters. Mother’s Day is coming up, try a batch of Mother’s Scones on page 46 and personalize the flavours, or go all out and decorate a showstopping layer cake on page 233. Cookies, bars, pies and cakes oh my!

My two favourite recipes on repeat at home are the Blueberry Streusel Muffins and the Crepes with Lemon and Honey. Brew up a tea and get creative in the kitchen.
Bon Appetit!

Place a hold on: Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts by Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas.

 


The Hundred Years' War on Palestine book cover

Brennan Recommends: The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi.

Rashid Khalidi is one of the best known, American based scholars of Palestinian nationalism and history. He has been an author, professor, editor, advisor to negotiations and member of a prominent Palestinian family. He has lived his entire life immersed in the struggles for a just future for his people and ancestral homeland. This book is not meant to be a “neutral” account, it is the story of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian point of view.

Broken into 6 sections or wars (some actual wars, some diplomatic) the book covers the period prior to 1917, the Balfour Declaration to the aftermath of PM Ariel Sharon’s incendiary September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount. The overall thesis is that the Zionist movement and the state of Israel that it would go on to found, along with the (self interested) backing of the superpower of the day, Britain then America, have conspired to rob the Palestinian people of their lands, livelihoods and self determination, all while autocratic Arab regimes, claiming to defend them, use them to advance their own cynical goals. Well documented, his argument is impossible to dismiss out of hand.

Published in 2020 this book knows nothing of the current horror show unfolding on our screens since Oct 7th but as a comprehensive primer on a shamefully neglected side of the story, here in North America especially, it can help us to understand how such brutality is possible. Indeed, inevitable unless the current dynamic changes.

Place a hold on: The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi.

 


The Celebrants book coverMelissa recommends: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley.

I had read “Guncle” by Steven Rowley and very much enjoyed it. So, I picked up his latest book “The Celebrants: hoping for some laugh-out-loud moments. The Celebrants was a very different experience. The story follows a tight-knit group of friends from their university days into their adult lives. They create a ‘pack’ where they can have a 1-time phone-a-friend, where the entire group comes together to celebrate an individual in the group.

Steven Rowley’s ability to create deep bonds among characters as the characters support each other with kindness, compassion, and ride-or-die support. I was reminded of the 90’s movie “The Breakfast Club” as I read this book. Put a group of people together and see how bonds are created. This bond created among the group creates a nice pick me up after a life event that shakes one to the core. How the group chooses to celebrate is unusual and done in the form of a fake funeral.

As the reader, you learn more about the characters as they participate in their own fake funeral. I enjoyed how the group of friends dropped everything to honour the pack and focus their love and attention on whoever needed it. The layout of the book which focused on a character per chapter is what kept me reading.

Place a hold on: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

 


American Dirt book coverMegan recommends: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

Hi everyone! My name is Megan. I’m the latest addition to the Pemberton & District Public Library team and I’m so excited to share my very first staff pick with you this week.

American Dirt is an incredible novel that follows the journey of independent bookstore owner Lydia and her 8-year-old son, Luca, as they flee across the country from a notorious Mexican cartel who threatens to take everything away from them, namely their lives. The first few pages were absolutely gripping and made it challenging to put the book down; it was action packed from the very beginning and continued to surprise me as the story picked up again and again through each chapter.

While the characters navigate loss, grief, fear, and desperation for survival, the author simultaneously touches on love, friendship, determination, and the weight of unexpected kindness. If you’re looking for a suspenseful thriller with real world themes, American Dirt is definitely worth a read.

Place a hold on: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

 


Of Mice and Men book coverHaru recommends: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

“Of Mice and Men” is a 1937 novella written by John Steinbeck. It narrates the experiences of George Milton, a smart but restless man, and Lennie Small, a bulky, strong but mentally challenged man. During the Great Depression in the United States, these two migrant field workers travel together, from work to work, from trouble to trouble. They hope to one day live the dream of settling down on their own piece of land.
While telling the story and preaching the dangers of believing in American Dream, Steinbeck also exposes different sides of human nature. The relationship of George and Lennie shows the value of friendship and companionship. As for the other themes, such as loneliness, violence, justice, they are all still just as relevant in today’s society.
John Steinbeck is undoubtedly a gifted writer. “The Grapes of Wrath” of his has been added to my TBR pile, even though the size of it was quite daunting.

Place a hold on: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

 


Starter Villain coverGen recommends: Starter Villain by John Scalzi.

“Charlie’s life is going nowhere fast. A divorced substitute teacher living with his cat in a house his siblings want to sell, all he wants is to open a pub downtown, if only the bank will approve his loan.

Then his long-lost uncle Jake dies and leaves his supervillain business (complete with island volcano lair) to Charlie.

But becoming a supervillain isn’t all giant laser death rays and lava pits. Jake had enemies, and now they’re coming after Charlie. His uncle might have been a stand-up, old-fashioned kind of villain, but these are the real thing: rich, soulless predators backed by multinational corporations and venture capital.”

If you love cats and are in the mood for a highly entertaining, slightly ridiculous, quick read with some fun plot twists, then you should give this book a try! I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it!

Place a hold on: Starter Villain by John Scalzi

 


Book cover of Nosey Parker by Lesley CreweDenisa recommends: Nosy Parker by Lesley Crewe.

Lesley Crewe is a magnificent author, and this was one of the first of her books I had the pleasure of reading. It takes place in Montreal during Expo in 1967. We gain the perspective of Audrey Parker a nosy little girl who has just moved to Notre-Dame-de-Grace with her Father. In her new neighbourhood, there is a wide range of people and scenarios for a girl with her imagination to spy on. As she moves through her daily life, we get to know Audrey as a scrappy, outspoken and resilient little girl. Audrey is a detective of life, observing every little detail, except the one she wants to know most of all. How she came to be motherless. Who was her mother, how did she die and why hasn’t her father told her these things.

For anyone who has lived in or visited Montreal, Lesley’s descriptive imagery takes you right back there. This book is written with humour and immersive detail.

Place a hold on: Nosy Parker by Lesley Crewe

 


Book cover of Woke up like this by Amy LeaMelissa recommends: Woke up like this by Amy Lea.

“For two high school seniors, it’s seventeen going on thirty—overnight—in a magical romantic comedy about growing up too fast and living in the moment.

Planning the perfect prom is one last “to do” on ultra-organized Charlotte Wu’s high school bucket list. So far, so good, if not for a decorating accident that sends Charlotte crash-landing off a ladder, face-first into her obnoxiously ripped archnemesis J. T. Renner. Worse? When Charlotte wakes up, she finds herself in an unfamiliar bed at thirty years old, with her bearded fiancé, Renner, by her side.

Either they’ve lost their minds or they’ve been drop-kicked into adulthood, forever trapped in the thirty-year-old bodies of their future selves. With each other as their only constant, Charlotte and Renner discover all that’s changed in the time they’ve missed. Charlotte also learns there’s more to Renner than irritating-jock charm, and that reaching the next milestone isn’t as important as what happens in between.

Navigating a series of adventures and a confounding new normal, Charlotte and Renner will do whatever it takes to find a way back to seventeen. But when—and if—they do, what then?” –Provided by publisher.

Place a hold on: Woke up like this by Amy Lea

 


Book cover of Victory City by Salmon RushdieBrennan recommends: Victory City by Salman Rushdie.

Pampa Kampana is nine when her town is ravaged by a nameless war. With all the men killed the town’s women, including Pampa’s mother, burn themselves alive in an act of collective grief. The young girl decides then that “She would not sacrifice her body merely follow dead men into the afterworld” and would instead embrace life. At that moment she is possessed by a Goddess who speaks to her, through her, giving Pampa the path of her destiny. She will create the greatest city ever imagined, Bisnaga (from a bag full of seeds it turns out) and in it “You will fight to make sure no more women are ever burned in this fashion, and that men start considering women in new ways” along with other things that will come to pass over her supernaturally long life. In a very cheeky, very Rushdie manoeuvre our humble spinner of yarns has given the whole story away by page 8 yet manages to keep surprising you throughout Bisnaga’s two-plus centuries of existence.

With Pampa as its creator, Bisnaga becomes a city such as the world has never seen. A feminist utopia that embraces all religions, sexualities, and artistic expression, welcomes newcomers and incorporates their knowledge to help it thrive but over its existence, the old human ills of religious intolerance, fear, greed, and jealousy continue to battle for power. Few writers are better equipped to write on these foul ideologies than Rushdie, who has lost so much to them.

Historical fiction meets political send-up meets Rushdie’s sly humour and masterful storytelling. I loved Victory City.

Place a hold on: Victory City by Salman Rushdie

 


Book cover of Aurora by David Koepp

Emma recommends: Aurora by David Koepp.

David Koepp is perhaps better known for his screenplay work on movies such as Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds and Mission: Impossible. Aurora is his second novel, delivering a solid sci-fi thriller that is perhaps not surprisingly already being made into a Netflix movie.

Aubrey Wheeler has lived her entire life in the town of Aurora, Illinois. Recently divorced and now an unplanned single-parent to her rebellious stepson, Aubrey is just trying to get by one day at a time when a major solar storm hits earth and knocks out the power grids across most of the world. In Silicon Valley, her estranged brother Thom lives a very different life as an incredibly wealthy (and neurotic) CEO. As society slowly falls apart the longer the blackout goes on, the story follows the siblings as they navigate surviving a global emergency in very different ways. What emerges is ultimately a story about family, siblings and community. Perfect for fans of Blake Crouch.

Place a hold on: Aurora by David Koepp

 


Book cover of Man's search for meaning
Haru recommends: Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Viktor Frankl was not only an Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist, but also a Holocaust survivor. Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book describing his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps in the first section and his psychotherapeutic theory called logotherapy for finding meaning during the suffering in the second section.

Terrible as his experiences were, it reinforced one of his key ideas: Life is neither a quest for pleasure, nor a quest for power, but a quest for meaning. Several times in the course of the book, Frankl quoted the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” He identified three possible ways for meaning: doing something significant, caring for another person, or finding meaning by facing suffering with dignity. We are never left with nothing as long as we retain the freedom to choose how we respond in any given set of circumstances.

If you want to know more about concentration camps, what Frankl learnt from the Auschwitz experience, how to deal with pain, or how to cure a wounded soul, I believe this book will give you some fresh perspectives.

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of the The Art of Shralpinism
Gen recommends: The Art of Shralpinism: lessons from the mountains by Jeremy Jones.

Jeremy Jones needs no introduction to those familiar with the snowboarding world. But, for those who may have never heard of him, Jeremy Jones is regarded by many as a pioneer of splitboarding (the sport of ski touring with a snowboard). Over his career, he has made many first descents on mountains all around the world, starred in snowboarding films, and earned multiple awards for his exceptional skill at riding big mountain lines. Jeremy Jones also created Jones Splitboards, a well-respected company recognized for producing top-quality splitboards. Jones is also the founder of Protect Our Winters (POW), a company whose goal is to rally like-minded outdoor enthusiasts together to help protect the environment and act on climate change.

The Art of Shralpinism gives us an in-depth look into Jeremy Jones’s evolution from a young ski racer to a prominent freerider, and ultimately to his transition as a backcountry ski touring / alpinist mentor and environmental activist. Divided into three distinct parts – Wisdom, Science, and Art – the book delves into various aspects of Jeremy’s experiences, including insights on managing fear and minimizing risks, which I particularly enjoyed.

This book is filled with personal experiences, practical tips, beautiful art, and insights from some of the biggest names in climbing, alpinism and splitboarding. His book caters to outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. I can pick it up time and time again and still learn something new or find a new perspective, and it always serves as a gentle reminder to spend more time outdoors and savour the beauty of the places we get to explore.

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of Atlas: the story of Pa Salt Denisa recommends: Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt by Lucinda Riley and Harry Whittaker.

In September of last year, we got a new book into the library that caught my attention. I was going to read it but realized it was the final book in The Seven Sisters Series by Lucinda Riley. I hunted for all the books leading up to this one and read and loved every single one!

The D’apliese sisters are united by adoption to Pa Salt and are raised by him as well as Marina their live-in nanny whom they all call Ma. They live in a secluded castle on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. We learn of each of the sister’s lives and heritage through the seven books before this one. Lucinda’s writing made me feel like I knew each character personally. Each book has a story inside a story without being overwhelming on details. Atlas is the story of Pa Salt and the culmination of all their stories and is a delightful page turner.

This series is parts historical fiction, romance and mystery not only in each of the sister’s stories, but also, the grand mystery of who was Pa Salt, and how he came to adopt seven baby girls from all over the globe. I felt like I was whisked away by these stories, this series tops my reading experiences of 2023/24 so far.

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of Holly by Stephen King Emma recommends: Holly by Stephen King.

King’s latest novel centers around Holly Gibney, a main character from his earlier Finders Keepers trilogy and The Outsider. Admittedly I picked this novel up not realizing how much it would reference back to characters from the earlier novels (which I haven’t read) and it definitely would be beneficial to have some familiarity with Holly’s history, but having watched the TV adaptions Mr Mercedes and The Outsider I feel I had enough context that it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story too much.

After the death of her partner Bill Hodges, Holly is now running their detective agency, Finders Keepers. Set during the pandemic, Holly reluctantly takes on a new case to help a mother locate her missing daughter but soon discovers that this is not the only unsolved missing person’s case in the surrounding area.

I have only recently re-discovered King’s work so definitely found this a different style to what I remember from his earlier stories. If you care about solving the mystery for yourself, then this book is not for you – we are introduced to the culprits very early on and instead are following the game of cat and mouse that ensues between them and Holly. Much has also been made of King’s somewhat heavy inclusion of the political landscape during COVID and the Trump presidency. It is certainly true King’s personal opinions are evident throughout the novel but I found they were believable as part of Holly’s character rather than standing out as a political rant.

Fans are definitely divided on this one, but it was a win for me – and the glow in the dark cover was a fun but unexpected surprise upon turning the bedside lamp off one night!

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of Prophet Song by Paul LynchBrennan recommends: Prophet Song by Paul Lynch.

Irish author Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song has already drawn critical acclaim as well as the prestigious Booker prize for 2023, and now…..A Pemberton Library staff pick recommendation!!

Set-in modern-day Dublin we are dropped into the story following some undefined upheaval that has brought the hard right National Alliance Party (usually just “the Party”) to power. We watch the tale unfold through the eyes of Eilish Stack, microbiologist, mother of 4 and wife of Larry Stack a Teacher’s Union leader. When a union demonstration is violently broken up by the state police and Larry is disappeared (with many others) we, as readers can see what is going to happen but for Eilish it takes longer, too long, to realise the rules that have governed her whole life are no longer applicable. When she figures it out will it be too late?

The story is a compelling one, but the beauty of this novel is in the style and detail. There are chapters and the odd section break but no paragraphs to stop for a beat and breathe. The decision to chronicle the unravelling of a society through the eyes of a family as opposed to powerful figures forces you to feel what it might be like to have to leave everything that made you yourself. Most importantly it reminds us how quickly our safety, comfort, identity, dignity, our very humanity can be taken away from us once the ball starts rolling. There are far too many people in the world who found this out the hard way.

I’ve heard Prophet Song described as a dystopian novel but for me it’s a bit too close to reality for that distinction. For me this is a horror novel and a brilliant one at that.

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of Recipe for a good life Melissa recommends: Recipe for a Good Life by Lesley Crewe.

“Recipe for a Good Life” by Lesley Crewe is a delightful novel that not only captures the essence of Canadian pride but also skillfully explores the vast contrasts and diverse ways of life across the country. As a reader, I found it to be a refreshing experience to connect with the storyline based in Canada. Set in the 1950s, the story unfolds in both the cityscape of Montreal and the rural countryside of Cape Breton, providing a compelling exploration of the differences between provinces and the juxtaposition of city life versus country life.

The main character, Kitty, is a successful author facing a writer’s block and contemplating giving up on writing altogether. Her journey takes a pivotal turn when her publishers send her on a writing retreat to Cape Breton, a decision that leads to a captivating exploration of self-discovery and community. Kitty’s struggles, both as a writer and in her personal life, are portrayed with empathy and authenticity. The dynamics of her marriage to a famous actor, who is more focused on younger co-stars, add layers to the narrative.
The novel beautifully captures the transformative power of community and the sense of family that Kitty finds in the small rustic cabin and the people around her. “Recipe for a Good Life” is a great addition to Canadian literature, offering a compelling narrative that seamlessly weaves together themes of identity, community, and the creative process. Lesley Crewe’s storytelling prowess shines through, creating a novel that is not only a pleasant escape but also leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Place a hold on it here! 

 


Book cover of The Great Gatsby

Haru recommends: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a 1925 novel capturing the carelessness and the cruelty of the wealthy during America’s Jazz Age. It depicts first-person narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. Gatsby lives in a luxurious Long Island mansion and lavishes money on decadent parties for hundreds of people. And yet no one seems to know his background. He is rumoured to be everything from a German spy to a war hero, but he takes no heed of them. He cares for one person alone – Daisy Buchanan, his former lover and Tom Buchanan’s wife.
Daisy’s affections have to be acquired by success and have to be maintained by continued success. Love itself must take second place to material wealth. As Nick observes: ‘They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.’ But to Gatsby the dream of Daisy is worth taking blame for and suffering for. His dream has a nobility about it. That’s why at the end Nick said ‘They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together’ to Gatsby.

Fitzgerald was fascinated by ‘the American dream’, which insisted that any person from any background can reach the top, but he also recognised the absurdity, desperation and the futility of this ideal concept.

I know for certain that many of you have read this book, but it has meant the world to me and has to be one of my staff picks. This is the third time I’ve read it, and it has never once disappointed me. Every time I read it, I find something new that I like even more than the last.


Book cover of the The Art Thief Gen recommends: The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel.

The Art Thief is an incredible true story of one of the most successful art thieves in the world, Stéphane Breitwieser.
From 1994 to 2001 Stéphane Breitwieser with help from his girlfriend Anne-Catherine stole more than 300 items in museums and cathedrals all over Europe, an estimated worth of roughly 2 billion dollars!
What makes Breitwieser different from other art thieves, other than the prolific amount of pieces he took, is that he had no desire to sell any of them instead, he kept them all stored in the two-room attic of his mother’s house, where he could admire them whenever he pleased.
Breitwieser’s arrogance and lack of caution led to his capture, trial, and conviction. His compulsion to steal was founded on the belief that he alone could appreciate and safeguard these historical treasures. Ironically, his mother and Anne-Catherine damaged or destroyed many of the pieces by throwing them into a river or burning them.
“The Art Thief” has secured a place in my top five favourite reads from last year. This captivating book, though short, had me thoroughly entertained and left a lasting impression on me. I highly recommend it as a must-read!

Cover of the book Dog Tricks even you can teach you dog. Staff Pet Pick Saturday! Emma’s puppy Baxter recommends: Dog Tricks Even You Can Teach Your Pet: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Your Pet to Sit, Catch, Fetch, and Impress by Carina MacDonald.

“Toys, treats, and techniques are the focus of this book on dog care, which teaches readers more than a hundred dog tricks designed to delight and exercise dogs and their owners. Whether one has a difficult dog or a charm-school puppy, part of the fun is how much a pup wants to play. With Dog Tricks in hand, anyone can teach a dog a new set of tricks. Featuring 450 step-by-step, full-color photos, the book first establishes training basics, and then shows how to enhance core training sessions with classic tricks such as “shake hands” and “roll over.” And it covers advanced obedience games; agility training; jumping, retrieving, and digging tricks; flashy frisbee tricks—and useful tricks such as finding the remote, retrieving the newspaper, and cornering the cat. — From Publisher.

