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    Book Club in a Bag

    All Things Royal

    by Suzen - 2 Comment(s)

    When I was a kid, we would have to sing “God Save the Queen” every morning; along with “O Canada” and the first and last verses of the “Ode to Newfoundland” (we were a very choral and nationalistic bunch). There was a large portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the main foyer of the school and she’d peer down at us with those matronly royal blue eyes as if she was actually watching everything we did. There was a time when I had myself convinced her eyes actually followed me around the room, like one of those paintings on the walls of a haunted house. She was always watching…

    As Elizabeth II celebrates her 60th year of reign this month, I don’t feel like I should send her a card but I do find myself thinking about all the historical fiction I read that are set in within the varying eras of royal life in Britain. From Tudor England to the Victorian Age, the royal families are steeped in betrayals, secrets, lies and unceasingly complicated plot twists. And the best historical novels, while grounded in fact, take liberties to expose the human side of those famous historical figures.

    So, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, I present to the court the following list of royally inspired novels. May you read them with a hot cup of tea and a stately sense of self!

    The Queen of Last HopesThe Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham

    Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, does not want immortality. She does not need glory. All she desires is what rightfully belongs to her family – and that is the throne of England. Her husband the king cannot rule, but the enemies who doubt her will and dispute her valor underestimate the force of a mother’s love. Her son is the House of Lancaster’s heir and last hope, and her fight for him will shake the crown forever. (Back cover)

    The Flaw in the BloodA Flaw in the Blood: a novel of suspense by Stephanie Barron

    Windsor Castle, 1861. For the second time in over twenty years, Irish barrister Patrick Fitzgerald has been summoned by the Queen. The first time, he'd been a zealous young legal clerk, investigating what appeared to be a murderous conspiracy against her. Now he is a distinguished gentleman at the top of his profession. And the Queen is a woman in the grip of fear. For on this chilly night, her beloved husband, Prince Albert, lies dying. With her future clouded by grief, Fitzgerald can't help but notice the Queen is curiously preoccupied with the past. Yet why, and how he can help, is unclear. His bewilderment deepens when the royal coach is violently overturned, nearly killing him and his brilliant young ward, Dr. Georgiana Armistead, niece of the late Dr. Snow, a famed physician who'd attended none other than Her Majesty. Fitzgerald is sure of one thing: the Queen's carriage was not attacked at random--it was a carefully chosen target. But was it because he rode in it? Fitzgerald won't risk dying in order to find out. He'll leave London and take Georgiana with him--if they can get out alive. For soon the pair find themselves hunted. Little do they know they each carry within their past hidden clues to a devastating royal they must untangle if they are to survive. From the streets of London to the lush hills of Cannes, from the slums of St. Giles to the gilded halls of Windsor Castle, A Flaw in the Blood delivers a fascinating tale of pursuit, and the artful blend of period detail and electrifying intrigue that only the remarkable Stephanie Barron can devise. (Syndetics)

    The Bones of AvalonThe Bones of Avalon: being edited from the most private documents of Dr John Dee, astrologer and consultant to Queen Elizabeth by Phillip Rickman

    A country divided. A newly crowned, desperately vulnerable young queen. Can one man uncover the secret that will save her throne? It is 1560, and Elizabeth Tudor has been on the throne for a year. Dr. John Dee, at 32 already acclaimed throughout Europe, is her astrologer and consultant in the hidden arts... a controversial appointment in these days of superstition and religious strife. When dangerous questions of Elizabeth's legitimacy arise, the mild, bookish Dee finds himself summoned before William Cecil, who tasks him with an important mission. Along with Robert Dudley, Dee's daring friend and former student who is also rumored to be the Queen's secret lover, Dee must travel to the famously mystical town of Glastonbury to find the missing bones of King Arthur. Once these long-lost relics, the embodiment of a legacy vitally important to the Tudor line, are ensconced in London, doubts as to the Queen's supremacy as the rightful Tudor heir will be dispelled. But the quest quickly turns deadly--Dee and Dudley arrive in Glastonbury to discover the town mourning the gruesome execution of its abbot, and more death soon follows at the old abbey. Racing to uncover the secrets buried there, Dee finds himself caught in the tangled roots of English magic, unexpected violence, the breathless stirring of first love... and the cold heart of a complex plot against Elizabeth. (Syndetics)

