Staff Picks

 

View all of our staff picks lists here!

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.

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

Place a hold here!

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.

Place a hold here!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Jess Recommends: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

“Hi! I’m Jess, one of the newest staff members at the Pemberton Library.
Lately I’ve been trying to branch out from my usual suspense and sci fi novels, and Elizabeth Acevedo’s “Clap When You Land” was the perfect way to ease into a more realistic genre. Written in-verse (think non-rhyming poetry), this book begins with tragedy. In November 2001, flight AA587 crashed to the ground on its way to Santo Domingo, killing 265 people on a flight where 90% of the passengers were Dominican or of Dominican descent. Amongst them was a beloved father on his way to visit his anxiously awaiting daughter, Camino, for his yearly summer visit. Told from the perspective of two young women, Camino and Yahaira, this story tackles the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness and how secrets, no matter how wounding, can ultimately bring a family together.”

Place a hold here.

Gen recommends: The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

“Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?’

The Lamplighters is an atmospheric slow-burning mystery that unravels layer by layer. I really had no idea of how it would end, and if you’re hoping for a well rounded conclusion- all your burning questions neatly answered type of ending- this may not be the novel for you, but I felt that the deliberate ambiguity only added to the mystery. A really enjoyable read!”

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Emma recommends: The Searcher by Tana French

“As a fan of a good literary thriller, Tana French has been an author that has regularly appeared on my reading recommendations, but I had yet to try any of her titles. The Searcher is her latest novel and if you are looking for a solid character driven mystery novel to start off your summer reading, French is a solid choice. Cal Hooper is a retired detective who moves from Chicago to a remote village in rural Ireland. He plans to live out a quiet existence, exploring the mountains and fixing up the run down cottage he has bought. Of course, that wouldn’t make as entertaining a story, so enter a shy local boy that asks Cal for help finding his missing brother that the rest of the village doesn’t seem concerned about. There is an interesting twist that I definitely didn’t see coming and I found myself really enjoying the banter between Cal and his neighbour – reminding me of many colloquialisms I have forgotten since moving to Canada 8 years ago!”

Place a hold here.

Melissa recommends: The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

We’d like to introduce everyone to one of our newest team members, Melissa!

“Hi, I’m Melissa and am new to the Team here at Pemberton Library. I’m very curious, love learning and am a slow but steady reader. I’ve been in the Sea to Sky since 2006, but transplanted from Barrie Ontario. If you don’t see me in the library I’m likely outside enjoying nature.

It was the mid 1990’s and my parents decided to take the whole family (3 teenage kids & an elderly Oma) to Holland where my mother was born. This was the once in a lifetime international family vacation. As a teenager at the time my memories of the experience had undertones of big emotions, rich food, car time and intergenerational differences.

The Perkin family embark on a family cruise, which the mother wins as part of a writing contest. This allows her to “Become a jetsetter” and take her 3 adult children in the hope of stitching the family into the tight knit family they once were. As the story unfolds the reader gains insights into each adult child, deep secrets, personal struggles they face individually and the dynamic between siblings. With the Perkin family forced to be in each other’s space the layers of family drama bubbles to the surface. What I enjoyed about this story was that it illustrates the deep love of a mother as she dreams of closeness the siblings once had. The adult children are able to see their mother as a risk taking woman who challenged her own family structure as a young woman before becoming a mother. This is a great summer read that will make you question if you are ever asked to go on a family vacation what skeletons are in the closet.”

Place a hold here.

Brennan recommends: Sufferance by Thomas King.

“Jeremiah Kemp is a man of few words, actually, make that no words. He literally doesn’t have a spoken line in the book. A uniquely talented man, Jeremiah AKA the Forecaster, detects patterns that very few can. His employer for the last 30 years was the Locken Group, a giant multinational who benefitted from these talents. The problem with the gift of sight is that sometimes we see too much. Jeremiah did. Kemp now lives in a former residential school which he didn’t buy but belongs to him now. He has no phone, internet, TV or even mailbox. What it does have is a graveyard with 77 plain white crosses on it which Kemp is replacing with river stones that he hauls and engraves, each with the name of a victim of the school. When he needs a break he goes for a walk around the neighbouring communities of the Cradle River First Nation and the settler town of Gleaming. For a guy who doesn’t speak Jeremiah sure has a lot of people who like talking to him. His neighbours refuse to let him hide in a cocoon and as the book moves along he finds himself being reintegrated into the community he was estranged from little by little, whether he likes it or not. Kemp’s old employer isn’t done with him yet, however. His last forecast was a list of twelve billionaires seemingly unconnected until they begin dying under strange circumstances one after another. The Locken group needs to find the pattern and “No” is not an option. Sufferance is equal parts rebuke of things we’re taught to cherish (personal gain, individualism, limitless accumulation of wealth. Greed in short) and celebration of things we should (our connections with and obligations to ALL our relations) wrapped up in a political whodunnit. Well worth the read.”

Place a hold here!

Mikhaila recommends: How to Order the Universe by María José Ferrada.