Book cover of Did you hear about Kitty Karr? Denisa recommends: Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? By Crystal Smith Paul.

If you are a fan of historical fiction and the glitz of old Hollywood, then this is a book for you. It begins in 2017 with Elise and her family in their sequestered home in Hollywood. Dealing with the grief and loss of a close family friend, Kitty Karr, who has left Elise to sort out her affairs. Kitty, the White icon of the silver screen, has decided in her death to pass on her multimillion-dollar estate to Elise and her two sisters. This has made it harder for them to avoid paparazzi as Elise is also a famous actress.
Then we go way back to 1934 and meet Hazel the seventh child in a family of eleven. We learn of the segregation and oppression faced by Hazel’s family by the White people at the time in North Carolina and all over the United States. Hazel suffers a tragic loss and the very violation she was warned of by her community. Not only oppressed by race but gender as well, Hazel does her best to give her child the life she could never have.
In digging through Kitty’s estate, as the closest to her Elise uncovers a shocking truth. She grapples with this knowledge and what she should do with it. Find out what happens, and put a hold on your copy today.

Place a hold on it here! 

 


Book cover of DoppelgangerBrennan recommends: Doppelganger by Naomi Klein.

One of Canada’s most successful cultural exports, Naomi Klein, has lent her considerable talents to one of the day’s most pressing political/cultural problems that “Western Societies” face today, the fact that we can’t agree on what reality is let alone what we might do about it.
In Doppelganger: A trip into the mirror world, Klein follows her online doppelganger, Naomi Wolf (One-time liberal feminist darling, now go to commentator for all things COVID hoax related) into the mirror world out of the frustration of being constantly mistaken for someone with polar opposite views. What begins as morbid curiosity during COVID lockdown turns into a full-blown fascination with a parallel reality blooming on-line centered around lock-down and mask mandates. Led by a seemingly odd assortment of wellness influencers, cross-fit enthusiasts, Karens, small business owners and, yes, white supremacists this digital movement grows exponentially into a force that can mobilize enough people to shut down Ottawa.
Klein is one of the world’s most recognizable leftists, but this book is far from a one-sided piling on against the “deplorables” on the other side of the mirror. She has plenty of hard words for the closed minded and often smug eye rolling liberals who gave up on their skepticism of power for fear of being lumped in with the conspiracy theorists leaving people with valid concerns ready to be mobilized and monetized by cynical actors.
Given space, there is so much I could write about this book. Klein has a gift of sifting through the confusing noise of any political moment and painting a picture that you could feel but just couldn’t put your finger on until you saw it come together.

Place a hold on it here! 

 


Book cover of No two personsMelissa recommends: No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister.

This book? Speechless. I can’t remember the last time I devoured a read this fast. Props to Jess, my coworker (on mat leave), for the spot-on recommendation. I was craving either a breezy page-turner or a wild ride, and this one nailed it. Erica Bauermeister’s “No Two Persons” is a different breed. It weaves a tale around another book, “Theo,” creating a sort of literary scavenger hunt. Picture this: a mix of mystery and old-school who-dun-it vibes. As you navigate the chapters, you’re piecing together connections, much like finding Easter eggs in a story.

Have you ever read a book, shared it, and suddenly it’s everywhere? That’s the essence here. I’ve often wondered about the journey of a book left behind – in airports, hotels, trains – and how it touches different lives. The plot unfolds through nine diverse characters – a writer, a new mom, an actor, an artist, a diver, a homeless teen, a bookseller, a grieving widower, and a ‘coordinator.’ Each chapter introduces a new life snippet. It’s like reading a collection of short stories, all subtly tied by “Theo.” The beauty is it leaves you hungry for more about each character. For a gripping read with a plot that’s anything but ordinary, “No Two Persons” is my top recommendation. Dive in – you won’t regret it.


Book cover of What I talk about when I talk about running

Haru recommends: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

Since I’ve recommended a short novel and a long novel of Haruki Marakami, I thought it would be fitting to put you onto a wonderful non-fiction book of his. These three staff picks in a row probably gave you a brief introduction about his works, so I won’t talk about him anymore (but please forgive me if I broke my promise).

As the title says, this book is about running, but not a treatise on how to be healthy. Instead, this is a book where Murakami has gathered his thoughts about what running has meant to him. In 1982, he sold his jazz bar and devoted himself to writing, so he began running to keep fit. He was 33 back then. A year later, he had completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and ultramarathon.

For him, “running is both exercise and a metaphor.” Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit, he raised the bar, and by clearing each level, he elevated himself. He didn’t consider himself a great runner, but it wasn’t his concern. What mattered was whether he improved over yesterday. In long-distance running, the only opponent he had to beat was himself, the way he used to be. I am no runner and have no desire to be, but I must share how much I am touched and incredibly moved by his story.

I know how boring running can be, so this book may not appeal to everyone. Still, it was an interesting account in which he described a nearly lifelong connection between running and how running impacts his writing and between aging and the potential decline of creative and physical power. Just like he wrote, “No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough, and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act”. This book inspired me with endurance.

📚Get the e-book or the audiobook through the Libby app! 📚

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of Never whistle at nightGen recommends: Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology.

Never Whistle at Night is a bone-chilling collection of horror stories written by 26 talented indigenous authors, including Richard Van Camp, Waubgeshig Rice, and Cherie Dimaline.

Often, I find that anthologies are a mixed bag, and I’m usually left feeling a little underwhelmed, but that was definitely not the case with this collection. This anthology is not your typical horror collection. It goes beyond just scaring you and dives deep into indigenous lore, culture and traditions. I was impressed by all of the stories in this collection. It’s hard to pick a favourite among so many talented authors, but trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Whether you’re a horror fan or simply looking to broaden your literary horizons, Never Whistle at Night is a must-read!

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of The ferrymanEmma recommends: The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

I have heard many wonderful things about Cronin’s Passage trilogy so I was very intrigued by his latest novel The Ferryman. However, as someone who has commitment issues with anything over 400 pages, I had been deterred by the sheer size of it calling to me from the New Items display. Psychologically fooling myself by downloading the eBook on Libby, I was able to give it a try, and I am so glad I didn’t let that page count deter me after all!

Set in a dystopian future on a mysterious island called Prospera, The Ferryman is a multi-layered science fiction novel about a group of survivors on a hidden island utopia—where the truth isn’t what it seems. Citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives, safe from the horrors of a deteriorating world and our central character, Proctor Bennet, enjoys a satisfying career as a ferryman, gently escorting people through the “retirement” process when the time comes to move on from island life. However, when the day comes to “retire” his own father, he is left with a cryptic message that starts to unravel everything he believes to be true about his life on Prospera. There is so much going on in this book it is hard to summarise without spoiling the plot, and if you are a fan of any of Blake Crouch’s sci-fi thrillers – then you know what I mean. Solid 5 stars!!

Place a hold on it here!

 


Book cover of The very secret society of irregular witchesDenisa recommends: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna.

Samhain may be over, but my love of all things witchy is not. Many of the books I’ve read on the topic of witches are quite heavy in that they highlight the atrocities of the witch hunts in some way. Then there are books like Sangu’s that highlight the fantasy aspect of magical witches. I read this over Halloween this year; it was the ideal cozy autumn read.

Mika Moon is a witch living in Britain, an orphan raised by Primrose, an elder witch who had very strict rules about keeping who they are a secret. Drawing attention was strictly forbidden, as is congregating together, but as an adult, Mika Moon has an online account where she posts videos pretending to be a witch that she assumes no one will take seriously. Until one day she receives a message inviting her to Nowhere house to teach three young witches to control their unpredictable powers.

Mika Moon is used to keeping people at arm’s length and disappearing when they get too close to her secret. At Nowhere House the orphaned witches are cared for by a close-knit group of people that have dedicated themselves to their safety and upbringing. Mika moves in to try her luck at passing on her knowledge, and she just might learn a few things about love and friendship along the way.

Grab your favourite mug, turn on the fire, and heat up an elixir in your cauldron, it’s reading time.


Book Cover of Moon of the Turning Leaves Brennan recommends: Moon of the Turning Leaves by Waubgeshig Rice.

About a dozen years after the end of the world as we knew it and the horrible winter that followed, so eerily depicted in the novel Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice brings us back up north where Evan Whitesky and his family along with a handful of families from the old reserve have set up a new home built from scratch, apart from the sight of that terrible winter. With the ancestral knowledge they had collectively held on to and what they learned the hard way, the small group are living well in a world where the lights never came back on. However, after all the years in their new home, there are fewer fish in the lake, and they have to go farther to find game to hunt. They will soon outgrow their environment.

A decision is made to send a small party Zhaawnong (“Down South” in Anishinaabemowin) to find a way back to the home on the northern shores of Lake Huron that their people were forced out of generations back. The journey will be long, and nobody knows the dangers that await them. A crew of six is chosen. Led by Evan, the party includes his daughter Nangohns. Distrusting the roads and who might be on them the walkers stick to the bush as much as possible. On their journey, they will meet others. Some good, some very bad. Friends will be gained, others lost but with enough courage, skill, and faith they might make it to a place where they can grow, not just survive.

The 2 Moon novels together feel like something new to me. There is a thread of hope running through the darkness uncommon in the genre. In a way it makes perfect sense, these characters are all descendants of people who suffered their own apocalypse, The end of the world as they knew it. Those who survived passed on what they knew, strengthening the next generation. No apocalypse is total. Hope lives on.

Place a hold on it here! 

 


Book cover of Dasiy DarkerMelissa recommends: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney.

Daisy Darker is a gripping story. Having read three thrillers in a row, this one left me with a vision that I can’t seem to shake. The Darker Family comes together on Halloween at a secluded island to celebrate Nana’s 80th birthday. Nana Darker was given a palm reading that foretold that she was going to die when she turned 80. She was convinced this was her last birthday, with the Darker family coming together to celebrate her and find out how her assets would be divided among the family.

Nana is a wealthy author of children’s books; her most successful book is about her granddaughter, Daisy Darker. All families have some dark secrets, and as this book unfolds, each family member shares their relationship with Nana and the impact that they were not chosen as a lead character for Nana’s book.

As she predicted, Nana dies. With the family shocked by her death, they work together to solve the mystery of Nana’s death. I really enjoyed how the author used Nana Darker’s writing style in her picture book to provide clues to her death. As the evening progresses, another family member is found dead, with a poem that reads into the nature of their personality.

I enjoyed how the story unfolded. Tiny breadcrumbs of information are left for the reader to pick up on. As each new character was introduced, I constantly asked myself, “Could it be them?” Take this book out to see who did it, all while enjoying a quirky Nana writing that lives long after she has died.

Pick up Daisy Darker for a great mystery.

Place a hold on it here! 

 


Book Cover of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageHaru recommends: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.

Tsukuru had four best friends in high school. Aside from him, their last names all contained a colour. Colorlessness not only means Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it, but also refers to how he perceived himself. He repeatedly described himself as an empty vessel with a boring face and an inconspicuous personality. They all tried to maintain the group as an orderly, harmonious community, but one day his four closest friends announced they didn’t want to ever see him again. It was a sudden, decisive declaration. They gave no explanation.
Tsukuru didn’t dare ask and was in the throes of contemplating suicide for five months. He recovered and continued with his life but avoided visiting his hometown and was afraid of being hurt again. At the urging of Tsukuru’s new girlfriend, he found and confronted his friends one at a time. His pilgrimage was a journey to find out why he was abruptly rejected by his four closest friends 16 years ago. He learned much from and about his friends during the pilgrimage (but I won’t spoil it for you).
Personally, this novel is about losing people they truly love. Although they cannot erase or change history, I am glad Tsukuru eventually could say “Not everything was lost in the flow of time. We truly believed in something back then, and we knew we were the kind of people capable of believing in something – with all our hearts. And that kind of hope will never simply vanish”.

Accompanying us on the pilgrimage was a piece of Listz music, “Le mal du pays” from “Years of Pilgrimage”, that White used to play, a tune that translates roughly as homesickness. Tsukuru always listened to Lazer Berman’s version. Hunkering down with this haunting music, the book and a glass of whiskey would be perfect to enter the magical world of Murakami.

Place a hold on it here! 

 


Gen recommends: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix.
It’s October, so for me, that means it’s the perfect time to pick up a scary read! My go-to horror author? Grady Hendrix. He writes the genre like no one else. Hendrix is exceptionally skilled at combining outlandish storylines, humour and gore into perfectly crafted nightmare-inducing stories. After brother and sister Louise and Mark lose their parents in a horrible accident, they must put aside their differences to sell the family home. But when the home doesn’t want to be sold, things start to get bizarrely out of hand (think hand puppets from hell, creepy Annabelle-style dolls and angry taxidermied squirrels). More creepy than scary, this book might just be the perfect read for the spooky season. I loved it!

Lessons in Chemistry book cover
Emma recommends: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.
Aside from definitely breaking my number one rule of not judging a book by it’s cover, I typically also steer away from new releases that get lots of hype, for fear of disappointment. However, when the holds on our multiple copies of Lessons in Chemistry showed no signs of slowing and everyone I spoke to raved about it, I decided it was definitely worth a closer (yet sceptical) look.
Fast forward 48 hours after my Libby eBook copy has been checked out and I have just completed my quickest read of the year so far. Yes, this book is that enjoyable!
Soon to be made into an Apple TV miniseries, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a female chemist struggling to be taken seriously as a scientist in 1960s California, only to become a household name as a TV cooking show host.
Perfect for fans of “Where’d You Go Bernadette“ and “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”, this is a highly entertaining, yet thought-provoking and observant debut novel!

a house in the sky book coverDenisa recommends: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett.

Originally published in 2013, this is a memoir of a chronic traveller turned reporter, Amanda. She grew up in a small town in Alberta, and perhaps some of her will to survive, and resilience was due in part to the violent home life she had to endure. She took solace in some secondhand stacks of National Geographic magazines that showcased some of the most remote countries in the world. When violence exploded at home, or kids teased her for being poor and dirty, she didn’t care because she knew she would one day travel to these remote places.

At the age of nineteen, she saved money and started to backpack through Laos, Latin America, India, and Bangladesh. She would return home only to re-fuel and plan her next trip. Eventually, she started to work on a career reporting in war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. Amanda had been warned about Somalia being one of the most dangerous places to work with its fundamentalist factions and active fighting.

On her fourth day there, she and another photographer friend were kidnapped and held for ransom for 460 days. This memoir takes us in detail through her experience of trying to survive through starvation, torture, and rape. Amanda uses her grit, her unfailing glimmers of hope and resilience to survive even after a failed escape attempt. She often escaped to what she called the house in the sky to think of all the people she loved and keep herself alive.

Place a hold on it here!

 


The Circle book cover Brennan recommends: The Circle by Katherena Vermette.

The Circle is the highly anticipated final installment of a trilogy that began with The Break and continued with The Strangers, both of which I reviewed as staff picks.

Quick catch-up: The series is centred in Winnipeg’s North End, a largely indigenous neighbourhood that’s been economically neglected for years and consequently has a reputation for poverty, drugs and violence. It is a brutal act of violence that begins the story and serves as the lynchpin for the trilogy. In The Break, we meet the Charles/Traverse’s, the family of the victim. The Strangers is about the family of the perpetrator. Rarely in the first two books do the families intersect, but at the very end of the second novel, there is a bit of a hint that things are about to change.

The Circle begins with the release of Phoenix Stranger from prison. She’s served her time for the horrific crime she committed and is ready to get her son back. Her freedom, then, abrupt disappearance set off a chain reaction that bring these two families back into one another’s orbit again and it’s anybody’s guess then.

If the title wasn’t enough hint this book takes inspiration from restorative justice healing circles which works perfectly for Vermette’s style of each chapter being narrated by the character themselves. We can feel and see how this horrible crime has changed the people involved. But the best thing she manages over the trilogy is to call into question when the crime started. How do people like Phoenix come to be, and if the way we do “justice” just creates more of them, is it really justice or just vengeance?

Kathrena Vermette is one of my very favourite authors, and I loved this book just like I loved the first two.

Place a hold on it here!

 


In a thousand different ways book cover Melissa recommends: In A Thousand Different Ways by Cecelia Ahern.

I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. How would you walk through the world if you saw colours for everyone’s emotions? Could you trust people around you? How would you confront someone if their colours contradicted their words?

In A Thousand Different Ways, author Cecelia Ahern showcases how a gift of experiencing others’ emotions in colour. I was fascinated as I imagined how a day would feel with so much visual input. Would I experience it as a gift, OR would it be a curse? Would my days turn melancholy and debilitating, feeling all the hurt and pain in the world? How do you protect yourself? Yet being able to see the connections between everyday people, if used in a positive way, can lead to great opportunities.

If you’re not a believer in this type of synesthesia this book would not be for you. Pick this book up if you are curious to experience how many colours one would see from day-to-day interactions.

Place a hold on it here!

 


Men without women book cover Haru recommends: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami.

Murakami is a Japanese writer. Many of his books are a mix of fantasy and reality, which he uses to explore themes like loneliness, alienation and self-discovery in an interesting and imaginative way. Also, his works often include references to Western pop culture, such as by integrating Western music, food, and literature.

This book is a collection of seven short stories about men who are without women in a romantic or sexual relationship. His characters are devoid of psychological peace. Compared to his other books, these are more grounded in reality. Stand out stories for me are “Kino” and “Yesterday”.

One day, Kino went home and discovered his wife’s affair with his best friend at work. He left home with a should bag. The next day, he quit his job and decided to open a bar. When his divorce was finalized, his wife came to his bar to settle a few last matters. She said sorry, but Kino was unable to even understand the meaning of the apology. After encountering different mysterious people and being on a journey, he realised he wasn’t hurt enough when he should have been. He admitted to himself, “When I should have felt real pain, I stifled it. I didn’t want to take it on, so I avoid facing up to it. Which is why my heart is so empty now”. This part deeply moved me. Sometimes, it takes courage to feel your feelings.

If you like Murakami’s short stories, I also recommend “First Person Singular” of his.

Place a hold on it here!

 


None of this is true by Lisa Jewell

Gen recommends: None of This is True by Lisa Jewell.

None of This is True is a dark psychological tale about two women who discover they share the same birthday in a chance meeting at a local pub. This chance encounter leads to a podcast where shared secrets and confessions become the motive for murder.

Lisa Jewell is a master of suspense; I was so hooked that the pages practically turned themselves. The characters are all hiding something, and the narrators are unreliable, leaving you questioning what is real, who is lying, and whether anyone is actually telling the truth. If you enjoy dark psychological thrillers like “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides or “The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin, this book is perfect for you. It’s undoubtedly one of her best yet!


Emma recommends: The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
This week’s staff pick is undoubtedly “an oldie but a goodie” – first published in 2003, The Time Traveler’s Wife was Audrey Niffenegger’s debut novel and has since been made into a movie and, more recently, an HBO mini-series.
The story centres around art student Claire and librarian Henry (yes, I know! Another staff pick with a librarian…but in my defence, this book was first a favourite of mine in the very early days of my library career and in fact, may be the very first of my “books about books and/or librarians” trend!).
Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36 and have been married since Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible right? Henry has a genetic condition where he finds himself displaced in time being pulled to periods of emotional significance in both his past and his future. The story is told from the perspectives of both Henry and Clare as we learn of the effects his “time-traveling” takes on their lives and relationship in both the past, present and future.
With my burgeoning TBR pile, I rarely earmark a book for future re-reading, but this is definitely one I have on my own bookshelf for future Emma to enjoy again when the time is right!