    The Uncommon ReaderThe Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

    Briskly original and subversively funny, this novella from popular British writer Bennett (Untold Stories; Tony-winning play The History Boys) sends Queen Elizabeth II into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and into the reflective, observant life of an avid reader. Guided by Norman, a former kitchen boy and enthusiast of gay authors, the queen gradually loses interest in her endless succession of official duties and learns the pleasure of such a "common" activity. With "the dawn of her sensibility... mistaken for the onset of senility," plots are hatched by the prime minister and the queen's staff to dispatch Norman and discourage the queen's preoccupation with books. Ultimately, it is her own growing self-awareness that leads her away from reading and toward writing, with astonishing results. Bennett has fun with the proper behavior and protocol at the palace, and the few instances of mild coarseness seem almost scandalous. There are lessons packed in here, but Bennett doesn't wallop readers with them. It's a fun little book. (Publisher’s Weekly Review)

    Spring is in the air

    by Suzen - 0 Comment(s)

    I don’t know how it happened but this winter I accumulated so many books you’d swear I was trying to insulate my house with adult fiction. Faced with the reality that there is no way I can read 50 books in a three week period, I have to weed my pile of great reads. So, in the throes of spring cleaning, I am airing out the “To Read” pile that keeps growing on my bookshelf to leave room for fresh, new-to-me reads that take me out of my literary comfort zone. Spring is all about fresh beginnings, after all…

    Thematically linked by their titles and not necessarily by content, here are a few great reads that made it through my rigorous spring clean. Who knows, maybe they’ll find a home on your “To Read” shelf, too!

    little bird by camilla way Little Bird by Camilla Way

    Three identities, no known name - and an obsessed pursuer from the past. Elodie grew up in the forest in France without speech. Snatched at the age of three by a troubled mute man, all she learns is bird song. When she is found as a teenager, the media frenzy brings ‘Little Bird' to a famous American linguist. So Elodie grows up in another country, with a new identity in a household sometimes more hostile than the forest she left. When violence strikes, Elodie flees again, to London. She is determined to put the past behind her and lead a normal life. But what happens if someone from her past won't let her go? What happens if someone falls in love with her? Little Bird is an extraordinary rich, wholly absorbing, psychological novel about identity, language and love.

    creationCreation: a novel by Katherine Govier

    In mesmerizing prose, novelist Katherine Govier explores this fateful summer in the life of a man as untamed as his subjects. Running two steps ahead of the bailiff, alternately praised and reviled by critics, John James Audubon set himself the audacious task of drawing, from nature, every bird in North America. The result was his masterpiece, The Birds of America, which he and his family published and sold to subscribers on both sides of the Atlantic. In June 1833, he enlisted his son and a party of young gentlemen to set sail for nesting grounds no ornithologist had ever seen, in the treacherous passage between Newfoundland and Labrador. Fogbound at Little Natashquan, he encounters Captain Henry Wolsey Bayfield of the Royal Navy, whose mission is to chart the labyrinthine coast to make it safe for sea traffic. Bayfield is an exacting and duty-bound aristocrat; the charismatic Audubon spins tales to disguise his dubious parentage and lack of training. Bayfield is a confirmed bachelor; Audubon is a married man in love with his young assistant. But the captain becomes the artist's foil and his measuring stick, his judge and, oddly, the recipient of his long-held secrets. In this atmospheric and enthralling novel, Katherine Govier recreates the summer in which "the world's greatest living bird artist" finally understood the paradox embedded in his art: that the act of creation was also an act of destruction.

    spring Spring by David Szalay

    James is a man with a checkered past – sporadic entrepreneur, one-time film producer, almost a dot-com millionaire – now alone in a flat in Bloomsbury, running a shady horse-racing tips operation. Katherine is a manager at a luxury hotel, a job she’d intended to leave years ago, and is separated from her husband. In 2006, at the end of the money-for-nothing years, their chance meeting leads to an awkward tryst, and James tries to make sense of a relationship where “no” means “maybe” and a “yes” can never be taken for granted. (Summary from back cover)

    birds in fall Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler

    One fall night off the coast of a remote island in Nova Scotia, an airplane plummets to the sea as an innkeeper watches from the shore. Miles away in New York City, ornithologist Ana Gathreaux works in a darkened room full of sparrows, testing their migratory instincts. Soon, Ana will be bound for Trachis Island, along with other relatives of victims who converge on the site of the tragedy. As the search for survivors envelops the island, the mourning families gather at the inn, waiting for news of those they have lost. Here among strangers, and watched over by innkeeper Kevin Gearns, they form an unusual community, struggling for comfort and consolation. A Taiwanese couple sets out fruit for their daughter's ghost. A Bulgarian man plays piano in the dark, sending the music to his lost wife, a cellist. Two Dutch teenagers, a brother and sister, rage against their parents' death. An Iranian exile, mourning his niece, recites the Persian tales that carry the wisdom of centuries. At the center of Birds in Fall lies Ana Gathreaux, whose story Brad Kessler tells with deep compassion: from her days in the field with her husband, observing and banding migratory birds, to her enduring grief and gradual reengagement with life. Kessler's knowledge of the natural world, music, and myth enriches every page of this hauntingly beautiful and moving novel about solitude, love, losing your way, and finding something like home.