“This little book came to me by way of an email of recommendations I receive monthly from Vulture (a NYT Magazine publication) called Read Like the Wind. Literary critic and contributing writer Molly Young chooses 3 main reads and a handful of honourable mentions, offering a well-written, concise review of each. Some are old, some are new, all are slightly obscure. I’ve now read several of her recommendations and enjoyed each quirky one. I was so pleased when How to Order the Universe fell into my hot little hands, firstly because it’s such a pretty little book and secondly because the premise intrigued me: A 7-year-old girl, only known as M, becomes her travelling-salesman-father’s sidekick as he hawks hardware against a backdrop of Pinochet-era Chile. She skips school, they smoke cigarettes, they swindle prospective customers and they hang out in truck stops where they share tall tales with their fellow peddlers, all unbeknownst to her mother. I started knowing pretty much null about the Chilean revolution and didn’t know much more by the end, but because it is told from the perspective of a 7-year old, I’m not sure that the intention is to educate. I finished feeling how I would imagine a 7-year-old would feel coming up during a military dictatorship: not entirely sure of what is happening, but knowing that it can’t be good. This is a quick read (more of a short story, really), just as beautifully written and translated as it is designed, and it definitely made me aware of my own ignorance and encouraged me to learn more about this history. I highly recommend setting aside 1.5 hrs read this charming account of an awful period. As with Molly and a reviewer before her, “when I finished the last pages, I truly had to stare at the wall.”

Place a hold on it here!

Gen recommends: The Cold Vanish: seeking the missing in North America’s wildlands by Jon Billman.
“I love reading stories of people defying the odds and tales of survival, like the book 438 Days, where Jose Salvador Alvarenga survived for fourteen months in a small boat drifting in the Pacific Ocean. Or the inspirational book No Barriers written by Erik Weihenmayer, the first and only blind man to summit Mt. Everest and kayak the Grand Canyon! But, on the other hand, I am also drawn to darker tales like Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, where sometimes adventure turns into tragedy.
Much like Krakauer’s Into the wild, The Cold Vanish stemmed from an article written for Outside magazine. Billman, a frequent contributor to Outside magazine, was tasked by his editor to estimate the number of people missing in the wilds of North America. His research reveals that no official tally exists, and estimates vary so wildly that it is difficult to put an exact number on just how many people are missing.
The Cold Vanish examines several missing person cases from North America where people have disappeared without a trace. These stories defy conventional logic. People vanish into thin air. Is it intentional, are they incredibly unlucky, or is it something more sinister?
The book primarily focuses on the case of Jacob Gray. Jacob disappeared from Olympic National Park in Washington in 2017. After the initial search fails to locate Jacob, Jacob’s father Randy relentlessly continues the search for Jacob. Billman joins Randy’s search following leads across the US and even into Canada. Billman does an incredible job of compassionately conveying the emotional roller-coaster of pain and hope.
The book is a stark reminder to always be prepared for the worst when heading into the wilderness. A riveting read for any outdoor enthusiast.”
Place a hold on it here!
Emma recommends: The Authenticity Project by Claire Pooley.
“After hitting another phenomenal book slump this past few weeks I needed something a little ‘lighter’ to break the run of bad luck I was having in my book selections. I normally turn to authors such as Lianne Moriarty when I need a good palate cleanser but while perusing the available titles on Libby I came across The Authenticity Project by Claire Pooley.
What would happen if everyone stopped lying about their lives and told the truth about what was really happening? The story centres around a green notebook that has been intentionally left at a London cafe by lonely septuagenarian Julian Jessop, inside which he shares the truth about his life and invites its future readers to do the same, before leaving it a new location. Inevitably the contributors all supply just enough personal information that can identify them to each other so that their paths cross and what emerges is the story of six strangers united by one solitary green notebook as they confront the realities of their own lives and each others.
It was only at the author notes at the end that I learned that Claire is also the author of bestsellingThe Sober Diaries: How one woman stopped drinking and started living and that many of the central characters are largely based on her own challenges with living that “perfect life”, her subsequent sense of losing herself and dependence on alcohol. While there are no great surprises in how the story evolves, this was a heart-warming read about the importance of being true to yourself, and how being brave and putting yourself out there to make real connections with people, is not as scary as it may seem. “
Place a hold on it here!
Denisa recommends: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.
“This book was a great read, Barbara’s writing is lyrical and full of creative energy. The book is written with three main stories that all have independent women protagonists in common.
It begins with a random but steamy love affair in the isolated mountains where a wildlife biologist, Deanna Wolfe has seemingly sworn off society in favour of tracking a wild pack of coyotes. She is caught by surprise when a hunter appears out of nowhere and bedazzles her with his youthful charm.
Then the story of a long held family farm down the mountain where Lusa Maluf Landowski, a city girl, marries the heir to the farm and has to adapt to a very different lifestyle.
Third is the story of an old man angry at the world and fighting with nature who learns a thing or two from his neighbour Nannie Rawley.
Barbara weaves many types of love story between the characters while debates of religion, pesticides, insects and small-town life are played out in the Appalachian mountains. She tells the tale of a community in relationship with wilderness and their role in working with or against it. The subplots within the book eventually all weave together beautifully.”
Place it on hold here!