Photo of Mr Fergus and the book Breaking Cat News.

Staff PET Pick Saturday! Denisa’s cat Mr. Fergus recommends: Breaking Cat News: Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats by Georgia Dunn.

Mr. Fergus recommends Georgia’s junior graphic novel for a cat reporter’s perspective on house life. Topics Fergus particularly enjoyed: empty boxes, things knocked off shelves, warm laundry, empty food bowls at 5:31 am, things that make paw prints, and the trifecta of two-stepping combined with purring and drooling to wake humans up very early and more. This book is fun for the whole family of humans and feline friends. If you like this one, there are many more to explore, from Elvis, Puck and Lupin. Find them in the junior graphic novel area of the children’s library.
Fergus gives it his paw stamp of approval. 🐾

Book cover Truth Telling by Michelle Good Brennan recommends: Truth Telling: Seven Conversations About Indigenous Life in Canada by Michelle Good.

In 2021 Michelle Good took the Canadian literary world by storm with her debut novel, Five Little Indians. Lauded by critics and readers alike, the book struck a major chord with Canadians and managed to bring the conversation on the horrors of this country’s residential school system and its continuing devastation into thousands of homes in a different way than news pieces or reports were able to.
Truth Telling is Good’s attempt to continue and broaden the conversation. A collection of seven essays covering some of the most important issues facing Indigenous people in Canada today and the historical dirty dealing practiced by our officials that has locked the rules of this crooked game into policy.
The Sixties Scoop, the Land Back movement, the historical roots of the continuing MMIW epidemic, the ascendance of Indigenous literature & the harm caused by Pretendians are just some of the topics tackled. Many of the subjects have a personal connection for Good and it allows the reader to feel the effects of these policies in real life as opposed to just being tragic abstractions.
While there is a level of anger in these essays, how could there not be, they are not meant to scold the reader but to honestly engage and educate. Good has done a marvelous job of distilling a lot of history and context into highly readable, bite sized essays. The perfect antidote to the “Why don’t they just get over it already?” question we’ve all heard or maybe even asked ourselves. Read this book, and you’ll be more than able to answer that question the next time you hear it.

Book cover of Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club Melissa recommends: Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal.

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club was a great light summer read. Following four generations of a Supper Club, the only restaurant in the area with a focus on home cooking. Not only is this restaurant a community hub the menu features are set depending on the day, fish Fridays and prime rib Saturdays. I felt like I was in the middle of the restaurant as generations flowed through the Supper Club. This restaurant hosts the stories and lives of many members in the community. It was engaging as the story progressed as you are taken through this town’s history with the Supper Club owners, their children, and their grandchildren. Women had a large role in this story as they were the backbone for generations of the Supper Club, keeping the restaurant running and offering a community space for everyone. As chain restaurants make their way into small communities, Supper Clubs are facing new challenges to keep up with the competition. This story adds a layer of complexity due to the family connection to the new fast-food chain. Can a small-town Supper Club reinvent itself to keep the integrity of the locals while making sure they are making a profit? For a light summer read, this is a great story of a family overcoming adversity and rising when all the chips are stacked against you.

Place a hold on it here!

 


Cover of the book the First Forty Days Jess recommends: The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou.

Since this is my last Staff Pick before I start my maternity leave, I thought it would be fitting to show off some of the reading I’ve been doing in preparation for my very first baby! “The First Forty Days” is a guide on how to have the most restful and nourishing postpartum period. I really loved the first couple chapters where the author shares traditional knowledge from cultures around the world as well her own experience in her postpartum periods. Though I think most of us would find zuo yuezi, the traditional Chinese practice of “confinement” in the postpartum period, a little too intense and difficult to practice, I do believe our cultural narrative around motherhood and “bouncing back” needs a heavy rewrite. I love that this book encourages women to set boundaries around visitors and to actually take time to think about what SHE wants and needs as a new mother (whether she has older children or is a first-time mom, this is time that she won’t ever get back). If you have someone in your life that has a new baby, I encourage you to think about what the birthing parent needs! I think most parents would agree that as cute as baby things are, what they really need is support in the form of cleaning, cooking, or a listening ear. I assure you that mom will offer you to hold her baby as soon as she’s ready! I can say with certainty that I won’t be following this protocol to the “T”, but I do look forward to trying some of these recipes (I’ll probably even prep and freeze them beforehand) and to really prioritizing rest in the weeks after welcoming my baby into the world.

Place it on hold here! 

 


Book cover of The Whisper on the Night Wind by Adam Shoalts

Gen recommends: The Whisper on the Night Wind by Adam Shoalts

Traverspine, a ghost town hidden deep in the Mealy Mountains of central Labrador, witnessed a bizarre haunting by large, unidentified creatures almost a hundred years ago. There were reports of strange tracks, unearthly cries, missing sled dogs, and children being stalked by a terrifying grinning animal. Adam Shoalts, a contemporary explorer and expert in wilderness folklore, delves into the unique, century-old story, trekking through the rugged wilderness of Labrador in search of answers.

This book offers a thrilling blend of adventure, history, and ghostly intrigue. It’s a truly captivating read, sure to satisfy anyone who loves wilderness exploration, folklore, and epic quests. Highly recommended!

Place it on hold here!


Book Cover of Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Emma recommends: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

This was my first novel by Barbara Kingsolver and while ambitious in size for me (I get intimidated by anything over 400 pages – especially on eBook when that 21 day loan period is often non-negotiable!) it was worth the effort. After talking to a few avid Kingsolver fans that couldn’t get into this latest novel, I was curious how things would go and while certainly slow to start, it is without a doubt worth sticking with.

Demon Copperhead is a modern retelling of Dicken’s David Copperfield, but the Dickensian classic is in no way a pre-requisite to reading this version. Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, the story follows Damon (Demon), a young boy born to a teenaged single mother in one of the poorest parts of Lee County, Virginia. Poverty and addiction are central to his childhood but Demon is a fighter, armed with his sharp sense of humour and talent for survival. As we follow Demon’s story into his teenage years, the damage caused by the opioid crisis ripples through all aspects of his life and with bad decision after bad decision, the outlook for Demon is bleak. But Demon is an incredibly likeable character and that will leave you rooting for him to the end.

At times heavy and overwhelming, it would be hard to describe Demon Copperhead as an “enjoyable” read – an emotional roller-coaster? For sure! But a journey well-worth taking.

Place it on hold here!


Denisa recommends: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan.

I love it when I read a book and am shocked at the turn of events halfway through. That is my experience of reading this book. I’m drawn to books where you get to know the characters inside and out, and we begin in Mad Honey getting to know Olivia Mcafee. Olivia is married to a cardiothoracic surgeon with whom she shares a son named Asher. When her husband’s darker side is revealed, she is faced with a choice: stay and live in fear or flee and start over.

We also get to know Lily, who moves to New Hampshire with her mother for her final year of high school. No stranger to starting over, Lily becomes involved with Asher, Olivia’s teenage son. We get to know and love Lily and all she has been through to become herself and then, she is dead. Asher is being questioned, and Olivia is certain he is innocent. But there is a small sliver of doubt in her mind, she worries the violence he witnessed at the hands of his father in his first five years may have made too much of an imprint.

This book was heartbreaking, enlightening and a suspenseful page-turner with many plot twists.

Place it on hold here!


Darren the Bearded Dragon recommends: Dragons love tacos by Adam Rubin.

‘This deliciously funny read-aloud is an unforgettable tale of new friends and the perfect snack that will make you laugh until spicy salsa comes out of your nose.

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.’ — Provided by publisher.

Place it on hold here!


Shevonne recommends: The Push by Ashley Audrain.

The Push by Ashley Audrain is a psychological drama, a story told from the perspective of a mother whose idea of motherhood and parenting is not at all what she was expecting. This book touches on trauma, abuse and mental illness. It explores nature vs nurture, societal pressures on mothers, loss and grief. The book jumps from present to past, telling the story of Blythe and her daughter Violet, while also exploring the childhoods of Blythe, her mother and grandmother.

After giving birth to Violet, Blythe doesn’t feel the connection or bond with her. She wonders if something is wrong with Violet. Why is Violet behaving the way she is? Why does Violet seem to not care for Blythe? As the story develops, we see how this affects Blythe’s parenting, marriage, career and relationships with others.

This book was tense and difficult to read through, but captivating at the same time. If you enjoyed We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver (also a movie), you’ll enjoy The Push… but be prepared for tears!

Place it on hold here!


Brennan recommends: Cormac McCarthy.

This week the world lost one of its most celebrated novelists. Cormac McCarthy died in his home at the age of 89. Widely considered the greatest American author of his generation and the literary heir to Faulkner and Melville, McCarthy was first and foremost a writer’s writer. Since his passing, it’s impossible to open a paper or scroll your feeds without seeing memorials quoting other artistic icons praising McCarthy’s work.

With 57 years between his first novel, The Orchard Keeper (1965) and The Long Awaited duo The Passenger/Stella Maris (2022) it is common to view his work in two parts. His early work, the Appalachian period and his later works, the Southwest period. While the early works were critically acclaimed it wasn’t until his 6th novel, All the Pretty Horses, a cornerstone of the Southwest period that commercial success came.

Known for a magisterial command of the English language, a unique writing structure where an unpunctuated sentence might run the better part of a page and dialogue that might have you rereading to figure out who said what. His characters don’t give shortcuts to their motivations with internal dialogue and his over arching themes are no less than the natures of humanity and God, the notion of free will or predestination and the original sin of America.

McCarthy doesn’t do beach reads. His work is often described as bleak, which I can understand, it is heavy and bloody. Hell, life was never meant to be easy. To call it bleak would be to ignore the awe-inspiring, often terrible, fated beauty that McCarthy brings to life with his immense talent.

Cormac McCarthy is my favourite novelist. If you haven’t read him, you should. You might love it or hate it, but you will not be unaffected.


Mikhaila Recommends: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy.

When we were kids, my younger brother would frequently get told he looked like Macaulay Culkin. Looking back, I don’t necessarily think this was true, just that he also had blonde hair and blue eyes and Mac’s gobsmacked “Home Alone” face was unavoidable in the early 90’s. It was an easy comparison. The point of this story is that Macaulay Culkin was the biggest child star of my childhood, and my childhood was a long time ago. So, before putting “I’m Glad My Mom Died” on the order list, I didn’t know Jennette McCurdy from Adam’s wife.

Jennette McCurdy was a child star. She played the best friend, Sam, to the title character of the Nickelodeon show “iCarly “(circa 2007) and went on to star in the spinoff “Sam & Cat” alongside Arianna Grande. To put it into perspective for us elder millennials, these were basically the “Boy Meets World” of Gen Z.

It is a well-known fact that behind every child star is a pushy show mom whose unattainable standards encourage self-destructive behaviours from their child as they attempt to navigate the pressure cooker that is child stardom. Some of them make it out seemingly unscathed–see Hillary Duff–while others are not so lucky–has anyone heard from Amanda Bynes lately? And, need I mention the 27 club?

Jennette McCurdy’s manipulative and abusive mother was no exception; she was the worst kind of show mom, a fact that Jennette only realised after her beloved mother’s passing and a lot of therapy. In this raw memoir, McCurdy confronts the damage done by a narcissistic mother trying to live out her own dreams through her only daughter. A great read for fans of Sarah Polley, Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls.

And, in case you are wondering, I saw MacCaulay Culkin perform at the Rickshaw with his pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band, Pizza Underground, a few years ago and he also seems to be doing alright. It was one of the best nights of my life.

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Melissa recommends: The School for Good Mothers By Jessamine Chan.

Wow is all I can say since finishing this book. It was completely different than I had imagined. Author Jessamine Chan really did capsulate the story from the title “The School for Good Mothers”. I believed that the story would take me on a journey of highlighting the characteristics of what it takes to be a good mother. The main character Frida Liu, is a daughter of Chinese immigrant parents and a new mother to toddler, Harriet. Frida has a very bad day, and the consequences of her actions are to attend The School for Good Mothers. Using Artificial Intelligence, scientific data, and American cultural values, the schools’ primary goal is to ‘shape’ the students into good mothers. This book challenged my perspective on many themes within the book. What is a good mother? How do race and culture influence the upbringing of children, and what is my responsibility to learn from different cultures than my own. This book has a heaviness to it that has me continuing to think about the storyline long after I finished it.

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Jess recommends: House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.

Linus Baker spends his days between his small home, with his devious cat and old vinyl collection, and his job working at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). He takes great pride in his work, rarely taking a day off in 17 years, visiting orphanages and ensuring the youth are properly cared for and then returning to his desk to fill out his reports while staring longingly at his beach-themed mouse pad…

“Don’t you wish you were here?”…
That is until he’s summoned by Extremely Upper Management and assigned a highly classified case. He doesn’t know where he’s going, who he’ll meet or what his assignment truly is until he arrives.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting story about finding where you feel you belong, your chosen family, in an unexpected time, in an unexpected place (with a magical twist). It’s about challenging yourself and discovering who you truly are. I fell in love with these characters, especially Linus and the way his character grows throughout the chapters. This book left me feeling warm and fuzzy, a very wholesome book with a beautiful ending.

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Gen recommends: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson.

“Everyone in my family has killed someone. Some of us, the high achievers, have killed more than once. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but it is the truth. Some of us are good, others are bad, and some just unfortunate.

I’m Ernest Cunningham. Call me Ern or Ernie. I wish I’d killed whoever decided our family reunion should be at a ski resort, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Have I killed someone? Yes. I have. Who was it? Let’s get started.”

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is unlike any mystery I have ever read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Set in a ski resort in Australia, this witty and thought-provoking thriller explores a dysfunctional family’s dark secrets and buried truths. It’s a fun whodunnit that keeps you guessing until the very end!

Stevenson’s writing is sharp, and his characters are complex and intriguing. I’d recommend it to any mystery fans looking for a fresh and original take on the classic family drama.

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Emma recommends: The Change by Kristen Miller.

The Change by Kirsten Miller tells the story of three women in their forties who discover that with midlife changes comes new types of empowerment that bring them together to uncover the evil that has been lurking in their wealthy beach town.

While the story has its flaws in places, it addresses serious issues without taking itself too seriously. Overall I found this an enjoyable, fast-paced read, and I think Miller herself sums it up perfectly when she describes it as a “feel-good feminist revenge fantasy with witches!”

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Denisa recommends: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book was highly recommended to me, and I, too, found it to be a phenomenal read.

The book begins in the 1940s in Ireland and spans Cyril Avery’s life from the womb to 2015. His Mother is a teenager and pregnant out of wedlock, and so the story begins with her being brought in front of her church to be publicly shamed and ousted from the rural community she lives in with no help from her five brothers or Mother and Father. This sets the tone for the role religion plays in Ireland at the time and spurs Catherine Goggin’s move to become a Dubliner. Her child Cyril is adopted, thanks to a Nun, by the Averys, a banker and a chain-smoking writer.

Cyril floats through life mainly alone in his attic room, neglected by the Averys and becomes enamored with Julian Woodbead, a friend of the family. From here, we move through Cyril’s life as he attempts to know himself in a time in Ireland that is un-accepting of anyone different. John Boyne has a way of bringing his characters to life. Will Cyril find his place in the country he lives in; will he find a home and family?

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Brennan recommends: VenCo by Cherie Dimaline.

Lucky St. James isn’t living her best life. She should be writing but is working crummy temp jobs to pay the rent on the run-down Toronto apartment she shares with her increasingly dependent Grandma. She shouldn’t be alone but can’t work up the courage to make a move on her friend Malcolm the video shop clerk, she shouldn’t be drinking as much, either. Lucky isn’t so much living as treading water, and a recent eviction notice means she might not be able to do that much longer. She’s caught in a vicious cycle of stressful monotony that she doesn’t see any way out of. Then one night, while doing laundry, she finds it.

A tiny souvenir spoon engraved with a witch that, as Lucky is about to find out, marks her as the sixth of seven witches that will form a prophesied CoVen (get it; VenCo) that can save the world.

What follows is a road trip with her grandmother Stella in tow to Salem (of course), where she is introduced to the rest of the members of the fledgling coven and finds out it is up to her to find the seventh witch and fast! If Lucky can’t track this final witch down in a few days, the time on this coven will expire, and humanity will be doomed to continue its self-destructive path. Despite her near-total lack of training for her new role, it becomes clear that the spoon found Lucky for a reason. She has gifts that not even she knew. Now in a race against time and a quasi-immortal witch hunter through Appalachia to New Orleans, she will need all the help and intuition she can find.

Like all of Dimaline’s work that I’ve read VenCo is nearly impossible to put down. Also, like all of her work, it is smart, funny and subversive. This book is a feminist call to arms. Patriarch better watch its back.

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Mikhaila recommends: Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

The year is 1986 and the Lebanese civil war has been raging for over a decade. Muna Heddad, a 29-year-old single mother from Beirut, finds herself and her 8-year-old son, Omar, forced to immigrate to Montreal by her wealthy in-laws—a journey she had planned to take with her husband who is now missing.

A French teacher in Lebanon, Muna’s knowledge of the language allows her easy entry into Quebec, but that’s where her smooth sailing ends. Once there, she encounters roadblocks at every turn: nobody will rent to her; nobody will hire her as a French teacher; in fact, nobody will hire Muna at all. Doors are closed in her face and apartments and jobs are suddenly no longer available due to the colour of her skin and her Parisian French accent.

After searching for some time, the landlord of a transient building takes pity on the pair, renting them a dingy single room apartment furnished with discarded furniture but it is months before Muna manages to land a job at a call centre. Here, she becomes “Mona”, peddling a weight loss program to strangers who feel more-than-comfortable sharing with her the innerworkings of their private lives as they ask her for advice as well as their weekly shipments of bland, pre-portioned, weight loss meals.

Not knowing his fate, Muna is haunted by the ghost of her missing husband as she endures her first Montreal winter and tries to navigate the challenges faced by immigrants trying to find their place in a new country, a country determined to make it as difficult as possible for immigrants to succeed, all the while trying to provide for her son.

Beautifully written, this moving novel pays tribute to Nasrallah’s own Lebanese immigrant heritage and recognizes the sacrifices and compromises made by immigrants in the hopes of a better life.

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Jess recommends: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean.

Devon Fairweather is a book eater, a species of human-like beings that consume books as food, retaining all their content and knowledge. As the sole daughter in the family she was raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories, preparing her for a life of marriage contracts and childbearing. But with the birth and subsequent seizure of her daughter, Devon realizes the truth of her circumstance… When her second baby, her son Cai, is born a mind eater, a subset of book eaters with a hunger for human minds, she knows not to make the same mistake and flees with him.

Sunyi Dean’s debut novel is a twisted fantasy, a dark modern fairytale about the ruthless oppression of women that asks “who are the real monsters?”. It’s so easy to write Devon off as a vicious, villainous, and violent woman, and maybe she is. Or maybe she’s simply a woman, doing her best to protect her son, and maybe the real villains are the archaic systems in place… and after all, as Devon says, love is not “inherently good”.