    To boldly go....

    by Suzen - 0 Comment(s)

    Wario at Calgary Public Library!

    Last weekend was pretty exciting for all the self-proclaimed nerds in the city: it was the 2012 return of Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo! This was the biggest year yet, including the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, cameos by James Marsters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame and those Weasely twins from the Harry Potter movies. Along with a team of likeminded nerds, I attended the Comic Expo as a representative of Calgary Public Library where we showcased the great collections of sci-fi, horror, fantasy and graphic novels available in our catalogue. We got to meet hundreds of convention goers, most in elaborate costumes and super committed to the characters they were portraying – like Wario, Mario’s evil counterpart, who we managed to photograph at the Calgary Public Library table!

    I was super inspired after this comic-book fueled sci-fi weekend that I thought I’d pull together a list of great reads that showcase our collection. If you’re at all interested in exploring our sci-fi/fantasy, horror and graphic novel collection, hopefully this list will get you started!

    Aurorama a novel

    Aurorama: a novel by Jean-Christoph Valtat

    A startling, seductive literary novel that entwines suspense, science fiction, adventure, romance and history into an intoxicating new genre. 1908: New Venice--"the pearl of the Arctic"--a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate carriage-sleds and elegant victorian garb, of long nights and vistas of ice. But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qaartsiluni , "the time when something is about to explode in the dark." Local "poletics" are wracked by tensions with the Eskimos circling the city, with suffragette riots led by an underground music star, with drug round-ups by the secret police force known as the Gentlemen of the Night. An ominous black airship hovers over the city, and the Gentlemen are hunting for the author of a radical pamphlet calling for revolt. Their lead suspect is Brentford Orsini, one of the city's most prominent figures. But as the Gentlemen of the Night tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a mysterious message from a long-lost love that compels him to act. What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you've ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer. (Syndetics )

    house of doors

    House of Doors by Chaz Brenchley

    The first in Chaz Brenchley's chilling new haunted house series - War widow Ruth Taylor arrives at RAF Morwood, the great house formerly known as D'Esperance, hoping that nursing badly wounded airmen will distract her from her sorrows. But almost as soon as she enters the house, she experiences strange visions and fainting spells, and the almost overwhelming sensation of her late husband's ghostly presence. For D'Esperance is a place of shadows and secrets -- and as the strange occurrences become increasingly menacing and violent, Ruth is forced to confront a terrible possibility: that her dead husband might be the cause... (Syndetics)

    night of the living trekkies

    Night of the living trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

    Journey to the final frontier of sci-fi zombie horror! Jim Pike was the world's biggest Star Trek fan-until two tours of duty in Afghanistan destroyed his faith in the human race. Now he sleepwalks through life as the assistant manager of a small hotel in downtown Houston. But when hundreds of Trekkies arrive in his lobby for a science-fiction convention, Jim finds himself surrounded by costumed Klingons, Vulcans, and Ferengi-plus a strange virus that transforms its carriers into savage, flesh-eating zombies! As bloody corpses stumble to life and the planet teeters on the brink of total apocalypse, Jim must deliver a ragtag crew of fanboys and fangirls to safety. Dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers, their prime directive is to survive. But how long can they last in the ultimate no-win scenario? (Syndetics)

    the death-ray

    The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes

    Teen outcast Andy is an orphaned nobody with only one friend, the obnoxious - but loyal - Louie. They roam school halls and city streets, invisible to everyone but bullies and tormentors, until the glorious day when Andy takes his first puff on a cigarette. That night he wakes, heart pounding, soaked in sweat, and finds himself suddenly overcome with the peculiar notion that he can do anything. Indeed, he can, and as he learns the extent of his new powers, he discovers a terrible and seductive gadget - a hideous compliment to his seething rage - that forever changes everything. The Death-Ray utilizes the classic staples of the superhero genre - origin, costume, ray gun, sidekick, fight scene - and reconfigures them in a story that is anything but morally simplistic. With subtle comedy, deft mastery, and an obvious affection for the bold pop-art exuberance of comic book design, Daniel Clowes delivers a contemporary meditation on the darkness of the human psyche. (Syndetics)

    Want more?