 Brennan recommends: Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King.

“One of the first things you pick up listening to or reading Thomas King is that he was born to tell stories. Even on the page, it feels like he’s speaking a world into existence. I trust him to tell a great story which is why I stuck with this one even though for the first 50ish pages I hadn’t the foggiest clue what was happening. If you like your plots linear this is NOT the book for you.

We get the story from an unknown narrator as he tells the story to Coyote, the trickster of plains nations folklore, however, the narrator is also being narrated to by the 4 Old Indians. These supernatural beings each represent a character from indigenous oral traditions and in the telling of their stories, there is a kind of mash-up blending with Judeo-Christian and western literary traditions. These tales are, at once, hilarious and a devastating critique of settler colonialism. The work of a master storyteller.

So, the Old Indians escape from a mental institute and with Coyote in tow begin making their way to the fictitious town, on Blackfoot Territory, of Blossom, Alberta. It seems they’ll have to fix the world…again. Often fixing the world is really about helping to fix people and the Blackfoot folks we meet in and around blossom could use a little help. Alberta Frank is a university professor who wants a baby but not a man which is bad news for her current lovers, cousins Charlie and Lionel who both want her. Lionel’s uncle Eli could use a hand as well. He’s the last man left opposing the damming of a river crucial to his people. Everything is coming to a head at the annual Sundance and with Coyote lending a paw things could go any way.”

Place a hold on it here!

Mikhaila recommends: French Exit by Patrick DeWitt.

 

I read a succession of books that were pretty heavy and so, needing something light for a break, I picked this one up on a whim. Not having previously read any of Patrick DeWitt’s other (critically acclaimed) novels, I went in not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised.
Francis Price, a famed New York socialite, finds herself and her adult son in dire straits after years of frivolity have run their resources dry. Forced out of their apartment, they sell their worldly possessions while they can and, accompanied by a cat Francis believes to embody the spirit of her long-deceased husband, flee the country via cruise ship to a friend’s apartment in Paris.

It is a bizarre story, full of a quirky cast of characters picked up along the way, including a psychic, a private detective, a doctor and his wine merchant and a hyper-active American Expat. To say the novel is drôle is to put it lightly—I say “drôle” partially because it feels like an apt word for a comedy about a fall from high-society and partially because half of the book takes place in France—there are moments where I had to put the book down to laugh. French Exit is a chaotic tale full of whimsy and sardonic wit with a surprisingly dark ending that casts a retroactive black cloud over the previous chapters.

Bonus: French Exit also just so happens to be this month’s Community Book Club read and we still have a couple of copies left.
Place a copy on hold here!

Gen recommends: I will judge you by your bookshelf by Grant Snider.

Fellow bibliophiles are you looking for a quick, lighthearted and humorous read? Well, look no further.
Grant Snider (creator of Incidental Comics and an orthodontist) perfectly illustrates to joys of reading and writing.
This is an adorable ode to book lovers and writers. As a complete and utter book nerd and lover of books, I found it wonderfully relatable.
I promise not to judge you by your bookshelf if you promise not to judge me by mine.

Place a hold on it here!

 

Emma recommends: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.

Despite Kristin Hannah’s previous two novels The Great Alone and The Nightingale being heavily borrowed titles at the Library, The Four Winds is surprisingly (to me at least!) the first Kristin Hannah book I have read.
Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the story chronicles the life of Elsa from a lonely isolated childhood in Texas, to the challenges of raising a family in the Dust Bowl era. The combination of Elsa’s personal story interwoven with the historical aspect of the harsh realities of life and the difficult decisions to be made by those living in the Great Plains during this time, made this a compelling page-turner.
Place a hold on it here!

 

Denisa recommends: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

 

This is the second book I have read by Ann Patchett and I found it to be a page-turner just as the first one I read (The Dutch House). Ann has such unique story ideas for books. I love how the author starts the story with such an alluring scene where she speaks of a kiss and then all are plunged into sudden darkness while guests shout their intense gratitude for Roxanne Coss, the opera singer who becomes a key character in the rest of the book.
Things quickly become serious as supposed terrorists take over the lavish affair. A birthday gathering for Mr. Hosokawa, a prominent businessman from Japan, becomes a confusing rush of activity and excitement.
Nearly the entire story then takes place in a South American country at a large mansion where Ruben Iglesias, the Vice President, is stationed with his family. Interesting relationships and bonds develop over the course of the book, and at the centre of these ties is the love of music.
If you are a lover of Opera this book is definitely for you.

This book was entertaining but also made me think of how deeply unjust the polarization in our world can be, when many don’t even have clean running water, shelter or the basic needs of life met.

Place it on hold here!

Brennan recommends: Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson.