When I first picked up this book, I giggled at the quote on the front… “I devoured this book!”. But seriously, I devoured this book!! With themes of womanhood, motherhood, and queerness, this book is a thought-provoking read, all wrapped up in a creepy cover.

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Melissa recommends: Terrain: the House Plant Book: An Insider’s Guide to Cultivating and Collecting the Most Sought-After Specimens by Melissa Lowrie.

Spring is here, and as the snow melts, I’ve got gardening on my mind. The ground is not quite ready for planting in my backyard, so I’ve turned my attention to my house plants. Melissa Lowrie & the Terrain Plant team do an excellent job breaking down the overwhelming world of houseplants. Starting out simple, they guide you through pot selection, soil blends, lighting and watering. All of these seem simple until you have someone like myself who has been known to buy beautiful plants and then disregard the “bright light” requirement as I bring it into my basement suite.

I really appreciated how the book is broken down; I enjoyed the images of “Small Wonders-petite & delicate plants” and quickly accepted that they are not in my near future. I’ll be referencing more the “Unfussy Friends-low-light & low-maintenance problem solver” chapter of the book. Pothos, Snake Plant, ZZ Raven will be additions into my home over the next year. As a child from the 80” s I’m interested in the ET Fern which as the book states “is a relative newcomer to the houseplant world” with my low-light home, I might be better off with a Crested Bear’s Paw Fern, which would be fitting as we do see many bears in our communities. Flipping through the beautiful images of this book, I’m keen to start using some of the higher space in my home and get some “Ramblers-vining & trailing plants” to add to my collection. If anyone has any tips, tricks or inside knowledge on houseplants, I’m open to learn.

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Gen recommends: The Creative Act: a Way of Being by Rick Ruben.

Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act is an insightful and inspiring must-read for anyone looking to tap into their creative potential.

Through personal anecdotes and interviews with some of the biggest names in music, Rubin offers practical advice on how to unlock your creativity and bring your ideas to life. His emphasis on the importance of simplicity and authenticity in the creative process is both refreshing and motivating.

Whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, this book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their creativity and approach their work with a fresh perspective.

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Emma recommends: Abandon by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch’s sci-fi thriller Dark Matter has long been one of my favourite Staff Picks. His newer releases have certainly been a hard act to follow, so I was intrigued when Abandon was announced – especially when, upon further investigation, I learned it was originally published back in 2009.

Abandon is set over two timelines in the remote fictional mining town of Abandon, Colorado. On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman and child in the town disappear without a trace.

In 2006, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor, along with his estranged daughter, a psychic, and her paranormal-photographer husband, to venture into the ghost town to hopefully learn the truth of what really happened over a century ago.

What they are about to discover is that more than twenty miles from civilization, with a blizzard about to hit, they are not alone, and the past is very much alive…

While certainly very different from his more recent sci-fi thrillers, Abandon still bears all the hallmarks of Crouch’s strong descriptive narrative that leaves you feeling you know the settings and characters so well that you might have just watched the movie.

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Denisa recommends: Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple by Aran Goyoaga.

I’m shocked I haven’t shared any cookbooks yet, as they happen to be one of my most borrowed types of books. Aran Goyoaga is one of my absolute favourite food artists of all time. I own her first cookbook (Cannelle et Vanille: Nourishing, Gluten-free recipes for every Meal and Mood), and have tackled the art of gluten-free starter making as well as added the buckwheat & tahini cookies to my permanent cookie repertoire.

This latest book is a beautiful addition that delves deeper into the baking realm with more tips on the art of sourdough starter making, to cultivating your own coconut yogurt or my all-time favourite, Lemon Meringue Tartlets. I really appreciate that although the recipes are gluten-free there are no weird substitutes but rather other delicious whole grains such as rice, nut, oat and buckwheat flours to name a few.

Aran is a fourth-generation baker, but she hasn’t always been. She had to leave a job at a big corporation, move from Denver to Florida and enroll in culinary school in 2001, and I’m grateful she did! Aran’s recipes are easy to follow with succinct explanations, and the ingredients are in measurements and weights (and I highly recommend using the latter with a kitchen scale for accurate results). After an intense education and time as a pastry chef Aran left that high-paced world in 2006, and started a family and a blog to channel her creativity with her emotionally riveting photography and her love of pastry.

Every year I find myself with an abundance of winter squash and was delighted to find both of Aran’s books have recipes to transform such abundance into the tastiest of treats such as roasted squash brown butter cake (Cannelle et Vanille first book) or for the savoury lovers, the squash, onion and cheddar quiche from Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple. Yum!

Put a hold on your copy here and get baking!


Shevonne recommends: Small Game by Blair Braverman.

“A gripping novel about a survival reality show gone wrong that leaves a group of strangers stranded in the northern wilds.” Small Game by Blair Braverman is a book for lovers of adventure, survival stories, wilderness and reality TV. The premise is similar to the long-time-running reality TV show Survivor. In the book, a group of mismatched strangers are cast in a show called Civilization with promises of a large paycheque if they make it to the end.

The cast is dropped off at a remote location, hoping to survive until the last day. Most are survival enthusiasts and think this experience will be straightforward and effortless. However, they are wrong, as they wake up one morning to something that has gone horribly wrong. The TV show suddenly becomes real life.

The author, Blair Braverman, is an American adventurist and was on a reality show herself: Naked and Afraid. Small Game is a page-turner, quick read and will keep you on your toes!

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Brennan recommends: Bad Cree by Jessica Johns.

Mackenzie is a young Cree woman living in Vancouver. Her very urban life seems a world away from her rural Alberta home. This is not an accident. Following the devastating loss of her Kokum (Grandmother) Mackenzie chose to flee home and family rather than live with the constant grief she would have to face there. A couple of years later when her sister Sabrina dies, she doesn’t return for the funeral.

Mackenzie begins having horrific nightmares about Sabrina, which wouldn’t be that unusual under the circumstances except for the fact that she has started to bring things back from her dreams into the real world. Pine boughs, injuries etc. Crows start to follow her everywhere and eventually she begins receiving texts from Sabrina’s number.

Eventually Mackenzie cracks and reaches out to home. When she gets back to her people the book really comes into its own. You can feel the warmth and love of all the Aunties and Cousins. All the weight of history shared but also things not shared that should have been. Things left unsaid or undone have created gaps in the family that will need to be repaired if they are going to be able to confront the mythical creature that is threatening them all.

Johns has done a beautiful job of connecting her characters to each other and to their home. The love and care Mackenzie is swallowed in feels so warm and comforting (if a bit smothering to an only child like me) it brought me a couple of blushes. Having left the home of my childhood some time ago this book rings very true to me. You can leave home, but home will never leave you and the longer you try to fight it the worse it’ll be. A wonderful debut novel.

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Mikhaila recommends: Astra by Cedar Bowers.

When Astra Brine leaves her neglectful single father and the remote BC commune where she was raised for Calgary, she barely looks over her shoulder. As she tries to forge her own path, her lack of real-world life skills and the indelible mark left on her by her unconventional upbringing follow her, influencing relationships and guiding decision making, making her both guarded and vulnerable. Throughout her life, people are drawn to her. They attempt to change, become, befriend, and rescue her. She is a nanny, a mother, a wife, a roommate, a caregiver. She spends her life trying to make it on her own, to distance herself from her roots, but no matter how hard she tries, she keeps getting called back.

“Astra” follows the titular character over the course of her life, from birth to middle age, through the third person perspectives of ten different characters, a chapter dedicated to each. Only at the very end do we hear from Astra.

Ultimately, “Astra” is a 300-ish page 3D character sketch, taken from every possible vantage point. As someone whose favourite thing to write is character sketches, I thoroughly appreciated Cedar Bower’s writing style. The story, taking place in BC, was intriguing and Astra was a captivating character, even at a distance.

Fun fact(s): This book was recommended to a friend by the proprietor of one of my favourite little book stores, Galiano Island Books, on, you guessed it, Galiano Island. Cedar Bowers grew up–and still lives–on Galiano, where I spent much of my own childhood, and her husband is the author of the lauded “Greenwood,” Micheal Christie, which I’m also told is a must read. BC author power couple! Add them both to your “to read” pile.

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Melissa recommends: The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Anthony.

What a great book. The title has less to do with a book club and more with a community created over the years at Over the Rainbow bookstore. After reading this book, I remembered the first bookstore I went to as a kid; unfortunately, it was a big box store that did not have an Elliott who knew his customers and handpicked the perfect book for them.

Gretchen Anthony brings Over the Rainbow Bookstore alive with humorous customer interactions and a well-created book recommendation that the reader can walk away with. The shop owners, Irma & Elliott, have a deep friendship that spans over many years. Following Elliott’s sudden death, Irma is left to run the independent store solo. With deep heartache, she chooses to close the bookstore. Her daughters Bree, Laney and Elliott’s surviving life partner are shocked at Irma’s decision and team up to “save” the bookshop. There are so many layers within each character, and their relationship to the bookstore adds depth to the humour that is forward in the story. I highly recommend this book. My co-worker Jess suggested it to me, and I’m glad she did.

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Jess recommends: Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen.

Evander Mills, recently fired from the police department, is struggling to find a reason to go on. With no job, no place to live, and his reputation tarnished, he has lost hope until Pearl offers him a private investigator gig. Lavender House, once a safe haven for a queer chosen family, and still the headquarters for the famous LaMontaine soap company, has been torn apart by the death of the matriarch, Irene LaMontaine.

A queer cozy mystery, historical fiction set in 1952 San Francisco, the author doesn’t shy away from the homophobia typical of this period. Though hard to read at times I appreciate the realistic representation of the struggles queer people had to endure to get us where we are today. A slow burn with a couple of twists and turns; I really enjoyed how the author wove in the characters’ backstories. It seems like the author intends this to be the start of a series, and I’m looking forward to devouring more of the adventures and mysteries of Andy Mills.

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Gen recommends: Exiles by Jane Harper.

“A mother disappears from a busy festival on a warm spring night. Her baby lies alone in the pram, her mother’s possessions surrounding her, waiting for a return which never comes.

A year later, Kim Gillespie’s absence still casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather to welcome a new addition to the family. Joining the celebrations on a rare break from work is federal investigator Aaron Falk, who begins to suspect that all is not as it seems.
As he looks into Kim’s case, long-held secrets and resentments begin to come to the fore, secrets that show that her community is not as close as it appears. Falk will have to tread carefully if he is to expose the dark fractures at its heart, but sometimes it takes an outsider to get to the truth. . .”

One of my favourite mystery writers Jane Harper is back with her long-awaited (at least by me) third and final novel in the Aaron Falk series, following the Dry and Force of Nature. Much like her previous novels, this is a character-driven slow-burning mystery that authentically captures small-town life. The deeper Falk investigates, the darker the secrets he exposes.

I have loved reading this series so much I didn’t want it to end. Jane Harper is a master storyteller, and I’m already eagerly awaiting her next novel!

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Emma recommends: Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier.

If you are looking for a page-turner of a thriller, then Things We Do in the Dark will not disappoint!

The story centres around Paris Peralta, a young woman who is found by the police in her bathroom covered in her dead celebrity (much older) husband’s blood – she knows she didn’t murder him but the evidence would suggest otherwise. Faced with a murder charge, Paris must find a way to exonerate herself without exposing the past she has worked so hard to keep hidden.

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Denisa recommends: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

There is a seasonal pattern to my book choices in cold winter months: fantasy trilogy. In past years I’ve escaped into the All Souls Series by Deborah Harkness and The Devabad Trilogy by SA Chakraborty, and I’m kicking off 2023 with The Blood and Ash Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

The Blood and Ash Series begins at book 1: From Blood and Ash, where we meet Poppy who is considered the chosen one or Maiden in the Kingdom of Solis where she lives. Her life is protected and not her own. She is not allowed to be social or experience pleasure of any sort but is fated to a lonely existence preparing for her eventual ascension, which is shrouded in mystery. She has been taught that the fate of the entire kingdom rests upon her being deemed worthy of the gods at her ascension.

Luckily Poppy has a fierce determination to experience life and a helpful rebellious streak. She learns how to fight in secret from Viktor, one of her guards, who is like a father to her. This skill comes in handy against the horrific Cravens; zombie like monsters who ravage the mortals of Solis and beyond. Poppy also has a mysterious gift she has been forbidden to use by the Ascended in charge of her, but one which she cannot withhold when people are in need. She can read people’s emotions and take away their pain, however briefly.

Enter Hawke, the golden-eyed guard who swears his oath to protect Poppy, and many things are revealed as he triggers her anger and desire simultaneously. Will everything she once thought true be challenged? This trilogy is full of fantasy, magic, and romance and is sure to heat up those cold winter nights.

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Brennan recommends: The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy.

It’s 1980, and Bobby Western, a salvage diver based in New Orleans, has been called out to a plane crash off the coast of Mississippi. Western and his partner find nine bodies, but the black box, the pilot’s flight bag and a passenger are missing. How? And why has none of this made the news? Unbeknownst to him, the coincidence of being a witness to this scene has placed him in the crosshairs of shadowy men with badges, questions and power enough to destroy a person’s life.

This is the plot line that drives Western through the novel, but it’s almost a sideshow to the real story of Bobby and his younger sister Alicia. Achingly beautiful and immensely talented, she is one of the world’s greatest mathematical minds as a teenager. It is against her genius that Bobby realizes his abilities fall short of the truly special. Alicia also suffers from schizophrenia. She is visited by a troupe of strange apparitions led by the Thalidomide Kid that, we are led to believe, only she can see and are trying to help Alicia whether she wants them to or not.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about the family Western family and why Bobby is clinging to perpetual grief despite his many advantages and seemingly charmed life.

On the face of it, this book seems a departure from McCarthy’s previous work, and in some ways, it surely is. Alicia is his first fully realized female character, for one. The heavy Physics and math angle is another. However, the language (I had to google at least a word per chapter), dialogue, perfect characters and the problems he is grappling with are still the same. Love, obligation, free will, the existence of God and the terrors wrought by human “intelligence”. What else is there?

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Mikhaila recommends: Butts: A Backstory by Heather Radke.

My 2022 resolution was to read more non-fiction as opposed to listening to it, as I tend to do. Did I stick to it? Of course not. So, when Butts came across my radar, I was resolute to at least end the year as I intended.

Heather Radke is an editor and reporter at Radiolab, an essayist and a creative writing professor. Her eloquent reportage is often a highlight of my podcast listening; this is her first book.

If judging books by covers weren’t frowned upon, this might win book of the year. The title: Butts; the subtitle: A Backstory; the image: a posterior-shaped pink peach. It’s perfect. This is a book I want to be seen reading in public.

Obviously, this book is about butts. Not their digestive function but a cultural history of society and butts’ complicated relationship. And though the tongue-in-cheek title and cover may elicit a giggle and the content is not short on laughs, it’s not all comical. Radke covers the butt of earliest known man and its assumed purpose; Sara Baartman, a South African woman who was displayed in Victorian freak-shows due to her voluptuous behind; eugenics and how butt size equaled brain size and racial ranking; flappers of the 20’s and the roots of diet culture; buns of steel, Sir Mix-a-lot, cultural appropriation, Miley Cyrus, and Kim (duh). Peppered with personal anecdotes, visits to museum archives and the workshop of the world’s chief makers of foam butt pads for drag queens, Radke manages to squeeze a lot into 256 pages. And while she admittedly hasn’t written “an encyclopedia on butts,” she has done an impressive job of pin-pointing events crucial to shaping the butt into what it is today.

You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp in horror and maybe (like me) you’ll take comfort in learning that your own body issues are more deep-seated than you thought. Another 10 from me.

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Gen recommends: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.

You might have recently seen the bright cover of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (featuring Hokusai’s The Great Wave) by Gabrielle Zevin pop up in many of the best books of 2022 lists and wonder if it lives up to the hype. Well, I’d have to say I agree with the critics. It was one of my favourite reads this year. I loved it! ​

If you pick this up expecting it to be a carbon copy of Zevin’s immensely popular (and excellent) novel, The Storied Life of A.J Fikry, you might be disappointed. However, much like her previous books, the writing is lovely. Zevin’s character development is so masterful, the characters so realistic and flawed, and the relationships so authentic that you cannot help but be thoroughly drawn in and hope it never ends.

Zevin is a gamer, and her love for it ripples throughout the story. Just as I loved the geeky side of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, I really loved the way gaming history is written into the narrative, oh, the nostalgia for the video games of the 90s.

I listened to Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow as an audiobook, and I loved listening to the narrator Jennifer Kim. But whatever your preferred way of reading is, add this to your TBR pile. I don’t think you’ll regret it!

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Melissa recommends: The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman.

What a great read. This was a nice, light, feel-good book. Based on a Jewish tradition of matchmaking, this story follows two women in 2 eras who are gifted as matchmakers. As a young Jewish girl, Sara Glikman’s family immigrated to New York in 1910. She grew up poor with a special gift; she had the skill to see connections between individuals and create romantic relationships.

Due to the strict religious beliefs, recognized male matchmakers in her community did everything in their power to restrict Sara from using her power to create matches. I was intrigued by how the author brought to light how religious traditions provide many people security and, in this particular case, many marriages created by male matchmakers. I found myself questioning patriarchy as the role of a matchmaker was so defined by gender in 1910.

Despite Sara’s skills as a matchmaker, her daughter’s marriage was unsuccessful, creating an opportunity for Sara to take on a caregiver role for her granddaughters as her daughter worked. Abby, one of Sara’s granddaughters, has a very tight bond with her grandmother. Abby excels in academics and becomes a successful divorce lawyer in contrast to her grandmother’s matchmaking skills. As Abby’s career a top divorce lawyer in New York, she faces the challenges of supporting women whose lives are drastically changed when their marriage dissolves. Abby’s goal is to ensure women’s independence post-divorce. As Abby learns valuable lessons from her grandmother, her ideas shift in her work, questioning if she is providing women independence post-divorce. This is a great story, with wonderful characters with unconditional love between a grandmother and granddaughter.

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Emma recommends: Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister.

I do love a good time travel story so I was excited to pick up Gilly McAllister’s Wrong Place Wrong Time and I am pleased to say it did not disappoint.

You’re waiting up for your seventeen year old son to come home from a Halloween party – his curfew has passed and as you look out the window for him you witness him walking towards a stranger, armed with a knife. Your funny, happy son has just murdered someone and you witnessed it happen.

You have no idea who, or why, and all you wish you could do is go back in time and stop it from happening. You wake up the next morning and something doesn’t seem right, your husband is behaving as if nothing has happened and your son is at home and not in custody. You realise that you have lived this day before and it is now your yesterday. You realise you now have a chance to stop the murder after all but something isn’t working and each day you wake up a day earlier – with another chance to make changes that could impact the future outcome. As you go further and further back in time, now jumping weeks and years back into the past you realise there is much more to the story than you could have imagined and that you need to get to the root of the issue if you are in with a chance of stopping the crime and returning to your original timeline.

This is a solid psychological thriller with plenty of twists and surprises. Perfect for fans of Alice Feeney and Claire Mackintosh.

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Denisa recommends: Shrine of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson.

I’ll admit I was initially drawn to this book by the cover, as I often am, then being a fan of books taking place in the roaring 20s, I couldn’t resist.
The story is told primarily by four main characters, and the author does a great job of harmonizing their narratives seamlessly. Nellie Cocker is the cut-throat matriarch who is the Queen of the nightclubs and runs them with her six children. Detective Frobisher is investigating the Crocker family. Freda is a fourteen-year-old who is done with her home life so heads to London to become a star. Gwendolen is the former librarian connecting them all together.

