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Showing posts from June, 2014

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Emma Healey’s debut novel Elizabeth Is Missing is garnering a lot of attention. The page-turning mystery, with an honest portrayal of love and memory, takes us from post-war Britain to the present day through the eyes of Maud.
Beautifully written with an authentic voice, you’d almost expect it to be created by someone of a certain age and experience; but you’d be as pleasantly surprised as I was when I met Emma Healey for lunch in Toronto. Thanks to Random House Canada for hosing this intimate luncheon. I was on top of the world: after all, I got to sit right next to the author during lunch as we discussed the nuances of language. You say “to-mah-to” I say “to-may-to”, but we all say “wow” to Elizabeth Is Missing.
Down-to-earth, approachable, and young -- how someone with the exuberance of youth was able to tap into the voice of an aging grandmother slowly losing her memory and her grip on everyday life is anyone’s guess. Yet, Emma Healey succeeded!
Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s t…

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever

It’s a mouthful, but the title is indeed a mind-bending inquisitive instigator, if not provocative. After all, when satirist David Eggers has a new book out, you know the world is paying attention. After the success of The Circle, David Eggers foray into dystopia, he takes another stab at
“Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever” is entirely written in dialogue; the book’s protagonist is a serial kidnapper, who is trying to find clarity and fill in the blanks to the unfairness in his life. It’s unclear at first what the purpose of the kidnappings are and how they are linked. Without a background for the seemingly preposterous events at an abandoned base in Fort Ord, the one-on-one conversations slowly but deliberately uncover the reasons.
The book is engaging despite its minimalistic plot line, and if anything it makes for a magnetic discussion. It is naked and raw, yet thought provoking in its delivery. The in-your-face format holds just the right amount …

The Bird Box by Josh Mallerman

How does a mother act and react in a brave new world where seeing is simply not an option? Josh Malerman explores this possibility in Bird Box where parallel story lines told concurrently --one post apocalyptic the other happening as civilization's fragility comes apart-- provide a glimpse into protagonist Malorie thinking about meeting challenges in a life that no one, not least of all a single mother, is prepared for.

There will be inevitable comparison's to Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Alfred Hitcock's The Birds. These would be misleading.

Even similarities to Lovecraftian horror, specifically the "Creatures" of Bird Box whose direct encounters leads humanity to the self immolating insanity induced death, is fleeting.

Malerman's storytelling is at times languid in relating to the visceral and at other times reflective in relating to the elegiac. Despite the deliberately mixed nature it is a hard to put down and easy to read page turner that is well suit…

Books for Children and Preteens

Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn by Greg Leitich Smith One of my faves in the lot, Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn is a story of two boys, beach vacations, UFO sittings and maybe even an alien encounter at an aging cocoa beach motel. Aiden’s parents own the inn and he works there. His best friend Louis is obsessed with alien encounters and swears he saw one a few years ago. But Aiden remains sceptical. But when they suddenly discover an UFO over the motel one night, Aiden begins to realize that Louis may not be crazy after all, and some of the residents of the Mercury Inn may be acting a tad bid unusual. Could they have proof of a real-life government UFO cover-up? 
Ages 9-12
Roaring Brook Press
4/5 Sukasa Stars

Fish Finelli by Erica Farber When Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish's 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce's new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepowe…

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

What would you do if you were estranged from your homeland, and forced to make a new country your home?
You’d hang on dearly to what you knew, and embrace the new!
Cristina Henríquez new book, The Book of Unknown Americans is a brutally honest novel, that highlights the resilience of the human spirit.
Cited as a dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status, The Book of Unknown Americans primarily revolved around a story of a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families.
Major’s family came to a small town in Delaware because of the fighting in their own hometown. Burnt-out cars, the rubble of buildings, charred palm trees along the sides of the road; when they left, it looked like a completely different place.
But the Panamá that his parents want to hold on to smells of sweet fruit and dogs barking in the alley. This is home! And, a place can do many things against you, but if it’s your home or was your home at one …

The SoBo Cookbook by Lisa Ahier

From the award-winning restaurant, SoBo, comes a cookbook that celebrates the best in West Coast cuisine, and showcases the beauty of the remote, magnetic town of Tofino, British Columbia.
Lynn Crawford (chef/owner of Ruby Watchco) calls SoBo one of her favourite places to visit and cook. 
Vikram Vij (author and chef) calls the book an inspiration.

SOBO started out in 2003 as a purple food truck in the parking lot behind a surf shop, way before food trucks were cool. Despite its remoteness, it attracted rave reviews from media across Canada and the U.S., with Saveur magazine calling it "perhaps the most exciting lunch in North America". 