 

As the final installment of the wildly popular Trickster trilogy, Return of the Trickster had a lot to live up to. A story with dozens of characters in various stages of being which spans literal universes is a tricky thing to wrap up tidily in just 300 pages. Luckily Robinson has done a superb job in the first 2 volumes building great characters and plot lines, I was fully back in the swing of the story within a chapter or so.
It’s just as well too because “Return” wastes no time chucking us right back into the fray. The book picks up moments after the end of Trickster Drift with Jared naked and beaten in the basement of his former home in Kitimat. The non-magical people in his life get the “fell off the wagon blackout” story but those who know the whole Jared know there’s a lot more than relapse threatening him. He has just found out that aside from being one of 535 children fathered by Wee’ Git the Trickster, he is the only one who is a trickster himself. All he wanted was a normal life and that’s now impossible.
On the plus side, Jared has always had a lot of people and other beings (including Chuck the snowboarding Wild Man of the Woods with a sweet place on the water in Emerald!) who love and are willing to fight for him even if it means going to war with his cannibalistic Ogress Aunt and her army of Coywolves. One of the strongest themes in the series is the inclusive idea of family or kinship. Blood isn’t necessary to be family but love and patience are. Jared will need plenty of both if he’s going to make it through this.
The only problem that I had with this book is that it had to end. It was a beautiful, strange trip that I look forward to taking again.

Place it on hold here!

Mikhaila recommends: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

 

Homegoing starts with two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, in 18th Century Ghana, at the height of the slave trade. The two sisters, one a product of rape, the other of marriage, share a mother but never meet, though they know of each other’s existence. Effia is married off to a British slave trader and remains in Ghana while Esi is kidnapped and sent on a slave ship to the United States.
Homegoing reads like two different routes with the same origin and destination, following two branches of a family tree separated by oceans and through centuries. Yaa Gyasi, born in Ghana and raised in America herself, skillfully captures the plight of the West African people during the Slave trade, while simultaneously criticizing their own involvement in the capturing and trading of their citizens. A series of vignettes, each chapter is dedicated to the story of a different descendant of either Esi or Effia, in America or Ghana, alternating back and forth, working its way through time to the present day. Esi’s family story is lost, as with the histories of many of those traded as slaves, while Effia’s, replete with tragedy of its own, remains intact, told as oral history. Each chapter of Homegoing could stand alone as a short story but come together in the book’s final pages, the two branches finally intersecting creating a quilt stitched together with recurring themes and symbols–fire, water, a stone pendant.
Loaded with tragedy and heartbreak, this is not a light read, but it’s an important one and you’ll find yourself flipping back to the family tree on the first page throughout as the stories transverse generations, the characters carrying and conquering familial trauma, and battling the indelible marks of a past they and their ancestors had no control over.
Place it on hold here!

 

Gen recommends: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner.

 

18th century London: Hidden in a dark London alley is a small apothecary, which secretly dispenses poisons to women seeking revenge on men who have betrayed them. The details of these deadly transactions are meticulously recorded in a registry hidden inside the shop. Business is steady until one client’s revenge goes wrong, and the authorities begin an investigation that could risk the lives of all those who have used the apothecary in the past.
Present-day London. While vacationing alone, Caroline finds a small vial on a mudlarking tour in the River Thames (Mudlarking is the practice of scavenging for old or valuable objects- usually on the shore of a river). Intrigued by her find and determined to take her mind off her husband’s recent betrayal, Caroline attempts to uncover the vial’s secrets.
The Lost Apothecary is the debut novel of Sarah Penner. I was first lured in by the beautiful cover but soon found it an intoxicating and engaging read. This book has it all- poison, revenge, history and magic.. I flew through it, couldn’t read it fast enough. It is empowering and uplifting (even with all the murder and betrayal!). Penner left me feeling inspired- to embrace the unknown, seize upon second chances and discover the magic of life. It is one of my favourite reads so far this year!”
Place it on hold here!

 

Emma recommends: The Push by Ashley Audrain.

“I tend to avoid books that are receiving a lot of hype and 5* reviews as I often wind up disappointed, but after a few people mentioned to me how good The Push was, I decided to check it out.

Despite me tearing through the novel over a weekend (I literally could not put it down!), this is a book that has lingered with me long after I finished the last page.

Described as a tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family–and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for–and everything she feared. Blythe Connor is determined to be the warm supportive mother she never had to her new baby girl but in the thick of those exhausting early days she doesn’t feel the connection she expected. As their relationship fails to improve, Blythe worries that something is wrong with their daughter. Is it all in her head?

The Push tells the story of the ripple effects of 3 dysfunctional generations of motherhood . There is no denying that it is at times an uncomfortable read; whether through the lens of mother or daughter, this book speaks to the many challenges of motherhood and raises questions about nature versus nurture and what it is that makes a good mother.”

Place it on hold here!

Denisa recommends: Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman.

I chose this book because I wanted an entertaining and light read. This book suited me perfectly and I read it in a day and a night.
Spanning three generations of a family it follows the hilarious life of Millie Gogarty the eldest of the family and her granddaughter Aideen Gogarty who are ironically both at a time of awkward rebellion.
Their lives are alike in that no one quite understands their particular stage of life, especially not the likes of Kevin Gogarty, a recently unemployed Dad trying to hold the family of four together whilst caring for his Mum.