Nellie is just being released from jail as the story begins under the watchful eye of Detective Frobisher. She is back to take the reins on her nightclubs, but her empire is under threat. From there we are transported into the dark under-belly of a London still recovering from the Great War.

This book has it all: history, mystery, fame, fortune and crime.

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Jess recommends: Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour.

A story as vibrant as its cover, Yerba Buena follows the lives of two young women throughout their late teens to late twenties. Sara was 16 when she ran away from home, not only leaving behind earth-shattering losses but also the trusting, vulnerable girl she once was. Now she’s a sought-after bartender in Los Angeles, hired to put together a new cocktail menu for a popular restaurant – Yerba Buena. That’s where she sees Emilie for the first time and is inexplicably drawn to her. Emilie yearns for the beautiful, strong community her Creole grandparents once had but is unable to commit to anything for long. On a whim, she decides to take a job arranging flower arrangements for a glamorous restaurant… Yerba Buena.

The young women’s lives weave, break and bend toward each other as they battle with and come to terms with their tragic pasts until the moving and deeply satisfying conclusion.

This is the kind of book that makes me feel good about being alive. It’s bittersweet. It’s real. It’s heart wrenching and warming all at the same time. I’ve been meaning to read Nina LaCour’s YA books for a while now, so when her first adult fiction book came onto our shelves, I knew I had to put it at the top of my to-be-read list. It did not disappoint, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the future!

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Mikhaila recommends: Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout.

I started reading Elizabeth Strout backwards. I kept meaning to read her novels, but they continually found themselves pushed to the bottom of the reading pile as other new releases took precedence. I finally picked up one of her books last summer with the release of “Oh William!” and I instantly fell in love.

Though I didn’t start reading the Amgash series at the beginning—there are two that precede “Oh William!”—Strout is adept at catching the reader up without giving too much away, and I was able to jump right in. I made a mental note to read more Strout—specifically Amgash—but I very quickly fell back into the same cycle, getting distracted by shiny book jackets on the new books shelf. This was until last month, exactly one year later, when a particularly fetching new book caught my eye: the newest Amgash installation, “Lucy by the Sea”.

It’s. So. Good.

Taking place during the first year of the pandemic, LBS follows Lucy Barton and her ex-husband William as they leave NYC to isolate together in a cottage in Maine. It chronicles the ups and downs and emotions of everyday life in 2020 and I’ve never read a novel that was more relatable. Lucy experiences the loss of some of those close to her, she experiences the distance between some created by a difference of opinion and beliefs, she visits with neighbours outdoors, masked, six feet apart in lawn chairs, she goes for daily walks, she is harassed by locals for being from out of town. All of the things we all did for months on end. I think because this is the first novel I’ve read of a global event I actually experienced, I truly connected with the story and the characters. Strout manages to weave the mundaneness of life in 2020 into an engaging, moving story without the doom and gloom you might expect.

This one gets a 10/10 from me, a highlight of my year of reading. And, in case you’re wondering, I’m now reading the Amgash series from the beginning.

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Melissa recommends: Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay.

I took advantage of using the Libby app to listen to this book; it’s a great addition to our library’s resources. Author Linwood Barclay is a well-known author in the mystery genre with an extensive collection of books under his belt. It has been some time since I’ve read/listened to a mystery, and Take Your Breath Away, did not disappoint.

This novel is based on a ‘cold case’ of a missing woman, Brie, who vanished one weekend, coinciding with her husband, Andrew, being away on a fishing trip. The Police quickly deem Andrew as a person of interest. This changes everything in Andrew’s life, his friendships, family connection to Brie-his wife, and his once thriving business. As the police investigate this case, Troubles in the marriage come to the forefront. His interest in constantly buying and flipping houses does not allow for the stability that Brie craves. 6 years pass, and Andrew maintains his innocence and moves on with his life, including a name change and a move to a neighbouring town. Andrew has a girlfriend who has moved in, and they are discussing a future together. It is then that a sighting of Brie shakes everyone to the core. Andrew, Brie family and the Police are now all reviewing the cold case. Barclay does an excellent job of crossing past and present. The characters are well developed, each having many layers, slowly revealing the dark corners of each character.

I really enjoyed how this mystery took twists and turns. Each time I thought I had figured out a piece of the puzzle, something else was taken into consideration. If you’re looking for a good mystery, I recommend Take Your Breath Away.

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Gen recommends: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (AKA Seanan McGuire).

“The ocean is home to many myths, But some are deadly….

Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy.

Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart, this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will be found only below the waves.”

Science fiction meets horror in this wonderfully creepy tale about the scientific discovery of mermaids. I loved not only the refreshingly diverse cast of characters but also the eerie atmosphere. The suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat or hiding under the covers.

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Emma recommends: The Measure by Nikki Erlick.

Imagine waking up one morning and on your doorstep is a wooden box with the inscription “The measure of your life lies within” – what would you do? Open it? Toss it in the trash? Hide it in the back of the closet? Over the following days, it becomes clear that every adult over the age of 22 has received a similar box and inside this box is a string – a string that directly relates to the length of your life. If you hadn’t already opened the box – would you now?

As the impact of the boxes arrival is felt across the globe and society comes together and falls apart in various ways, our story follows the lives of 8 different people and the different choices they make when presented with this very dilemma. The Measure is a thought-provoking novel that also serves as a great reminder that “it is not the length of life, but the depth of life” that matters.

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Denisa recommends: The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling (Rachel Dawkins).

What a great book to read around Halloween. If you are looking for a book that is funny, witchy and a little spicy, look no further.

The prologue introduces us to Vivienne Jones (aka Vivi), who grew up with a mother who did not practice the craft and hid her witchy powers. Rhys Penhallow is somewhat of a playboy and a descendant of the town’s ancestors, very powerful witches. Vivi is heartbroken by Rhys after a 3-month love affair where he fails to mention his father has arranged a marriage for him, apparently a common practice in witch families. What does a witch do when heartbroken? A bubble bath, vodka, sappy music and an impulsive stab at a curse, as a joke, of course.

Fast forward 10 years later, and Vivi is a history professor at the local university. The town is preparing for Founder’s Days, and she finds out through her cousin that Rhys is coming back to town to give a speech on behalf of the founding family. He has also been directed by his father to recharge the ley lines, which are the magical current charging the town. When this goes terribly wrong Vivi realizes her curse may have been more effective than she thought all those years ago and is forced to admit her deed and try to fix it. Nothing like a magical rom-com for a light and quick Halloween read.

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Melissa recommends: Once there were wolves by Charlotte McConaghy.

This novel was fascinating. It showcases the wonder and beauty of nature alongside the violence and pureness of instinct. Intil Flynn is the main character, who is a lead biologist attempting to reintroduce wolves into an area of Scotland. Intil’s twin sister, Aggie, comes with her to Scotland. Following a violent act against Aggie, she has become nonverbal, and the twins use a form of sign language to communicate with each other. As Intil’s goal is to breed wolves in the wild, she also becomes her sister’s keeper.

The biology team’s goal is that the wolves will kill the deer, allowing the land to regenerate with lush foliage and trees. The local “Scots” who have generations of sheep farmers working the land are in pure opposition to this “science experiment’. With a deep division of ‘us’ versus “them” Intil’s team of biologists are forced to navigate deep history within a tight-knit community. The murder of a local farmer puts everyone in the spotlight of the local police force. The layers of this story always keep you curious about what secrets will reveal themselves in due time. If you’re looking for a novel that brings nature, connection to land and bloodlines with a murder mystery threaded through it, I recommend this book.

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Mikhaila recommends: The Promise by Damon Galgut.

As someone who is often drawn to award-winning novels, it’s no surprise that I picked up last year’s Booker Prize winner. Damon Galgut is only the second South African author to win the award, and The Promise was definitely deserving.

This is the story of the Swarts, an affluent white South African family living in Pretoria. On her deathbed, a promise is made to the matriarch of the family by her soon-to-be-widowed husband, overheard by their youngest daughter. Political circumstances prohibit the immediate following through of the promise–though this is all but an excuse–but in the years that follow, it is dredged up repeatedly by the eavesdropper. As members of the family slowly pass away, the broken promise tests the integrity of the remaining Swarts.

Spanning the last years of Apartheid to Nelson Mandela’s reign and beyond, the Promise documents the Swarts’ fall from affluence, the unkept promise at the core of their demise, the changing political landscape revealing true characters and hypocrisy within the family and the nation.

I’ve never read anything like the Promise before both in setting and style. The prose changes points of view frequently––often mid-paragraph or even mid-sentence–sometimes addressing the reader directly, adding a haunting quality to a beautifully written novel and though the story is not hopeful, the ending offers a somewhat satisfying conclusion. Recommended reading for fans of previous South African Booker Prize winner J.M Coetzee.

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Brennan recommends: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

I’ll be straight with you. This probably won’t be easy. The first 100 or so pages might have you reconsidering your decision, but if you make it through, you will have read the masterpiece of one of the greatest writers on this planet. Hopefully (like me), you will be happy you did.

The book’s title refers to the 1,001 children born in India in the first hour of the first day of India’s independence from Britain on Aug 15, 1947. Our narrator, Saleem Sinai, is 1 of 2 boys born in a Bombay hospital at the exact stroke of midnight and though all the Children have been born with a special gift ranging from time travel to telepathy to the ability to change sex at will, we learn that these 2 Bombay boys are especially linked to the fate of their young nation.

While essentially a coming-of-age book about a nation, Rushdie’s use of 100-plus characters and probably a dozen fleshed out storylines (yes, they do come together; I promise) make that synopsis akin to saying Jimi Hendrix was a guitar player. The magic of the book is in the language. Through Saleem Rushdie might be trying to include everything. I don’t mean just the 60 years of India on either side of independence this is bigger than that. This is humanity with all the love, fear, courage, cowardice, pleasure or lack of, absurdity, hilarity, bravery, racket, grossness, loathing and wonder that makes it worthwhile. The ambition is staggering.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but the thing I most want to get across is what a joy this book was. Just writing about it makes me smile. I’m glad I stuck it out and hope you will too.

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Jess recommends: Recursion by Blake Crouch.

Our memories create our realities.

A young woman on a quest to help preserve her mother’s memories before they are all stolen by Alzheimer’s disease is offered what seems to be the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to really give her research all she’s got, but maybe it’s just too good to be true.

A cop in NYC gets wrapped up in a confusing case, then starts to have symptoms of False Memory Syndrome (FMS) himself…

This book had me hooked from the beginning. I love science fiction, and this had just the right amount of realism tied in. Switching between the perspectives of the young scientist and the policeman, the story spans many years and many timelines, but I still found it easy to follow. I’m excited to read more of Crouch’s work!

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Gen recommends: The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard.

Suzanne Simard is now well known for her groundbreaking discovery that trees communicate with each other through mycorrhizal fungi. But more astonishing (at least to me), Simard discovered that it’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there in the forest, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. She found that some trees known as ‘mother trees’ will disperse nutrients and information to other trees in order to sustain the forest.

There is so much to love about this book! It is a fascinating read, a perfect blend of science and storytelling, Simard is deeply passionate about her work, and it radiates off the pages. I found it hard not to be inspired by her story, particularly her courage in standing up for her research and fervently trying to change industry practices to help forests thrive. Perfect for fans of Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden life of trees and Richard Power’s Overstory.

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Emma recommends: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

A book with an octopus as a narrator? Well, that was more than enough to intrigue me and I am glad to say it did not disappoint! 🐙

Remarkably Bright Creatures tells the story of septuagenarian Tova Sullivan and her unlikely friendship with Marcellus, the giant Pacific Octopus living at the aquarium where Tova works as a cleaner. With chapters told from the perspective of three different narrators (one of which is Marcellus the octopus), their very separate lives and stories slowly but surely weave together with Marcellus at the centre of everything that unfolds.

While the story itself is somewhat predictable, you will be drawn in by Marcellus and his story and the friendship he forms with Tova. A delightfully charming but bittersweet read.

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Denisa recommends: Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel.

I loved this book from start to finish. It is a story about many things including women’s rights, patriarchy, motherhood, friendship, family and mythology. Kaikeyi is the only daughter born in the Kingdom of Kekaya where men rule, and women are kept to the shadows. She grows up with her brothers and her dismissive father and learns to be resilient and to fend for herself with her wits and physical strength.
She spends time with ancient scrolls in her palace basement and learns of a power she can wield to attempt to lift the women out of their subordinate roles and, she hopes, to prevent war and violence in her community. She is the best of friends with her twin brother Yuddhajit until he arranges a marriage without her consent. Kaikeyi eventually takes this blow in stride and learns to adapt to her new role as the third Raydni (Queen) in the kingdom of Ayodhya.

The author has taken inspiration for Kaikeyi from one of the largest ancient epics in world literature called the Ramayana which I had never heard of before reading this book and enjoyed it, nonetheless. Kaikeyi’s story is a truly entertaining one.

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Mikhaila recommends: Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder.

An artist-come-stay-at-home mom—“the mother”—finds herself single-parenting five days a week while her less-accredited yet higher-earning husband is away for work.

Two years in, lost in the tedium of daily life, mommy groups, and “night-nights,” she finds a patch of coarse hair on the back of her neck and sharper canine teeth. She resists her increasingly canine urges but soon relents, inspired by a tome of magical women, her newfound bible. She runs in the night, pees on lawns, murders small creatures and howls at the moon, under the guise of “doggy games” with her son; through her transformation, she finds comfort in her new life. “She is becoming a better mother because she is becoming a better dog!”

Nightbitch is a darkly comic, surreal feminist commentary on the ferality of motherhood and the expectations of mothers, how they are meant to have it all together, but if they give in to instinct, can be better parents.

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Melissa recommends: The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

“From the New York Times bestselling author of The Plot, Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Latecomer is a layered and immersive literary novel about three siblings, desperate to escape one another, and the upending of their family by the late arrival of a fourth.

The Latecomer follows the story of the wealthy, New York City-based Oppenheimer family, from the first meeting of parents Salo and Johanna, under tragic circumstances, to their triplets born during the early days of IVF. As children, the three siblings – Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally – feel no strong familial bond and cannot wait to go their separate ways, even as their father becomes more distanced and their mother more desperate. When the triplets leave for college, Johanna, faced with being truly alone, makes the decision to have a fourth child. What role will the “latecomer” play in this fractured family?

A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.”–Provided by Publisher.

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Jess recommends: Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins.

Lux McAllister is stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, longing to travel the world after a family tragedy. When her boyfriend, Nico, is hired to sail two women, college best friends Brittany and Amma, to a remote island Lux jumps at the opportunity to join them. The foursome quickly bond during the days-long trip to Meroe Island, and are taken aback by the beauty of the island paradise when they arrive, despite its mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and rumours of murder.

What they don’t expect is to find another boat anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. Aboard the Azure Sky, owners Jake and Eliza are living the high life. Now a group of six, they all enjoy the luxurious foods and well-stocked bar aboard the elegant yacht. Lux hasn’t felt like she belongs anywhere in a long time, but here on Meroe, with these fellow free-spirits, she’s starting to feel a sense of peace.

Until the arrival of a creepy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time… Soon the cracks in everyone’s facades start to emerge… It seems like Brittany and Amma haven’t been honest about their pasts with Lux or even each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect golden couple, the tumultuous history of their relationship starts to surface, and their reasons for being in this remote, off-the-grid island in the South Pacific, may not be as innocent as they first seemed…

This story is as fun and light as a mystery/thriller can get. I felt that Rachel Hawkins captured a realistic picture of a bunch of twenty-somethings as they navigate the longing to escape “real” life and dealing with the tension of being stuck with each other 24/7. With some twists and turns, this novel is a quick and easy read to curl up with on the beach!

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Gen recommends: Stolen Focus: why you can’t pay attention and how to think deeply again by Johann Hari

Do you find yourself constantly distracted? Do you often find yourself wasting time scrolling mindlessly through social media? Do you find it hard to finish reading a book? Or ever wondered why your digital detox didn’t work? If so, you’re not alone.

In this book, Johann Hari investigates why our ability to pay attention is collapsing. Hari interviews leading experts on human attention from around the world to uncover the leading causes of our loss of focus, and the results are startling! He researches the reasons why digital detoxing and willpower alone are not enough to combat the powerful external forces that rob us of our ability to focus. He offers several solutions that can help heal our attention on both an individual level and collectively as a society. I highly recommend reading this one!

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Emma recommends: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

If you are on the lookout for an entertaining, lighthearted beach read, then look no further than Emily Henry’s latest novel “Book Lovers”.

Nora Stephens’ life is books. A dedicated work-a-holic literary agent, Nora has no time for a personal life, other than her younger sister Libby, who should would do anything for.

When she agrees to go on vacation with her sister to a town that also happens to be the backdrop for a bestselling romance novel, Nora inevitably becomes the heroine in her own story.

Likeable characters, witty dialogue and a surprising plot twist make this a solid choice for a fun summer read.

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Mikhaila recommends: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton.

We all know by now that I love a coming-of-age novel and this is one like no other.

Boy Swallows Universe tells the story of Eli Bell, a 12-year-old boy with an index finger bearing a lucky freckle and a convicted murderer for a babysitter/best friend. Eli and his mute older brother August, who communicates by writing words—often prophetic phrases—in the air, spend their days running around their 1980’s Brisbane suburb, too privy to the inner workings of their mother and stepfather’s heroin dealing business for their own good. One day, they stumble upon a secret room containing only a red telephone that, when answered, sets off a series of events that land their mother in prison and send the boys to live in a house full of books with their agoraphobic alcoholic father who abandoned them when they were too young to remember.

50/50 fact and fiction, BSU is based loosely on Trent Dalton’s own childhood. His writing is lyrical, poetic and unpretentious, resulting in a heartwarming/breaking genre-spanning story—an adventurous-suspenseful-thrilling-crime-romance novel with just a touch of supernatural. I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down, and you probably shouldn’t because this is one you will definitely want to read before the Netflix adaptation comes out sometime in the next year—this is a read-before-you-watch the movie/show type book.

We no longer have a physical copy of Boy Swallows Universe in our collection—it was too loved!—but, you can get a digital copy through the Libby app. If you need help getting set up on Libby, come in and talk to a staff member!

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Denisa recommends: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.

I’ve yet to read a book by Kristin Hannah that I don’t love. This one is a story within a story. It begins on a family apple orchard where Meredith has taken over the family business while her sister is off scouring the most dangerous parts of Earth for the best pictures she can capture as a photojournalist. We learn that their Father was the glue holding the family together as their Mother was an emotionally unavailable mystery to them.

When their father falls ill the sisters are forced to come together and start to unravel the mystery shrouding their Mom. The reader gets a ride from present to past and back again. The bonds between mother and child are highlighted as we learn of mother Anya’s past. Meredith’s father knew that the girls had to get their mother to tell them a fairytale all the way to the end. This fairytale is the only bonding the girls experienced with their mother in their childhood. Will it be enough to allow them to truly know their mother and therefore themselves in the process?

Get your digital copy at the library to find out.

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Brennan recommends: Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World by Peter S. Goodman.