SOBO, now a destination restaurant on the west coast of Vancouver Island, focuses on locally sourced, seasonally inspired ingredients from family-owned producers. Those producers are profiled throughout the book, as is the town of Tofino itself, to give a true sense of how it takes a village to create a restaurant success like SoBo.

Try the SoBo …

Books Dad will love for Father's Day

1. The Full Ridiculous

A hilarious, compelling novel about love, family and the precarious business of being a man. 

2. 149 Paintings You Have To See In Europe

Did you know the Guernica was done in only four weeks? It was Picasso's contribution to the Republican cause and paid for the government. Travelling can be fun, but travelling on a time schedule makes things difficult to plan. Perfect for Dad planning on a lifetime of travel. 

3. The Martian

It’s been touted as Apollo 13 meets Cast Away because of it’s gripping detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars. And, it doesn’t disappoint. Engineered with exhaustive details, yet humanly down-to-earth, Andy Weir’s The Martian is a book for the space geek whose heart palpitates at the mere mention of space travel. 

4. The Time Traveller's Almanac 

Travel through the past century and a half. Starting from the nascent beginning of genre itself, in a way this book can be seen as a cultural a…

The Full Ridiculous by Mark Lamprell

The title says it all. And it can happen to anyone.
One regular day, for one regular guy, turns into a rollercoaster of ridiculousness. Michael O’Dell is hit by a car. He’s pleased that he’s survived, but this event creates skid marks that reverberate through the rest of his life.

His book deal seems to be falling throughHis finds drugs hidden in a pencil case in his son’s roomHis daughter is in trouble for punching a vindictive schoolmateA forty-something year old constable seems to have a vendetta “ A surge of panic dries your mouth…You look into the frosty blackness of the freshly glazed kitchen window, fully expecting a monster to lunge at you. Instead a terrible secret flashes its ugly truth once again: The good part of your life is over. The bad part has begun.” Mark Lamprell tells a story of an everyday man trapped in a web of entanglement. But despite this story of seeming doom and gloom, he manages to turn it into a fabulous dark humour story, one that is both serious and also …

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

Mazel Tov Chani!
Yes, nineteen-year-old Chani Kaufman is about to get married to Baruch (a man she barely knows, who is only a year older than herself). Naturally, she has questions. Many questions. What will Baruch be like as a husband? What will her wedding night be like? How many kids will she have? Oh dear, she doesn’t think she’s ready for kids just yet.
Will Chani, who has a streak of rebelliousness in her, succumb to these traditional norms? Will she get along with her mother-in-law who has made it clear that Chani is not her ideal choice for her son?
But, Baruch has chosen her – despite his parents’ wishes – and Chani feels a certain warmth for him. So now her entire house is elated; feet stomping in celebration, carpet’s pounding, and the older women are ululated, their throats thrilling their happiness. Blessings ring out from different corners of the room. The traditional ultra-orthodox Jewish ceremony is underway.
When all the Shabbes is complete, Shani is ordered to sit on…

The Time Traveller's Almanac

Let's time travel. Right now. Are you ready?
Travel through the past century and a half with The Time Traveller's Almanac. Starting from the nascent beginning of genre itself, in a way this book can be seen as a cultural almanac. Charting how we've used this infinitely malleable tool of time travel to engage with the changing landscape around us is a tempting method for mapping our recent history.
The stories in this edition are classics. Great stories by great storytellers. From Well's The Time Machine to Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder, this book edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, give you all the beloved stories in one book. It's a nice feeling to be able to go back in time and experience these stories again for the first time.
The book is by far the most definitive collection of time stories that I have ever come across. It's a treasure of stories all in one great volume, a reference book to proudly display in your library.


Snap decision: You only live once

Bridie Clark’s new novel is about a young girl who’s thrown into a prestigious prep school in New Hampshire hills. She’s trying to fit in, with all the glitzy clothes and sweet sixteen parties, but she doesn’t come from money like the rest of her friends do. So, if she's going to keep up with them, she has to find a job, fast.
But, when she takes a babysitting job in town she is faced with making choices. Should she date her friend’s ex-boyfriend who she has a crush on? Should she accept the advances from the flirtatious Dad (who apparently is "cute" and his wife seems like a miserable person)?
"Snap Decision" means that the reader is actually calling the shots. After all, this is a “decide on your own ending” kind of book.
You are most likely to …-> take a pass. Dating your best friend’s ex is always out of bounds…especially when your intuition tells you she still harbors feelings for him. Continue to Snapshot #11 (page…)
-> ask for Annabel’s blessing. Can…