It takes place in Dun Loaghaire, Dublin, a small town where gossip is the norm. When Kevin’s feisty 83-year-old Mum is caught shoplifting, he makes a couple decisions that will change all of their lives and spark quite a bit of adventure.
The characters are relatable and it’s a good reminder that all families have the roller coaster moments from love to chaos to overwhelm and back again. I really enjoyed the characters and their imperfect lovability.
A heart-warming read.

Place a hold on it here!

 

Brennan recommends: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones.

“Ricky, Lewis, Gabe and Cass, all members of the Blackfoot Tribe, childhood friends who we are introduced to as young men. It’s the final day of hunting season and the sun is on the decline. With elk nowhere to be found and the prospect of empty freezers heading into winter they decide to bend the rules. They head for the good country where only Elders are allowed to hunt. When they pop out of the truck it’s a miracle. The whole elk herd spread out below them. The fog of war descends and elk start falling. One of the elk that Lewis shoots is pregnant, she clings to life trying to protect her baby to no avail. What’s worse, before they can get out with their ill gotten gains they are busted by the Game warden and receive a 10 year hunting ban.

Fast forward 10 years. The group has drifted apart. Ricky and Lewis have left the Reserve while Gabe and Cass have stayed. Lewis was the first to go. Things just never seemed right after that fateful hunt. Now living off reserve with the woman he loves and a good job he’s put the shame of that day behind him. Until one day while fixing a light he sees a familiar elk in a familiar pose on his living room floor. By the time he gets to the bottom of the ladder she’s gone.

In the world that Jones has created in this novel the wasteful slaughter of the herd is a transgression that demands payment in blood and the elk herd are capable of collecting. The creature Jones imagines for the job is one of my all time favorite supernatural characters. Terrifying and righteous I found myself rooting for her a few times. In the end all 4 men will have to settle scores once and for all but they won’t be the only ones that get dragged along.

Place a hold on it here! 

 

Mikhaila recommends: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.

When I read this during the summer of 2019, I thought, “Wow, this could actually happen.” A pandemic originating in Georgia, quickly spreads around the globe via air travel. Though I realised the devastative prospect of the events depicted, I finished the last page of Station Eleven optimistically: if such a crisis were to arise, all would not be lost. Little did I know that this scenario would very soon become reality. There were differences, of course—the novel’s swiftness of global transmission, alarming mortality rate and resulting destruction of modern civilization, all in a matter of days—but the parallels were uncanny, at least at the beginning of our current plight.

Station Eleven follows a travelling orchestra, a roving group of actors and troubadours, as they perform Shakespeare across the bleak terrain of what once was Ontario. The narrative jumps back and forth from 5 years pre-outbreak to 20 years post, connecting a cast of characters through plays, an airport, a newspaper, a cult leader and a comic book. Though dystopian in nature, this is not your McCarthy or Atwood apocalyptic account. Station Eleven is a rosier take with prevailing themes of death and survival, of faith and fate, of civilization and, most importantly, of art. What becomes clear is the intrinsic link between art and humanity: as long as we have art we will survive, and as long as we survive we will have art.

I chose Station Eleven as the 1st read for our Community Book Club. I know some have been avoiding this book because of its relevance but I feel that it is this that makes it an important read. That and I trust that readers may finish the last page with the same glimmer of hope I did, that has helped me through the last 12 months.

Place a hold on it here!

 

Gen recommends: The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to The Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt.

You may know of the 99% invisible as a very popular architecture and design podcast. The podcast began back in 2010 as a short 4-minute radio spot in San Francisco and has grown to become one of the most popular podcasts (with over 500 million downloads!!). The book is compiled from episodes from the show and examines everyday objects that are invisible because of their everydayness, like street signs, roundabouts, revolving doors, and bench armrests that are far more interesting than they seem at first glance. The book navigates the cityscape through 125 fascinating stories in which the authors skillfully turn the everyday into the extraordinary.
“So much of the conversation about design centers on beauty, but the more fascinating stories of the built world are about problem-solving, historical constraints, and human drama.”
Whether you’re a fan of the show or it’s new to you, I highly recommend giving the book a read. The book is engaging, thoughtful and will change the way you look at your surroundings and encourage you to seek out hidden wonders in the everyday.
“You are about to see stories everywhere you beautiful nerd.”
Place a hold on it here!
PS. If you love listening to podcasts, and really want someone to discuss all the amazingness you’re listening to, you’re in luck! We have recently started a monthly podcast club at the library! You can learn more here: https://pembertonlibrary.ca/podcast-club/

Emma recommends: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

After hitting a pretty big reading slump at the beginning of 2021 I was starting to worry I wasn’t going to finish a book at all this year! Thankfully The Midnight Library by Matt Haig put an end to that!