Peter S Goodman is a veteran economic journalist with over 2 decades experience covering international business & finance. Now with the New York Times his career has given him a front row seat for a massive shake up in the way global business is conducted. The end of the Cold War, opening of China to foreign investment and advent of the internet opened up huge, previously untapped, areas of the world to investors. New trade deals were signed making it easier for money and manufacturing to be shifted from place to place to maximize profits and Davos Man was created.

Davos Man is a term coined by social scientist Samuel P Huntington in 2004 to describe a new class of financial elite. With his (yes, the large majority are still men) investments diversified globally he is barely constrained by loyalty to any nation (or their tax codes) and in many ways exists above them. Using his exponentially growing fortune he plays poor nations against rich to extract the best terms for his investments.

Davos is a ski town in the Swiss Alps which hosts the World Economic Forum. An annual gathering of the largest players in global trade it is part trade show, part PR exercise and part schmoozefest. Think the Oscars or Burning Man for billionaires.

Using the stories of 5 Davos men (Jeff Bezos, Stephen Schwartzman, Larry Fink, Jamie Dimon & Marc Benioff) Goodman tells the story of the largest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in the history of the world. With each windfall Davos Man has more resources at his disposal to rig the rules of the game.

We now live in a world shaped by Davos Man and if we don’t like what we see we first need to understand how they’ve done it. This book will help.

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Melissa recommends: A Beautiful Work in Progress

Have you ever set a goal so BIG that it was a “pie in the sky” idea? One of mine is to complete a Triathlon and a friend encouraged me that if I was going to do it “Why Not” just sign up for an IronMan 70.3? The pink cover of A beautiful work in Progress, a memoir , caught my attention and the description of Mirna Valerio, the author, creating a new runner’s vocabulary DNQ- ”Did Not Quit” was for me. Mirna is a school teacher, cross country coach & ultra runner, for reference ultra running, is classified most commonly as running more than 30 kilometres, usually distances, 50 to 100kilometeres lasting 24hrs or multiple days. She is an inspiration to individuals who do not ‘fit’ the mold of an athlete. Mirna is a black female who is not skinny, yet her body-positivity perspective and determination were a fresh insight. There was a great amount of humour woven into this book. I found myself laughing out loud as Mirna recounted her fear of the dark, emergency bathroom breaks in the middle of nowhere. “A beautiful work in progress” has opened my eyes to how a DNQ “Did Not Quit” is sometimes more important than DNS “Did not Start”. Mirna’s description of her journeys in the ultra races inspired me to stay in my lane. Worry less about others and focus on my goal to cross the finish line.

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Jess recommends: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Twin sisters, Rose and Fern, couldn’t be more different. Rose is short and “round” (as her mother would say) with dark hair, while Fern is long, willowy with beautiful blonde locks. Rose is an outgoing interior designer, while Fern is a quirky librarian with a sensory processing disorder.

The story is told from two perspectives: Rose’s diary, a recollection of stories from their upbringing with a mentally ill mother who favoured her sister, and Fern’s voice where we learn about how Rose has always been there for her and been her protector. By both accounts, their childhood wasn’t ideal… they spent an entire year living in libraries, their car, and couch-hopping. When the girls were 12, something terrible happened, something that Rose has helped Fern cover up ever since.

Fern still considers Rose her protector. They have dinner 3 times a week, and Fern would do anything for Rose… even have a baby. Rose can’t get pregnant and all she wants is to be a mother so Fern hatches a plan to find a man to impregnate her so that she can give Rose her baby. One day, Fern meets a man at the library, they go on a few dates and hit it off. Soon “Wally” notices strange things about the twins’ relationship that aren’t quite right… but saying something gets him thrown from Fern’s life.

Sally Hepworth does a wonderful job creating loveable characters, I really felt like I got to experience the world through Fern’s lens. The romantic side plot pulled at my heartstrings, and it was just suspenseful enough to keep me going (without turning into a full-blown murder mystery). I’ll definitely be picking up another Sally Hepworth novel soon!

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Gen recommends: There and Back: Photographs from the Edge by Jimmy Chin.

You probably haven’t had a chance to see Jimmy Chin’s There and Back at the library because I’ve been unapologetically hoarding it at home since we got it here at the library. I’ve been marveling over the beautiful photos and enthralled by the tales of adventure.

There and Back chronicles some of National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin’s climbing and mountaineering expeditions over the past 20 years. It’s an awe-inspiring book filled with stunning photos of nature and adventure, bound to appeal to anyone with a love of photography, nature and the outdoors.

Place a hold here!

Emma recommends: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel.

This is without a doubt my favourite of Emily St. John Mandel’s novels so far.

Station Eleven and Glass Hotel have both been former Staff Picks of mine but Sea of Tranquility left me blown away and wanting more in a way the other two didn’t. Mandel also has a knack of weaving characters from her other novels into each new story and how she incorporated elements of her seemingly unrelated previous works this time around was something I particularly enjoyed. That being said, if you have not read (or perhaps didn’t enjoy) either of her previous two novels, that should in no way detract from your enjoyment of Sea of Tranquility.

Taking place across multiple timelines spanning between Vancouver Island in 1912 and a colony on the moon three hundred years later, we meet several characters who have all had the same brief, un-explainable experience. Are they somehow connected, and if so, how? Sea of Tranquility is a work of speculative fiction that will leave you pondering the nature of time, and reality as we know it. 5 Stars!

Place a hold here!

Denisa recommends: This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

In this latest book by Emma Straub, we are introduced to Alice on the eve of her 40th birthday. We learn that she is caring for her elderly dying father while juggling her job in admissions at one of New York’s prestigious private schools. As in all of Straub’s books, the characters come alive as you get to know the fine details of their thoughts, relationships and feelings as well as the narrative of their life to date.

The real fun happens when Alice revisits a seedy bar from her teenage years, has a few too many drinks and ends up at the Pomander Street home she grew up in with her father. She is locked out and in her state decides to nap in the gatehouse. When she awakens she is no longer a newly 40-year-old woman, but her sixteen-year-old self.

What would you do if you could go back in time and make different choices? Alice is faced with this question. The bond between father and daughter is highlighted as Alice attempts to change her father’s fate and save him. An all-around great read!

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Brennan recommends: Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk tells the story of Franklin & Eldon Starlight. Franklin is a 16-year-old Indigenous farm kid raised by a single White man called Bunky, or The Old Man, in the BC interior. One day a message comes for Frank from his father Eldon. Despite his father’s history of absence dotted by heartbreaking “visits” that left me hating Eldon in the place of my own absent father, Frank saddles up and rides to Parson’s Gap to see him.

He finds his dad dying in a decrepit rooming house. Barely middle-aged, decades of hard drinking have left his liver destroyed. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains he remembers from childhood and, when the time comes, to bury him in the warrior’s way. “You ain’t no warrior,” Frank tells him but agrees to help. It’s the type of man the boy is.

We learn very early that Frank is a master bushman. The Old Man has raised him on the land his whole life and he is in tune with it in a way that most people can only dream of. It‘s obvious that Wagamese has spent a lot of time on the land himself and his description of it is beautiful. In sharp contrast, Eldon has none of his son’s skills.

Along the journey, Frank learns about Eldon’s life. The early loss of his own father, the horrors of the Korean war, the loss of the one woman he loved enough to sober up for and the slow grinding down of someone disconnected from his past trying to make it in a society that doesn’t want him.

Reading about Eldon’s life is hard, his shame is palpable but you can see the man he might have been in Franklin. There is no tearful “I love you Dad!” moment at the end but there is an understanding and acceptance. A wonderful book.

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Jess recommends: Cultish: the Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell.

From the author of the widely praised book “Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language” and host of one of my favourite podcasts “Sounds Like a Cult”, Amanda Montell explores how cultish groups from Jonestown to Scientology to CrossFit and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.

We’re all looking for a satisfying explanation as to why a person would join–and stay in– an extremist group. More importantly, we wonder “could it happen to me?”. In Cultish Montell argues that on some level it already has. Our jobs, our hobbies, our purchases, and our fitness regimes are all informed by linguistic tricks that aren’t so different from ones employed by more nefarious cult leaders.

Her conclusion isn’t necessarily that everyone should be wary of cultish language, but that they should be aware of it. Being able to recognize language’s power of coercion, questioning statements that discourage individual thinking, and being skeptical of loaded language that deliberately creates a heightened emotional state or stigmatizes outsiders allows us to decide what to believe, what to engage with, and what language to use to express ourselves.

Montell writes. “Tuning in to the rhetoric these communities use, and how its influence works for both good and not so good, can help us participate, however we choose, with clearer eyes.”

Place a hold here!

Mikhaila recommends: I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow by Jonathan Goldstein.

From 2004 – ’15 on Saturday afternoons, Jonathan Goldstein graced the CBC airwaves with his satirical radio show “Wiretap.” The show featured stories told to Goldstein over the phone, allowing the listener to eavesdrop—as if the call was wiretapped. Goldstein’s deadpan humour and wit often left listeners questioning the legitimacy of the tales—was there really such a thing as a “ketchup sommelier”? Did one man truly collect all the tears he cried in tiny glass vials?—frustrating those most gullible and entertaining the ones who got it. It wasn’t a show for everyone, but I definitely got it; it was a show for me.

“I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow,” a collection of candid vignettes chronicling the last year of his thirties, is replete with Goldstein’s distinctive brand of wry self-deprecation. He covers the highs and lows of one on the precipice of mid-life with humour, sarcasm and honesty. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (from laughing) and no matter what age you are, but especially if you’re hurtling towards your fortieth birthday, you’ll relate. Read if you like David Sedaris, David Rakoff and laugh-crying your way through a box of tissues.

Hot tip: if you’re into podcasts—and who isn’t these days—JG has a podcast called “Heavyweight.” JG spends the hour-long show attempting to mend all kinds of broken relationships and missed connections without skill or expertise but with surprising tact and sensitivity and, of course, sarcasm. You can listen to JG try to reconnect his father with his estranged brother; his friend Howard with a CD box set loaned to his college roommate Richard Melville Hall (AKA Moby), a CD box set he never saw again and that Howard credits for Moby’s success, and other equally entertaining pieces. “Heavyweight” is only available on Spotify from Gimlet Media and I can’t recommend it more. Happy reading/listening!

Place a hold here!

Melissa recommends: From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way By Jesse Thistle.

Jesse Thistle’s memoir is written so beautifully. His struggles and the adversity he overcame encouraged me to have a softener perspective on individuals who are facing challenges themselves. Courage is one word that describes Jess as he includes all parts of his life, the good the bad and the ugly. What I found most beautiful was his written words showcasing his vulnerability to explore his survival through trauma, addictions and homelessness. I have a hard time recalling what I did last week and am always surprised how an individual can write a memoir with such vivid memories of their life. Despite the years of hardship, it was refreshing that blame was not a recurring theme in the book.

I found it inspiring that the lens in which Jesse wrote was resilience. He took accountability for his actions which were often pure survival. His ownership of the life he was living and the changes he made were nothing but extraordinary. This is more than rags to riches story. It is to deeply love and accept yourself, to make choices to honour and celebrate the small wins. Taking steps in a forward motion. Jesse’s talent for writing is developed through his many accomplishments as he works (nose to the grindstone- with grit and a fighter force) to become a writer, educator and mentor. I felt all emotions as I read this book. I was left with gratuity that Jesse shared his story and to know that he is a mentor, professor in the Department of Humanities at York University in Toronto and an advocate for homelessness. This book made me reflect on what I am able to accomplish in my life. Thank you Jesse for the reminder.

Place a hold here!

Gen recommends: The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

As I was browsing through the upcoming new releases a while back, this book stood out from the rest.

A book about the magic of maps, set in one of the most famous public libraries in the world- Yes, please! I wasn’t disappointed! It was a thoroughly enjoyable read that ticked all the right boxes for me:

 

✅ An intriguing mystery
✅ Likable characters
✅ A sprinkle of magic
✅ A great storyline
✅ A grand adventure

I would absolutely recommend it to anyone in the mood for a good mystery! It’s a journey you won’t forget!

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Emma recommends: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Stuck in a book rut and need a good solid ‘slump-busting’ read? Well, look no further than the latest from Lianne Moriarty! After finishing a really good book I often find myself struggling to pick up something new when nothing just quite lives up to that awesome book I have just finished – however, Lianne Moriarty has safely become one of my go-to authors when I need that next good read to get me back on the right path again.

Part family saga, part mystery Apples Never Fall centres around the Delaney Family – Joy, Stan and their four adult children. The Delaneys are well known in their community largely due to their tennis skills and running the local successful tennis academy.

While from the outside, everything looks rosy in the Delaney family, when Joy mysteriously disappears, things slowly start to unravel as Stan becomes the prime suspect.

If you have already read some of Moriarty’s earlier works (or seen the TV adaptions such as Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers) just when you think you have it all figured out, you can be sure of a few surprising twists and turns along the way.

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Denisa recommends: Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice.

This book was such a page-turner, incredibly entertaining and as Eden Robinson commented on the cover, it was “thrilling in all the right ways”.

The story takes place in a small northern Anishinaabe community where the old ways of survival taught by elders are juxtaposed against the modern generations’ lack of traditional knowledge and dependence on technology as well as the comforts of modern life. I like how the story is told from the perspective of Evan as we see his commitment and care for his family and community. There is some foreshadowing in Evan’s anxious observance of small things like the satellite not working, his phone losing wi-fi and then more so in his own dreams and that of his relatives as well. As all this is happening he is busily preparing for the incredibly harsh winters that they face each year by catching Moose.

The story really picks up when two young men who were going to school in a Southern city come back having survived a harrowing escape and have information of what has been occurring with the lack of electricity and deliveries of food in their temporary communities. From here we learn about the strengths and weaknesses in this particular community’s leadership. When an unexpected and unwanted visitor arrives things quickly go downhill.

Pick up this book to see how it all turns out.

Place a hold here!

Brennan recommends: Moon Witch Spider King by Marlon James.

Moon Witch Spider King (MWSK) is the second installment in Marlon James’ groundbreaking Dark Star trilogy. A fantasy epic described, half-jokingly, as an African Game of Thrones by James himself. No cute hobbits here, this is definitely adult fantasy. Not for the squeamish.

The first book in the series, Black Leopard Red Wolf, gives us the plot. A crew of misfit anti-heroes are brought together to track down a boy kidnapped by monstrous creatures and on whom the fate of the world rests. Each character has their own unique unnatural gifts that make them useful to the mission. They pursue the boy through magical lands, and fantastical city-state/Kingdoms both pursuing and pursued by awful beings, some of which gleaned from African myths.

The first two books use a single member of the mercenary crew as the focal point, through their eyes we witness the adventure unfold. In MWSK it is Sogolon, a woman who began life with no name but collected many over long years. Moon Witch is one of them. The largest part of this book tells the story of Sogolon’s life up to the forming of the search party in Book 1. She is a woman with an indomitable will of her own in a world where patriarchy reigns supreme. Luckily an iron will isn’t her only weapon. She has the ability to call on an unwieldy “wind (not wind)” which has the power to more than level the playing field against any enemy and she wields it to protect those she loves and do her part to destroy patriarchy.

This world that James has created is so rich and his characters so complex and contradictory that these books take a bit of work to read but if you do you will be rewarded with something special.

Place a hold here!

Jess recommends: The night she disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Teenage parents, Tallulah and Zach, are going on a much-needed date to the local pub, leaving their baby with Tallulah’s mother, Kim. When they don’t return by the following morning, Kim starts to worry. The police brush aside her concerns, but Kim knows something is wrong right away, Tallulah would never leave her baby. She spends the next morning phoning all of Tallulah’s friends, trying to piece together where her daughter went the night before, and what she did. They tell Kim that they last saw Tallulah at a party at a house in the nearby woods, The Dark Place. She never returns.

Fast forward 2 years, it’s 2019 and Sophie, the writer of a fictional cozy detective series, has moved into the head teacher cottage at a boarding school where her boyfriend has just started working. She is immediately caught up in the mystery of Tallulah and Zach’s disappearance when she finds a sign on a tree in her new garden… what she finds will revive the missing person case and Kim will finally feel a sliver of hope.

As the story progresses from one POV and timeline to the next, we see that everything is not as it seems and more than one person may know a lot more than what they’re telling. Lisa Jewell takes seemingly unrelated plot threads and weaves them all together to create a seamless and cohesive story all while leaving you hanging at the end of each chapter, eager to learn more.

This was my first Lisa Jewell novel and the perfect book to get me out of the 2022 reading slump I’ve been experiencing (I’m SO behind on my reading goal for this year!). A good mix of likeable and unlikeable characters, relationships that I was rooting for and others that made me want to jump into the pages and scream “RUN!!” This slow-burning novel kept me on my toes until the very end.

Place a hold here!

Mikhaila recommends: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I’ve been struggling to read this year and focus my attention on one book so I dug deep into the recesses of my memory for this one, a novel I read many years ago and think of often.

I’ve read and enjoyed several of Ann Patchett’s books over the years and though I’ve never found her to be a great literary talent, she is a masterful storyteller with a knack for bringing her surroundings to life. What I enjoy most about her novels is that no two are the same—she is impossible to categorize. Whether she is writing about a house or an opera singer in a hostage situation, her stories have an almost magical element without being fantasy.

“State of Wonder” follows pharmacologist Dr. Singh on a dangerous mission into the Brazilian jungle to investigate the mysterious death of her colleague Dr. Eckman, and to search for her former teacher and mentor Dr. Swenson. Dr. Swenson has been sent into the Amazon to conduct pharmaceutical research for which she has been given a blank cheque. Her lack of communication on the progress of her research has prompted concern for the highly sensitive project and its funding. When Dr. Singh arrives in Brazil and is finally able to track down Dr. Swenson, she finds her living amongst the Lakashi people in the middle of the jungle, testing a drug that could change the course of humanity. Dr. Swenson worries that the discovery—a tree bark whose multiple medicinal properties the Lakashi people have known of for centuries—could lead to the destruction of the tribe who have welcomed her and who she now calls family. “State of Wonder” is a suspenseful jungle adventure, with danger around every corner and a surprise ending—nothing is what you think it is.

Read if you like Barbara Kingsolver, Isabelle Allende, and being transported to a perilous tropical rainforest.

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Melissa recommends: Overexposure : a story about a skier by Chad Sayers.

It was during our deep freeze that I took this book out. The images were so well crafted, that as I enjoyed a hot cup of tea on the couch, I felt I was on a wild adventure. The images of the raw mountains took my breath away. Chad’s journey moving from hockey skates in Ontario to skis in BC was what I had dreamed of as a teenager. Chad practiced skiing endlessly, he completed lap after lap of BIG lines, feeling the snow under his skis and pushing his personal ability to go faster and bigger in more challenging terrain, and it was his commitment and drive that helped him to live his dreams and become a professional in the ski industry.

Skiing for me has always been a social opportunity to connect with others and bring the ‘stoke’ and excitement as you ski down the mountain with friends. So, I was interested in Chad’s experience of skiing alone, something that I had often avoided.

When you push your limits and live for adrenaline, the consequences can impact your life forever. Chad spoke of a serious crash that impacted his physical and mental health. Chad’s health deteriorated to a point where he was forced to take time away from skiing, so he explored surfing. The contrast between the ocean and the mountains adds depth to this book. His eye for finding big lines also rolled over into his eye for the perfect shot, and for me, his photography is a highlight in this beautiful book.

Let us celebrate the beauty of our mountains and a local pro skier who shares how to have a new lease on life. And remember to live for the present and take each moment as it comes.