Imagine that “Between life and death there is a library. And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be different if you had made other choices … Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

Nora Seed is struggling. She feels like she is a failure, she is alone, severely depressed, and feels that her life is no longer worth living. She finally reaches her breaking point and decides to end her life, only to find herself waking up in a space between life and death called the Midnight Library. Nora is presented with the option to undo her regrets and experience what her life would have been like if she had taken a different path. Through living a number of parallel lives had she made different choices, she learns along the way that the grass isn’t always greener and that while it is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living, “you don’t have to understand life, you just have to live it”.

This is a beautifully written book that reminds us to take stock of the simple pleasures in life and as Thoreau wrote “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”.

Place a hold on it here!

 

 

Denisa recommends: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

“This book is about a woman Margaret Lea who works in her father’s bookshop and is quite a recluse. She is asked to write a biography for the world’s most famous author Vida Winter. Part mystery and part suspense the layers of the storytelling from Margaret’s perspective as the book progresses is quite gripping. This book kept me guessing until the very end. I liked how the scenes kept me turning the pages for another revelation in the life of Vida Winter and her rather dysfunctional existence in the Angelfeild family history.

Here is a quote from the book that sums up how I feel as I finish the last page:

“Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes – characters even – caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you.”

All in all a strange storyline that kept me captivated and entertained through each chapter.”

Place a hold on The Thirteenth Tale here!

Brennan recommends NOS 4A2 by Joe Hill.

“I knew nothing about NOS4A2 or its author Joe Hill before reading it. Sure, I’d seen his books circulating fairly well through the library but to be honest I thought the vanity license plate title was a touch on the cheesy side. It did stick in my mind however and after a couple of patrons who are fans of the genre borrowed the book I thought, man, it’s been far too long since I’d read a good horror story. I literally grew up on 80’s horror flicks and Steven King novels but adulthood has caused me to drift away from scary stories. Grown-up life is scary enough maybe?

Vic McQueen is a girl from a working-class home in New England. Home isn’t always a happy place for her. Sometimes the frequent arguments between Mom and Dad end up with Dad washing blood off of his knuckles. Lucky for her when she needs to get away she’s got a sweet Raleigh Tuff Burner BMX that can really fly. Or I should say travel. The combination of bike, girl, and need can create a gateway, a dilapidated covered wooden bridge, which takes Vic exactly where she needs to be to find lost things. A hundred-foot ride through the bridge can drop her halfway across the country. The trips exact a large toll on Vic both physically and mentally.

One day after a particularly nasty scene at home Vic goes looking for trouble and on the Tuff Burner, she always finds what she’s looking for. And then some. Charles Manx is a monster that has been feeding off the essence of children for a long time. It keeps him young. He’s got help too. A series of henchman/minions over the years and a partner, His 1930’s Rolls Royce Wraith. Think an evil version of KIT from Knight Rider. Together they have evaded capture so long because, like Vic, they travel on secret roads. Those roads lead to Christmasland, a place where every day is Christmas. A kid’s dream come true. You can ask any of kids that Manx has brought there over the years. But they don’t seem so much like kids and what they’re doing doesn’t really seem like fun.

When Vic rolls through the bridge and winds up at Charlie’s house things really kick-off. Charlie winds up in prison where the separation from his rollls and energy source leaves him in a coma and Vic in a marriage, with a son of her own, that she can’t hold together. Years of burying the truth in her mind have taken their toll on her and it seems that she’s lost it all. But when Charlie walks out of a morgue and hits the road again, she’ll experience loss like she never knew. With Manx on the road to Christmasland with Vic’s own son as a passenger, Vic will need to remember how to find things again. All she needs is a sweet bike.”

Place a hold on NOS 4A2 here!

Mikhaila recommends: Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton.

“In honour of her 75th birthday, the book I’ve chosen as my first staff pick (Hi, I’m Mikhaila!), is “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics” by none other than the queen herself.
Dolly definitely seems to be having a moment, but that being said, when examining her six-and-a-half decade long career, you would be hard-pressed to find a time when she was not having a moment.
Take a deep dive into the meaning behind the lyrics of some of her most recognizable songs while perusing never-before-seen photographs. The book starts with the first song she ever penned, at the age of six—a catchier ditty than I could compose today, at nearly half her current age—and wraps up with some of her most recent releases, each one accompanied by an anecdote from her fascinating life. Though Dolly’s career has been famously built around reminiscing about her own past, whether you’re a country fan or not (I’m not), it’s hard not to feel a connection to her beautifully crafted lyrics, as if she is actually writing about you.

This. Book. Has. It. All.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel your heart grow two sizes. Dolly Parton’s is a real rags-to-riches story, brought together with her obvious intelligence and distinct sense of humour about herself and life, proving she’s a lot more than simply bosom and bouffant.”

Place a hold on Songteller: my life in lyrics here!

 

 

Gen recommends: The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll.

 

“Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal, explores what it means to live an intentional life, one that’s both productive and meaningful. Whether you’re a frustrated list maker, an overwhelmed multitasker, or a creative who needs some structure, You’ll not only learn to organize your tasks, but to focus your time and energy in pursuit of what’s truly meaningful to you.”

I started bullet journaling a few years ago when I couldn’t find a yearly planner that met my needs. I was working multiple jobs, struggling to stay organised, and balance my time. I looked at apps online but already felt that I was spending too much time on my phone and didn’t need another excuse to pick it up. Ryder’s book is an excellent read for both beginners and seasoned bullet journalers; it starts by outlining how-to bullet journal and then moves onto the why.

While I’ve diverged a little from Ryder’s methods favoring a more artistic direction, many of his systems are still present in my journals and, I’ve found them to be incredibly helpful. I really enjoy the creative side of journalling, and as I stationary lover, I love any excuse to buy more pretty stationary!

Place a hold on The Bullet Journal Method here! 

 

Emma recommends: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.

“Backman’s books have featured heavily on our staff picks shelves over the years and despite all of his books being on my ever-increasing to-read pile, his latest novel is the first that I have actually gotten around to reading.

Described as “a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.” I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first picked it up, but I quickly fell in love with Backman’s dry wit and I couldn’t put it down. I will definitely be reading more by him in the future!”

Place a hold on Anxious People here!

 

Denisa recommends: Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern.

I am usually reading non-fiction but sometimes crave a fiction to balance things out on occasion. Lyrebird was an entertaining read based on a woman who lives alone in the rugged mountains of Ireland and has a talent like no other. It reminded me of the stillness and calm that exists in nature and the ways that the chaos of life can so easily pull us away from that and our own peacefulness inside. The story of Laura is unique and kept me guessing as the chapters progressed, would she stay true to herself? If you are in the mood for a bit of a strange story than this is the book for you.

Place a hold on Lyrebird here!

 

Brennan recommends: The Best of Chief Dan George by Chief Dan George and Helmut Hirnschall and Little Big Man.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the good fortune to represent the library in our partnership with The Wellness Almanac to co-host a sharing circle led by the incredible Tanina Williams. Envisioned as a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to talk about building a better relationship on this unceded territory. It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve learned so much that I should have known long ago.

One such thing is the amazing life and work of Geswanouth Slahoot, better known as Chief Dan George. Born in 1899, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation of the Burrard Inlet, Chief Dan witnessed many changes for his people in the 82 years he walked the earth. Pretty terrible changes. After a childhood spent in residential school, he tried his hand as a bus driver, construction worker, traveling musician, longshoreman, and of course Band Chief and all the while he was writing, singing, creating, and thinking about ways the land could be shared to the benefits of all the beings that inhabit it.
At age 60 Chief Dan embarked on a new career. In 1960 he was cast for a role in the CBC series Cariboo Country and with no formal training, his natural and instinctive acting got him noticed. The parts began to roll in and eventually, he was cast as Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man. The film bucked the tropes of the American western by portraying the military in a realistic (unflattering) light and showing the “Indians” as nuanced human beings. Chief Dan’s Old Lodge Skins was so natural, funny, and believable that he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
After that role, he never lacked for acting work but his greatest achievement is the work he did advocate for the rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples and the land. Many of his poems are collected in The Best of Chief Dan George. I opened the book and didn’t set it down until it was finished. It’s beautiful. Many pieces are uplifting while many reflect despair. I wonder how Chief Dan would feel about the current moment?
I’ve barely scratched the surface here. I encourage you to learn more about this amazing man. He’s my new answer to the old “who would you have dinner with?” game.
Place a hold on the Best of Chief Dan George here!
Place a hold on Little Big Man here!

Brennan recommends: Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson.

“We are introduced to our narrator, 20-year-old Lisamarie Hill while she is in a fog of chain smoking, coffee chugging grief. The fishing boat her younger brother was working on is missing and so is he. Her shattered parents are flying out to be closer to the search leaving Lisamarie at home with her Auntie, her smokes and her ghosts.

The story is centered around Kitimat Village, the ancestral lands of the Haisla people (and author). The Hills are Haisla and through Lisa’s memories we watch her grow. We see how the layers of trauma wrought by colonization can break families apart but also the power of tradition and love to bring them back together.Her immediate family (Mom, Dad, Brother) mostly live a modern, 9 to 5 life but Lisa is drawn to the older ways and gravitates to her Grandma and Uncle who are more connected to them.

We soon realize Lisa has a connection to more than just the land. She is connected the creatures and spirits that most can never see. Some want to help others want to feed. Some exist in the flesh others the spirit realm although the line between is blurred if it ever existed. The tapestry of Lisa’s memories holds pieces to a puzzle that might lead her to her brother if she can put them together in time.

Monkey Beach is the book that launched Eden Robinson into the world of CanLit royalty and her place is well deserved. This is a sad and beautiful story from my new favorite author. let me know what you think.”

Place a hold on it here!

 

Emma recommends: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel.

“There is definitely no shortage of WW2 historical fiction novels featuring strong female characters around right now (but apparently a total shortage of ideas for cover designs given how similar they all look). So what, you may ask, made me pick this one up over any of the other many books in this genre right now – you got it – books and libraries are prominent features in the storyline 😬😬. Anyone who follows our staff picks knows I am a sucker for books about books, libraries, bookstores, etc. so mix in some historical fiction, and I am in!