Place a hold here!

Gen recommends: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.

“In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.”

Last year, in my efforts to read more diversely I picked up Crying In H-Mart by Michelle Zauner. I knew nothing about Michelle Zauner (the lead vocalist and songwriter of a pop band called Japanese Breakfast) and I’ve also never been to a H-Mart (but I’d definitely peek in one now if I get the chance). It is an incredibly touching memoir about growing up as an Asian American child in Oregon and the complicated but precious bond between mothers and daughters.

It’s sad (you will most likely cry), it’s funny, it will pull on your heartstrings, but most of all it really made me want to hug my mom and tell her how much I love and appreciate her. It was one of my favourite books from last year.

Place a hold here!

Emma recommends: Five Little Indians by Michelle Good.

If you are following the CBC 2022 Canada Reads you will surely recognise Michelle Good’s debut novel Five Little Indians from the shortlist, along with the many other literary award nomination lists it has appeared on including the 2020 Governor General’s Literacy Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Five Little Indians tells the stories of 5 Indigenous people who all attended a residential school in British Columbia. With the chapters alternating between the different characters and their timelines, we learn of their individual experiences at school but the story mostly concentrates on the aftermath and how their lives were affected by the abuse they experienced. It is a heartbreaking and compelling read as we learn of the challenges faced by the 5 survivors as they deal with their trauma and struggle to survive in 1960s Vancouver.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting to understand more about the residential school experience and how it has impacted both the lives of those who attended, and their families.

Five Little Indians will also be the book club selection for our March Community Book Club, so why not check it out and join the conversation at the Library on Thursday March 31st at 7pm. If you’d like to attend call or visit us to reserve your seat.

Place a hold here!

Denisa recommends: Shadow and Bone (book 1 in the Grisha trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo.

This trilogy begins in book one with two orphans: Alina Starkov and Malyan Oretsev, who being close in age befriend one another. Their benefactor Duke Keramsov had converted his once lavish estate to a home for orphans and widows of the war torn nation of Ravka.

After the brief introduction the story fast forwards to the orphans as young adults in the army on their way through the Shadow Fold; a tract of darkness full of toothy, vicious monsters who feed on human flesh. Sickly Alina who is a map making apprentice in the army feels she has never been good at anything in her life except for being hopelessly in love with her best friend Malyan. Malyan has grown into one of the best trackers in the regiment.

Their world is polarized between the Magical Elite (Grisha) who are masters of the small science and can wield elemental power and the regular humans who cannot. Every child is visited at a certain age by the Grisha to see if they are indeed magical or not. When Alina and Malyan’s regiment moves into the Shadow Fold incredible things occur which will change the course of their lives forever.

If you are interested in an entertaining and fast fantasy to read this is the book for you. I recommend taking out books 1 and 2 if you don’t like cliffhangers. Enjoy!

Place a hold here!

Brennan recommends: A Girl Called Echo A graphic novel series Written by Katherena Vermette, Illustrated by Scott Henderson & Dominic Yaciuk

 Echo Desjardins is a thirteen year old Métis high school student in Winnipeg. A withdrawn girl, we learn that she lives in a group or foster home and is at a new school where she doesn’t really know anyone yet. She always has her ear buds in rocking an amazing playlist of “Mom’s Old CD’s” to both shut out the outside world and keep connection with her semi-estranged Mother.

Volume 1, Pemmican Wars, opens with Echo in the middle of a Métis bison hunt in Saskatchewan, 1814. After surviving a stampede she is awoken by her history teacher whose class she had fallen asleep in. Echo soon realises that her Mom’s tunes can also take her back in time to important moments in her people’s history.

Each volume (Pemmican Wars, Red River Resistance, Northwest Resistance & Road Allowance Era) Finds Echo witnessing milestone moments of the events and struggle that have shaped not only Métis but Canadian identity. Through finding a connection to her past she finds a way to reconnect with her Mom and the world around her.

As an introduction to Métis History that is accessible for anyone grade 5 and up you couldn’t top this series. The Art is beautiful and efficient. Not a frame wasted. It’s amazing the amount of visual info in each slim book. Each volume has a great timeline section in the back that gives you dates of the important events in the book and some other cool tidbits like a pemmican recipe, maps, etc.

Katherena Vermette is one of my favourite authors and just one of many super talented Métis artists bringing their talents and stories to the forefront of Canadian culture. If we listen we’ll all be better for it.

Place a hold on volume one here

Mikhaila recommends: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart.

Calling Shuggie Bain a “good book” feels both insufficient and inappropriate. It’s beautiful but it’s absolutely heartbreaking; nothing good happens in this book—nothing. That said, I couldn’t recommend it more.

TW physical & sexual abuse; attempted suicide; alcoholism.

Set in Thatcher-era Glasgow and written in Scots, this is the story of Hugh (Shuggie) Bain who lives in run-down public housing with his alcoholic mother and two older siblings. When Shuggie’s brother and sister manage to escape their unhappy home and go out on their own, he is left to take care of his mother by himself. Shuggie is an unusual, lonely child who knows he is different from other boys but isn’t sure why; he is teased by neighbourhood kids and the adults in his life tell him that he’s “not right,” all except his mother who, despite her shortcomings, encourages him to be true to himself. Agnes Bain is all beehive, pearly white dentures and fur coats—a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor with a purse full of tins of lager and a penchant for philandering taxi drivers. She drinks away the week’s benefits leaving nearly nothing for her son to survive on. Their relationship has beautiful moments—during a streak of sobriety, she fills an empty refrigerator left in their yard with water, turning it into a pool for her boy—but these are outweighed by the bad as her behaviour becomes more and more self-destructive. The novel spans ‘81-’92 and culminates with Shuggie, age 15, having to make a decision that nobody should be burdened with.

Part autobiography, Douglas Stewart’s award-winning debut novel is an astonishing account of a working-class family and the love between a queer young boy and his tortured mother. The opposite of an uplifting read, you will definitely need a palate cleanser after finishing, but it was the best book I read last year. 10/10

Place a hold here!

Melissa recommends: All That Glitters: A Climber’s Journey Through Addiction and Depression by Margo Talbot.

I learned how to rock climb in Ontario in my 20’s and quickly it became a passion of mine. I would dream of solving routes in my sleep and was so proud of how quickly I became strong without the effort of traditional gym equipment. It has been a long time since I’ve put my climbing shoes back on.

I was attracted to this book as the title “All that Glitters” caught my eye. Margo Talbot is a sponsored ice climber, who navigated her life of addiction and depression through sport. Her book is a beautiful explanation of how nature and being both on the ice or rock climbing supported her through her darkest days. Once I started I didn’t put it down. Living in a mountain community I found common threads of how high adrenaline sports that push a sense of boundaries, adventures and risks, can also be embraced by individuals who feel the depth of darkness in their lives. Margo speaks to the stigma surrounding mental health, her experience with depression and how isolating it was and contrasts her many friends who received support when a visible injury (broken bones) affected them.

Living in the Sea to Sky corridor I have witnessed how mental health affects friends and that isolation can sometimes be far more complicated than a visible injury such as a fractured bone. Margo brought honesty to her experience and how living in Canmore gave her the opportunities to be so directly connected to nature she could not be anything but present. After reading this book I found her 2013 TEDx talk. She is an inspiration for anyone who loves adventure nature and has personally or had a connection to someone who has experienced mental health challenges.

Place a hold here!

Jess recommends: Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons

In the not-so-distant future, humans can live forever…. That is if you’re super-wealthy. Cloning has become a reality, all one has to do is make a trip to your local Palingenesis clinic once a month to upload an updated copy of your consciousness. If you’re lucky enough, your aunt is the brilliant mind behind this technology and she offers you your own clone, something you never dreamt that you could afford.

This is the position that Constance “Con” D’Arcy is in. A talented musician who was once the vocalist in an up-and-coming band, her life was turned upside down when nearly her entire band perished in a car accident on the way to their next gig.

At a routine upload at the clinic, something goes wrong. When Con wakes up it’s eighteen months later and she has no recollection of what has happened. Caught between the powerful and wealthy Vernon Gaddis and Dr. Brooke Fenton, who are fighting for her trust so that they can gain access to whatever information is hidden in her brain. With The Children of Adam, an anti-clone organization, close behind, Con has to work quickly to retrace her steps to solve the mystery of her own murder.

The combination of sci-fi and thriller, my two favourite genres, is what drew me to this book and it didn’t disappoint. A unique approach to both genres, “Constance” is full of twists and turns, likeable and relatable characters, and thought-provoking ethical questions. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down!

Check it out here!

Gen recommends: The Dry by Jane Harper

There’s a good chance that if you’ve asked me for a reading recommendation in the last couple of years, I’ve probably tried (more than once) to convince you to pick up The Dry. I’ve raved about it non-stop since it came out in 2016. It’s the first novel by Jane Harper and boy is she is a master storyteller.

This page-turning mystery is set in a small rural town in Victoria, Australia, suffering through one of the worst droughts in history. Times are tough, livestock and crops are dying and each day is another test of endurance. So, when local farmer, Luke Hadler, shoots his wife and son and then commits suicide, the town is horrified but not really surprised, except for his parents.

When Luke’s childhood best friend Aaron Falk, who also happens to be a Federal Police investigator, returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is asked by Luke’s parents to investigate the murders, and as he does, the town’s hidden secrets and lies begin to emerge.

It’s dark, gritty and so well crafted I didn’t want it to end! If this book has been on your to-read pile for a while, I highly recommend moving it to the top, you won’t be disappointed.

Check it out here!

Emma recommends: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

If you are looking for something to escape the wet dreary weather of the past few days then Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel Malibu Rising will certainly take you on a journey to warmer climates!

Jenkins Reid’s previous two novels (Daisy Jones & The Six, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) have been on my ever-increasing To-Read List for a while and are highly recommended by anyone I have spoken to about them so I was looking forward to finally getting around to reading one of her novels.

Taking place over the course of one day in Malibu in the 1980s we meet the famous Riva family. With a famous singer (but largely absent) father, the four Riva siblings did not have an easy childhood resulting in the eldest Nina, taking on the bulk of the parenting. It’s the day of Nina’s annual end-of summer party and everyone who is anyone is sure to attend, but over the course of 24 hours the family secrets and drama that unfolds will be sure to change their lives forever.

While a novel about famous surfers or celebrity lifestyle would not normally be my thing, I found myself engrossed in the family backstory and the drama of the night unfolding into a shocking conclusion.

Fun fact: one of the central characters also features in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!

Check it out here!

Denisa recommends: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (Daevabad Trilogy)

What a fun book series to dig into for the winter solstice. Nothing like reading about the burning hot deserts of Cairo while I’m in front of the fire and it’s 20 below outside.

It begins with Nahri, the main character, and her hijinks as a con artist on the streets in 18th century Cairo. The thing about Nahri is even though she thinks her crafts of palm reading, and healings are all slights of hand, she has a miraculous ability to heal spontaneously when she gets hurt, and to see the ailments of the people around her. It’s all games and survival until she unknowingly calls an ancient djinn warrior to her side during a healing ceremony one night. This marks the beginning of the fantastical journey to the magical City of Brass; Daevabad.

Nahri is forced to reconsider everything she once believed when the djinn warrior spends the next month travelling, (on a magic carpet), over vast deserts and past the ruins of magnificent human metropolises to return her to the invisible magical city that he swears she is ancestrally tied to.

Once there and under the influence of the ruling family and their politics, more players come into the web of the story. The chapters of the book are shared from the perspective of Nahri and Ali, a prince in the city of brass who has been trained as a military leader for the emir, his older brother Muntadhir who will one day be King.

Full of ancient Egyptian lore and djinn mythology this is the beginning of a rich historical fantasy that doesn’t disappoint.

Check it out here!

Brennan recommends: Hunting By Stars (A Marrow Thieves Novel) by Cherie Dimaline

In 2017 Cherie Dimaline published her young adult novel, “The Marrow Thieves”, it was an immediate smash hit. Hunting By Stars is the sequel.

If you’ve not read “The Marrow Thieves”, here’s a very quick catch-up. Post-apocalyptic Canada. The survivors are in two groups. The Non-Indigenous have lost the ability to dream and it is driving them mad. Indigenous people continue to dream and are now hunted for their marrow which is thought to cure the dreaming sickness of settlers. Indigenous survivors find one another and form new families in a desperate fight to stay free. The book ends with a bang.

“Hunting By Stars” picks up immediately. French, our protagonist/narrator in Marrow Thieves wakes up in the blackness of a residential school, captured. We see what happens to those who get captured and the strength necessary to hang on to hope in the face of torture. An unlikely reunion in prison shows French a glimpse of possible escape but can he cope with the moral treasons he must commit for the greater good? French’s family hasn’t given up on him either. Rose (The love interest) rushes off to single-handedly rescue French followed by Derrick (The romantic rival). They wind up trapped by a truly bizarre group foiling their jailbreak. The rest of the family, tipped off by sympathizers from inside the system, must make a break for the USA where the horrific practices used in Canada are now outlawed by the government. Unfortunately, some Americans don’t agree.

Will Rose, Derrick and French be able to free themselves, reunite with their family and make it to the safety of the States? What if the safety isn’t as safe as they hoped? Tender and thrilling I couldn’t put either book down.

Check it out here!

Jess recommends: Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead by Emily Austin

Gilda’s life is not what she expected it to be. She can’t seem to hold down a job, her cat recently died, and her parents’ are fully in denial about her brother’s severe alcoholism. She’s in and out of the ER so much that she’s on a first-name basis with the janitors, thanks to her hypochondria. Depressed, anxious, and desperate she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church where she finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to say otherwise, Gilda goes along with it and the next thing she knows she, an atheist lesbian, is the newest receptionist at the church. She quickly learns that her predecessor is recently deceased, and instead of breaking the news to her good friend via e-mail, she decides to impersonate the late woman. When suspicious circumstances arise around Grace’s death, Gilda tries to keep all her lies together but at some point, the mortifying truth has to come out…

I loved this book because of its honest portrayal of the struggles of managing mental illness, and the broken system we have in place to “help”. The subject matter is heavy and hard to read at times, yet Austin manages to make it relatable and witty. Maybe I relate to it because of my experiences with my mental health, or that the protagonist is the same age and takes up the same space as me in the world, or simply because it’s set in an area in SW Ontario that I’m familiar with. No matter what the reason, Austin’s ability to make me laugh, cry, contemplate all while ending this honestly too real book on a hopeful note will have me anxiously awaiting her next novel.

TW: depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, homophobia, self-harm, intrusive thoughts.

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Mikhaila Recommends The Outlander by Gil Adamson.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages, so I chose it for the November book club book, and let me tell you, I’m so glad I did! It’s 1903 and a young, recently widowed fugitive is on the run, through the woods and mountains along the BC-Alberta border with her deceased husband’s twin brothers and their pack of bloodhounds hot on her trail. Mary Boulton, who has just murdered her husband, makes her way through rocky, wooded terrain, coming into contact with a cast of characters of all inclinations all the while one step ahead of the law. She is wily and smart, learns how to scrape by off the land with very few implements, covering her tracks as she goes. You’re in the action right from the get, and the story doesn’t slow down, propelling you through to the last page.

Throughout the tale, Adamson includes real-life events and places, making The Outlander part historical fiction, and the action and characters give it the air of a literary western. The Outlander is a very fun, hard-to-put-down novel that you will not regret picking up.

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Melissa recommends: The Guncle by Steve Rowley.

“Families come in all different shapes and sizes. The main character Patrick is a famous sitcom star that has taken a break from acting. He lives a lavish lifestyle as a single gay man in Palm Springs. Patrick requests to be called GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick) by his niece, Maisie and nephew, Grant, who spend the summer with him following the death of their mother. The adventures that Maisie, Grant & GUP experience bring a lightheartedness as they deal with grief and loss. GUP creates “Guncle Rules” that are threaded throughout the novel. Rule #8 “live your life to the fullest every single day because every day is a gift” is a way to bring light to growing up and navigating the world.

Unconditional love is a theme that is very present throughout the entire novel. How tragedy hurts you to the core and with love your pain will lessen over time. GUP lives his life with an unapologetic force that teaches the children to believe in themselves and stand up for who they are. As GUP introduces the children to his friends and social circles love is ever-present. This book made me laugh, have a heavy heart at times and reminded me that seeing life through the eyes of children can change your perspective on how you see what’s in front of you. ”

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Gen recommends: She Who became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan.

“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 restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. .”

She Who Becomes the Sun reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Reminiscent of Mulan but with all the political betrayals of Game of Thrones, plus a sprinkling of magic, this historical fantasy is sure to enthrall anyone who enjoys historical and/or fantasy fiction. I loved it!

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Emma recommends: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward.

Ted lives a lonely existence in a boarded-up house with his daughter, Lauren, and his cat, Olivia. When new neighbour, Dee, moves in next door investigating the mystery around her younger sister who disappeared from the nearby lake some years ago, she is convinced that Ted has something to do with it.

And so this is essentially how much of the book I can describe without giving too much away – I originally picked it up just before Halloween thinking I was going to be reading a spooky Stephen King-esque horror novel but when one of the early chapters is written from the perspective of Olivia the cat I was seriously wondering what on earth I was reading. This story definitely starts off strange and slowly unfolds over the course of the novel, leaving you trying to guess what is actually going on. Perfect for fans of Alex North’s The Whisper Man or Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, this is a dark literary thriller that will not disappoint!

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Denisa Recommends: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

This is the first book in the Winternight Trilogy and I recommend them all if you are in the mood to tuck into a cozy, fantasy world this winter solstice.

Vasilisa the main character lives in the unforgiving wilderness in Russia with her family where snow blankets the land most of the year. She spends her childhood around the hearth with her siblings while her beloved nurse tells the stories of centuries-old fairy tales. Vasilisa takes these stories to heart, especially the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon who claims the souls of those who’ve passed. As the story unfolds we get to know Vasilisa and her other siblings as well as her Father, and how they are affected by the passing of her Mother. We learn that Vasilisa has a gift for seeing those creatures that cannot be seen by all.

Eventually Vasilisa’s father brings home a new wife who is very strict and devout and not accustomed to honouring the spirits of the house let alone allowing Vasilisa to run wild in the wilderness. Vasilisa retreats more into herself and finds solace in her forest friends. She learns to speak to the horses and becomes well versed in their language. Her step-mother becomes more and more determined to have Vasilisa sent to a convent. Vasilisa is coming of age and is more determined than ever to be free of her step-mother’s rules and forced marriage.

Vasilisa’s character isn’t afraid to be unapologetically herself, in a world that tries to stamp the wildness out of women. As the story progresses we see her coming into her strengths and having many fantastical adventures as she navigates the harsh winters of Russia. The slowly blooming love story is an added bonus as the trilogy unfolds. This book is a magical telling of Russian folklore and will keep you entertained the whole way through.

Place a hold on it here!

Brennan recommends: The Break by Katherena Vermette.

Katherena Vermette’s 2016 debut novel is set in Winnipeg’s North End. It’s the place she grew up and her sense and description of the place made me feel as if I was visiting every time I opened the book.
The story opens with Stella, a young mother of 2, witnessing an act of violence outside her window. Alone with her children, she is too afraid to do anything but call the police. What follows is the telling of a family’s story over 4 generations stretched over the frame of a whodunnit.
Vermette uses multiple (at least 10) narrators in the weaving of the story. All but 2 are kin and only one is a man. Thankfully there is a family tree at the start of the book which I definitely needed for the first half of the book.
Chapter by chapter our narrators weave a story of a family marginalized by the society that surrounds them. They have their flaws and weaknesses and have had to endure more tragedy and hardship than is fair but, far from being characters to pity the strength and love of these women for one another, their ability to hold each other up against the odds gives them power and dignity. All the characters are beautifully constructed complicated people but Kookum (Grandmother) reminded me so much of my own Grandma I was taken by surprise by all the memories that came back. To the grand or great grandchildren she is unconditional love, kindness and comfort. Little do they know how hard she had to fight to keep the family together.
To create a portrait of a family this deep and real is impressive but to do it via a crime drama that had me page flipping like it was a James Patterson feels like some kind of witchcraft. Can’t wait to read the follow up, The Strangers (available at the Library!).
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Mikhaila Recommends: Fight Night by Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews has long been one of my faves. Her novels center around Mennonite families and characters or those who have left the Mennonite faith. Raised Mennonite herself, Toews approaches even the heaviest of subject matter with humour and wit, never failing to elicit laughter, making even the most depressing topics digestible. I’ve never met a Toews novel I didn’t like, but her last two were quite weighty, so I was pleased to see that she had reverted again to a more lighthearted story with her new book.

Meet Swiv, a spirited 9-year-old who has been expelled from school for fighting. Her father has recently left her family, her mother is pregnant with a yet-genderless baby dubbed “Gord,” and her elderly grandma Elvira has come to live with them, to help look after and homeschool Swiv—though it is debatable who is looking after who. Her mother, an actor, is often out, leaving Swiv to help her grandma dress and take her many pills; they watch televised sports, saw novels in half so Elvira can hold them in her arthritic hands and they adventure across town on public transit. Swiv has tasked her grandma and mother with writing letters to Gord and she has been told to write a letter to her absent father—letters they will never send. Elvira is a tenacious ex-Mennonite who is ready to face death; Swiv’s mother has a short fuse, trying her best to single parent Swiv and make it through her geriatric pregnancy; Swiv is funny and jaded, she is worried about what traits she will inherit from her mother and she is concerned for her grandma’s well-being.

This story about mothers and grandmothers fighting to live life on their own terms is filled with Toew’s trademark dark humour and had me guffawing within the first pages. If you’re looking for a quick, heart-warming read, I really couldn’t recommend it more.

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Melissa Recommends: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

This book came as a recommendation as I wanted a mystery that kept you reading way past your bedtime. I Let You Go, does not disappoint. What I found captivating was the layers within the story. I was so engaged that it was ½ way through the story when I stopped and realized that the character who I thought I was reading about was a completely different character. This mystery thriller was so well crafted.

A tragic hit and run that results in the death of a child. With the Police investigating this tragedy 2 detectives tirelessly continue on the case despite the case turning cold. The detective’s working relationship adds a layer into the story of how devastating police cases are when there is the death of a child. The grieving mother’s character developed as the author left little crumbs of information planted throughout the novel. When I was nearing the end of the book all the storylines collided and all loose ends were tied up. It was 1 sentence that the author ends on that still has me thinking about this book. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is a WIN for me!

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Jess recommends: The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Every city has a soul, and the great cities of civilization- like Rome, Athens, São Paolo- will eventually reach a point where they come to life. Not all cities will survive this transition, but New York still has a fighting chance.

Early in the book we meet the city’s avatar, a young, queer, black man living on the streets. He is trying to salvage the city, trying to keep it from cracking, but a battle with the Enemy has worn him down. He needs the 5 boroughs to come together to awaken him, to save the city from its untimely demise.

Our story starts off slow as our team awakens and assembles. Each avatar- Manny, Aislyn, Bronca, Brooklyn, and Queen- has their own journey in realizing and understanding what they are. As they come together, more information comes to them and it becomes obvious what they need to do. The more in tune they are with themselves, with their city, the more the city tells them. The only problem is, the Enemy has taken one of their own. One of the boroughs has been brainwashed by the entity that’s trying to destroy New York; she believes this evil being is her friend. Will they be able to come together in time to save their city? To save their souls?

I love science fiction, I love fantasy. This was such a unique story line and concept, I haven’t read anything remotely similar. “The City We Became” is a continuation of a short story written by N.K. Jemisin called “The City Born Great”, which I have yet to read, but I wonder if that would have helped establish the world a bit more and helped me enjoy the beginning of the book.

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Gen recommends: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley.

“A groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, perfect for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.”

The story was captivating, with plenty of action and a great cast of characters, but what I really loved about this book is how Anishinaabe culture is so gorgeously integrated into the story.

Although a work of fiction, the book is set around the Ojibwe community Angeline Boulley grew up in, and her father is a traditional firekeeper. From the moment I started reading, I could feel the love for her community, their beliefs, traditions, language and way of life- it just radiates off the pages. I loved the beautiful teachings scattered throughout the story and the use of Anishinaabemowin.

It is a beautiful novel, a powerful story of resilience in the face of adversity. Firekeeper’s Daughter is Angeline Bouelly’s debut novel and, I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

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Emma recommends: I Love My Air Fryer 5-Ingredient Recipe Book by Robin Fields.

So, the big question is – should kitchen appliances be acceptable birthday/ mother’s day/ Christmas gifts????
I suppose ultimately it depends on the appliance but when I was gifted an air fryer earlier in the year by my wonderful husband, I was underwhelmed to say the least. I was determined to hate it – another kitchen appliance to clutter up the counter-top – until I made a roast chicken in it and I had to promptly apologise for my ingratitude! Best chicken EVER!!! And the chicken wings – oh my…..

Anyway, long story short – I now LOVE my air fryer and whether you are already a converted air fryer user or contemplating getting one (Christmas gift perhaps?), this handy little book will serve to enhance your air fryer journey with an ample supply of easy, tasty, classic recipes.

Place a hold here!

Did you know? The Library collection has expanded to include some lendable kitchen equipment – and while we may not have an air fryer (yet!) we do have a juicer, canner, and dehydrator available to borrow!

Denisa Recommends: The Gut-Immune Connection by Emeran Mayer

I’ve recently gotten back into the magical world of fiction; however I love non-fiction. My latest non-fiction is all about the gut but so much more!

The author Emeran Mayer is a gastroenterologist and a neuroscientist and a leader in the latest science on the gut microbiome. The gut-microbiome is hard to define simply, but as I understand, it is an ecosystem similar to the soil we grow our food in, which contains trillions of living fungi, bacteria, viruses and single-celled animals that communicate with the other organs in our body such as our brain to maintain a healthy system. Our microbiome is changing and adapting over our lives and is especially affected by stress, our environment and what we put into our bodies be it food or antibiotics.

It seems to be a more important time than ever to have a strong immune system. I like the way Dr. Mayer ties in the health of the soil on the planet with our own health and my favourite idea from his book is his concept of one health which he explains in the following quote from chapter nine in the book, “I believe the idea that there is only one health – the unifying concept of a movement that has historically examined the connection between animal and human health, more recently considering the environment too – should be broadened to encompass a multidisciplinary view of humans, food, microbiomes, animal and plant health, and the environment, with the understanding that these are all imperceptibly connected.”

This book was inspiring and enlightening and I couldn’t help but be incredibly grateful for the abundance of organic and biodynamic farmers in our valley contributing not only to the health of our soils but the health of us all as a community.

Place a hold here!

Brennan recommends: We Own This City by Justin Fenton

Justin Fenton’s debut book is a true story of a police scandal so shocking and brazen that, were it a work of fiction, it might be rejected for being far-fetched. Following the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s elite unit, the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), from 2007-2017 Fenton uses all the skills, contacts and nuance gained from years working the crime beat for the Baltimore Sun to stitch together a culture of corruption and neglect far larger than any single police unit.

The story of the GTTF revolves around it’s driving force Det. Wayne Jenkins, a scrapper with a reputation for getting results at an incredible pace. While opinions may be divided on him, one thing is certain he has a knack for giving the bosses what they want, guns and dope on the table at police press conferences. This skill bought Jenkins and his all-star squad of street detectives the space to run wild. In a department renowned for its corruption this was next level. Think of a criminal syndicate who masqueraded as police just enough to do their real job, Robbing dealers. To cover their tracks they falsified evidence wholesale leading to decades behind bars for innocent people, the death of an elderly citizen and the mysterious death of a fellow task force member the day before testifying in front of a grand jury. It’s barely believable that this went on for the better part of a decade.

While focused on the main story of the GTTF Fenton offers a window on a city destroyed by the “War On Drugs”.

P.S. For a deeper look at Baltimore check out The Wire. All 5 seasons are available on DVD at the Library.

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Mikhaila recommends: We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida

I’ve always been a sucker for a good coming of age story. Especially those that take place in days of yore. I’m an inherently nostalgic person, for my own life and the lives of others.

WRTT is set in the 80’s—a decade I experienced first-hand, though fleetingly as I was born smack in the middle—and takes place in the neighbourhood of Sea Cliff, SF, a suburb confirmed by my San Franciscan boyfriend as being the “ritzy part of town,” made up of large houses on high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I picture the Sea Cliff of the 80’s being overrun with BMW-driving, Izod-polo-shirt-wearing preppy teenaged boys named Chaz, escorting Princess-Diana-wringer girlfriends named Debbie and WRTT all but confirms it.

Our narrator, 13-year-old half-Swedish Eulabee, and her best friend—only ever referred to by both first and last name—sugar heiress Maria Fabiola are inseparable. They run the streets of Sea Cliff; they know the neighbourhood and all of its secrets. One day, on the way to their exclusive all-girls private school, they witness a sinister act they each remember differently. The resulting dispute ruptures their bond and shortly after, MF disappears, potentially kidnapped. Sea Cliff comes together to look for her, whilst Eulabee remains skeptical, aware of her friend’s need for attention and habit for stretching the truth.

This mystery will give you all the feels: you’ll laugh at Eulabee’s pontifications on the innate qualities of Swedes; you’ll squirm with a discomfort most familiar to those who were once biological females at the onset of puberty; you’ll cry at the end because it’s over.

“Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” meets “Stand by Me,” this book could be considered YA, but thankfully it’s in our Adult Fiction section because it may not have caught my eye otherwise.

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Jess recommends: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

What would you do if you thought your young daughter might be possessed? Or mentally ill? Or just plain evil? What if you were the only one who saw that side of her?

Hanna is a sweet-but-silent angel in the eyes of her adoring Daddy, Alex. She feels that he’s the only person that understands her, and she wants him all to herself. The only problem is Mommy, whose chronic illness worries Daddy and takes away Hanna’s precious time with him.

Suzette loves her daughter but after years of medical tests, expulsions, and strained homeschooling, she is at her limit when it comes to managing her daughter’s muteness and behavioural issues. Especially because her husband refuses to believe her.

The story is told from Hanna and Suzette’s alternating perspectives. I enjoyed having a peek into Hanna’s thoughts, her intelligence and sophistication is unsettling and hearing her lack of remorse from her perspective is chilling. Suzette struggles with motherhood, she’s doing her best considering her lack of a role model growing up, but she can’t help but wonder if Hanna’s behaviour is her fault and if home isn’t the best place for her baby girl after all…

I couldn’t put this book down, I loved the slow and realistic building of tension between the members of this family. The ending left me with some unanswered questions, and not having the answers makes this story all the more memorable.

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Melissa recommends: The Alchemist: a graphic novel by Paulo Coelho, illustrated by Daniel Sampere.

This was my first graphic novel. I am TEAM Alchemist all the way, I make an effort to read this book every year for the last 15 years. Depending on what is happening in my life I have taken away different messages each time I read it. This is a fable about a shepherd, Santiago, who travels from his home of Spain to the Market of Tangiers to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure. A picture does speak a thousand words. Witnessing the fable with graphics gave me a new perspective on the text that I am so familiar with. There are two very talented artists who depict this fable with such depth I felt as I was in alongside Santiago’s journey.

I have never been to any of the locations of this fable and was moved by the rich colour palette that was selected. The images of the characters have very strong chiselled faces reminiscent of power. Each image impacts the reader to question where they hold power within their lives. Daniel Sampere who has always drawn action comics was faced with the challenge of portraying a life-changing journey. Daniel’s artistic perspective brings out the underlying storyline of fighting for what you want in life without any fear.

Derek Ruiz transformed the words into magical images understood the importance of Paulo Coelho’s message that your personal legend, your dreams can become reality. Both artist interpretations create a seamless transition from novel to graphic novel. This did not disappoint and I’m excited to explore more graphic novels.

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Gen recommends: The Arsonist: a mind on fire by Chloe Hooper.

“On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno.

The Arsonist takes readers on the hunt for this man, and inside the strange puzzle of his mind. It is also the story of fire in this country, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element. The command of fire has defined and sustained us as a species – understanding its abuse will define our future.”

Although set in Australia this book is alarmingly relevant considering our recent and ongoing struggles with wildfires (as I write this review around 200 fires are burning in BC) and climate change. The Arsonist not only details the devastating effects of wildfires but also warns us of an apocalyptic future and asks some very pertinent questions; What role does society play in disasters? How much do issues like poverty, unemployment and discrimination contribute to the conditions for violent acts? Can court systems facilitate justice for everyone, even those with mental disabilities?

It is a heart-breaking yet captivating read- one that has stuck with me long after I finished the last page.”

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Emma Recommends: Hostage by Claire Mackintosh

“I have been a big fan of Clare Mackintosh’s previous titles so was eagerly awaiting her new release “Hostage” this summer. Taking place over the course of an inaugural 20 hour non-stop flight from London to Sydney, Australia, this is a fast paced psychological thriller that as the title suggests, sees the flight and it’s passengers taken hostage. Flight attendant Mina is given the terrifying ultimatum to follow the anonymous instructions to make sure the flight does not reach its destination, or her young daughter will pay the price.

As with Mackintosh’s previous novels, Hostage is action packed, with lots of character development and unreliable narrators galore that will keep you guessing. Not wanting to give too much of the plot away, all I will say is that this is not your typical hijack story and has an epilogue that will leave you wanting more!”

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Denisa recommends: Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky.

“I recently finished a very intense historical fiction, so I chose this book as a light read antidote. It fit the bill perfectly.

I was born in the 1980’s and although I am in the social media and digital world now I grew up for the most part without computers or social media at all. For this reason I found this book equally fascinating and disturbing. Overall it deals with the themes of social media & narcissistic tendencies, creativity vs making money, and the commodification of spirituality and creativity as well as authenticity in the age of marketing and social media.

You move through the book from the perspective of Lillian, a forty year old artist who does pet portraits with the cool twist of being able to see the animals’ colourful auras. I appreciated the ability to know a perspective that is not my own but also cringed seeing how she seemed to be a slave to her social media feeds and every experience of her life being documented there.

Lillian eventually meets up with a long lost relative who has completely renamed herself and created an empire of feminine lifestyle branding where she sells her pricey Ascendancy Program to teach people about spiritual awakening, leadership and marketing. Lillian very quickly changes pace from her humble life in Toronto to live in New York and work at her cousin’s office called the Temple. She experiences a creativity block amidst all of her changes and increased monetary abundance but eventually finds her way back to her true calling with even more colour than before.

All in all, an easy breezy read.”

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Brennan recommends: The Reconciliation Manifesto by Arthur Manuel

“Arthur Manuel (1951-2017, RIP) wore many hats during his life. Son of the legendary political theorist and Indigenous rights activist George Manuel, Arthur was raised in the struggle. A member of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation he was 4 times elected Chief of his home community of Neskonlith, 3 times elected Chair of the Shuswap Tribal Council and, internationally, a contributor to and driver of countless international Indigenous conferences and initiatives. In short he was a tireless fighter for Indigenous Peoples at home and abroad.

Written with long-time collaborator Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, the book was released shortly after Arthur’s death in 2017. A surprisingly easy read, Manuel breaks his 300 pages into short chapters, helpful for settlers like me who have spent far too much of our lives in a state of ignorance about this place we call Canada.

There is a lot of history. Proclamations, treaties, pronouncements, legal decisions, Papal bulls are just some of the techniques used by the settler state to reduce the land under indigenous control in this country to 0.2%. Arthur does a good job of taking us through this history without taking us too far into the weeds because at the end of the day it’s not complicated. Their land was stolen using whatever method was needed at the time to justify it. There can be no true reconciliation without land being given back.

I’ve neither the skills or the space here to do justice to this book, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the arguments presented in it but we would do well to listen to those who live daily with the effects of this crushing system that has been put upon them. They know what to do.”

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Mikhaila recommends There There by Tommy Orange.
“I finally got around to reading There There last month after having it recommended to me by several friends. I was given a dog-eared copy, originally gifted by me to my dad and then passed around by my family. Many pages were loose and corners creased but these are the hallmarks of an excellent, well-loved novel.
There There is the stories of twelve Native Americans leading up to the (fictional) Big Oakland Powwow. Their motivations for attending are different yet they are all or will be connected to each other in some way. Each of the twelve characters is struggling or coming to terms with their Indigenous identity: Opal denies her great-nephews, now her adopted sons, the opportunity to learn about their Indigenous heritage because of the ways in which she feels it has failed her; Orville has not been allowed to explore his Indigenous heritage yet feels an intrinsic yearning, secretly dressing in the regalia he discovers in his great-aunt’s closet and listening only to what his brother’s call “powwow music”; Edwin is biracial, his Caucasian mother unable to teach him about his history, his father unknown, he spends his days surfing the internet, but has just started an internship with the Big Oakland Powwow. All of them are uncertain of what to expect at the much anticipated event, but all of them feel the need to go.
This novel is a wonderfully written account of the plight of the urban Native American. It’s a fast read, a page turner, including essays on how the urban Native American came to be, the etymology of Indigenous last names, and all the different sorts of people that you’ll come across at a Powwow. There There has stuck with me, popping into my head at least once a day. It’s informative, funny, and heart breaking and I highly recommend everyone pick it up.”
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Denisa recommends: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

“This book was hard to put down. What a great lyrical weaving of past and present Mississippi history from the intimate angle of a family living on a farm in the Gulf Coast.
Jojo is a young man nearing teenagehood who is cared for mainly by Pap, his Grandfather. Mam, his Grandmother is sick and very quiet in her bed. Leonie is his drug addicted Mother who is in and out of the home. Kayla is his toddler sister who is nurtured and cared for by her big brother. Given is his Uncle, Leonie’s dead brother who she sees only when she’s high. I appreciate how the author seamlessly changed the character telling the story throughout the chapters.
When Leonie’s boyfriend is released from the infamous Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, she forces Jojo and Kayla to come with her and a friend to pick him up. This road trip is riddled with danger and fear especially for Jojo who has to be strong for Kayla in the face of such neglect as Leonie tries to move past the trauma of her brother’s unjust death to be able to care for her children, never succeeding fully.
Throughout the book, Jesmyn weaves in storytelling about other lives affected by the horrific racism plaguing generations past and present. This story highlights how when one person shows up for a child in their life they can carry that love on through the next generations.
“I hope I fed you enough. While I’m here. So you carry it with you. Like a camel. “ I can hear the smile in her voice, faint. A baring of teeth. “Maybe that ain’t a good way of putting it. Like a well, Jojo. Pull that water up when you need it.” Jesmyn Ward”

An eye-opening, touching story.

Place a hold on it here!