Kristin Harmel’s The Book of Lost Names is inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II of a young woman with a talent for forgery who helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis, across the border from France to Switzerland. If now was ever a time you needed a story of bravery and resilience, and how to find moments of joy in times of hardship, this is a great choice!

Perfect for fans of The Alice Network and anyone with an interest in WW2 historical fiction.”

Place a hold on it here!

 

Gen recommends: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab.

“France, 1714, on the day of her arranged wedding to a man she barely knows, Addie LaRue desperately begs the gods for a life of freedom. As darkness falls, the devil answers her call and a deal is struck. Addie wins her freedom but at the cost of being forgotten by everyone she meets.

Over the next 300 years, Addie travels the globe. She lives through World Wars, inspiring great artists and witnessing incredible events. But Addie wanders the earth alone only visited on the anniversary of the deal by Luc(icfer) ready to take her soul. Until one day, she meets a bookseller named Henry who remembers her. Addie and Henry fall quickly in love, but Luc wants Addie all for himself, and can you ever win against the devil?

The invisible life of Addie LaRue is a tale of two star-crossed lovers that drew me in deeper with every page. While this story may not be as action-packed as some of V.E Schwab’s previous novels, it is written beautifully. As they say ‘the devil is in the details’ and to me, it’s those beautiful & intricate details that make this one a wonderful read!”

Place a hold on it here!

 

Brennan recommends: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

“Eden Robinson’s 2017 novel “Son of a Trickster” has us following the trials and tribulations of high school student Jared Martin. Jared smokes and drinks too much and supplements his paper route income by selling pot cookies to his classmates but don’t get it twisted, Jared is a good kid. A good kid in a really bad situation.Jared is an indigenous kid in Kitimat, once a boom town now in its bust phase since the mill shut down. His parents are divorced and neither can really provide the stability that Jared needs. Jared often needs to be the grown up for his parents. He lives with his Mom Maggie, her drug dealer boyfriend Ritchie and a rotating cast of boarders that almost keep the bills paid. Maggie has all the habits. Booze, drugs, smokes and worst of all a hair trigger temper. Her love for Jared is hard, fierce and protective but never in doubt.

High school is rough and nobody makes it through unscathed . Jared has one thing going for him though, his fame as the “Cookie Guy” makes him popular for as long as the cookies last. Between his “popularity” and the endless party that surrounds his Mom and Ritchie it’s actually harder to avoid the party than join it. Not that he needs his arm twisted.

From here on out things get pretty hairy and I don’t want to give too much detail and spoil the surprise. Let’s just say that the parallel worlds really start to overlap bringing all sorts of interesting beings into Jared’s life. Some terrifying, some just annoying and some with murderous intent. Jared gets help from those he doesn’t expect much from and is abandoned by some who he does. He also gets some truth about his family.”

Place a hold on it here!

 

Emma recommends: The Shadows by Alex North.

“The Shadows is the second novel by British author Alex North – for those of you regularly following our staff picks, you may remember his first novel was without a doubt one of my favourite reads last year ….so I couldn’t wait to read this… and it didn’t disappoint!

“You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree-and his victim-were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and suffering from dementia, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Paul learns that Detective Amanda Beck is investigating another copycat that has struck in the nearby town of Featherbank. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder. It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…”

Infuriatingly, North writes under a pseudonym and it’s proving to be a much better kept secret than the time emerging author Robert Galbraith turned out to be none other than J K Rowling. North’s first two novels have been so good that I just want to read more by him, but alas my librarian sleuthing skills have failed me so far! If you are looking for a creepy thriller with good twists, then look no further!”

Place a hold on it here!

 

Gen recommends: A Burning by Megha Majumdar.

“A Burning is set in modern-day India and is narrated by three characters: Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to improve her station in life. Lovely, a streetwise hijra who dreams of becoming a movie star, and PT Sir, Jivan’s former P.E teacher.

One evening Jivan witnesses a terrorist attack at a railway station close to her home that kills over a hundred people. Social media blows up with news clips of the firebombing, pleas for donations, and demands for justice.
As Jivan scrolls through Facebook, she watches a video of a woman who lost her husband in the attack, while a group of policemen stood idly by. Incensed, Jivan shares the video, and when her post doesn’t gain the attention she hoped, she impulsively adds a provocative comment on her post. A few days later, Jivan is woken in the early hours by a policewoman and is arrested, accused of helping execute the terrorist attack.

Jivan’s ensuing trial tests the bonds of friendship and morality. Both Lovely and PT Sir have the opportunity to help Jivan but doing so means letting go of the things they most desire.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! A burning does tackle some heavy subject matter but I found Majumdar’s characters add some humor that offsets much of the darkness and brings a sense of warmth to the story. The characters are wonderfully compelling, and it is a storyline that doesn’t seem far fetched at all.

Highly recommended for those that enjoy reading Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri.”

Place a hold on it here!