    For more great reads, head on over to the Readers' Nook homepage and subscribe to our NextReads monthly and bi-monthly newsletters, including genres like Fantasy/Sci-Fi and Horror. These newsletters let you in on what's new in our collection and give you bunch of suggested reads as well.

    Did The Hunger Games leave you a bit peckish?

    by Suzen - 0 Comment(s)

    America Pacifica by Anna NorthSo I’ve been on this pretty major dystopian fiction kick. It’s an on-going theme – storylines beginning in the not too distant future when the environment has crumbled under the weight of humankind, the government has become a totalitarian regime and the protagonists are hell-bent on revolution. My recent obsession started with The Hunger Games, a wildly popular trilogy by YA author Suzanne Collins that’s presently being developed into a series of huge blockbuster films. I devoured (ha, ha) the books in a matter of days and became so invested in the characters’ fight for survival that I felt a little lost when the story ended. Immediately, I began scavenging for more books within the genre and found America Pacifica, the debut novel from author Anna North.

    America Pacifica is one of many in a genre of dystopian futures. In this book, North introduces us to Darcy, a young woman who lives in the grim replica of North America located on a small island in the South Pacific Ocean called “America Pacifica”. Overcrowded and divided by the unequal distribution of wealth, the island is dissolving into the sea from toxic pollution and on the verge of civil war. Our heroine, Darcy, works as a cook and nurse’s aide at World Experiences, a retirement residence for the island’s first inhabitants, and is completely ambivalent to the problems of the island. That is, until her mother disappears and Darcy’s safe and private world is thrown into a tailspin.

    The novel follows Darcy’s desperate search for her mother through the island’s most troubled districts where she is acutely suspicious of everyone she meets. The small world she had come to know as a child dangerously expands to include mute nuns with talking parrots, circus folk with missing limbs, bug-eyed solvent addicts and rich kids with too much free time. There are very few acts of kindness in this world and Darcy quickly learns that everything comes at a severe emotional, financial and physical cost. As the secrets of her mother’s past and disappearance come to light, Darcy finds herself the unwitting heroine of a revolution set to overturn everything she has ever known.

    Like The Hunger Games, this book shares a similar character-driven storyline set in a future not terribly far off from our own, where the struggle for freedom is a matter of life or death and survival tests our most vulnerable of human virtues. America Pacifica is a fast-paced and a very quick read, and if you can forgive the author’s often long-winded use of dialogue, this novel is a great compliment to other dystopian reads. While some readers may think the genre a bit morbid, I’ve always appreciated the perspective it gives to our current political, social and environmental climate. If things are bad now, how much worse could it get? While America Pacifica does take a fantastical approach to the imagined fate of North America, at its core I found myself relating to Darcy and her plight, contemplating how I would respond in similar situations. Would I run or would I stay and fight?

    I would recommend this book to anyone fascinated by the end of the world. If you enjoyed similar titles such as The Hunger Games, A Handmaid’s Tale or 1984, you’ll definitely quench your dystopian appetite with America Pacifica.

    Similar titles:

    When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

    Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

    Children of Men by PD James

    What Were YOUR Favourite Books from 2011?

    by Shannon S - 5 Comment(s)

    It’s that time of year when we look back at our favourites of 2011! We read a lot of great books this year – and we have an even bigger pile of ‘meant-to-reads’ from this year. We thought we’d reveal some of our picks for Best of 2011.

    And…we’re asking for YOUR picks for Best Reads of 2011.

    In fact if you comment on our Facebook page or on the blog posting with your picks we’ll do up a new post with a compilation of all of YOUR recommendations. Wouldn’t that be a great list to start 2012 off with?!

    So we’ll show you some of ours…and you can show us some of yours!

    The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

    After he crashes his plane into Lake Champlain, killing most of the passengers, Chip Linton moves into a new home with his wife and twin daughters and soon finds himself being haunted by the dead passengers, all while his wife wonders why the strange herbalist denizens of the town have taken such an interest in her daughters. This atmospheric and creepy story will keep you up far past your bedtime!

    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

    Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford's library, scholar Diana Bishop, a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage, inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of daemons, witches and vampires whose activities center around an enchanted treasure. This literary paranormal romantic mystery is sure to have something for everyone!

    Embassytown by China Miéville

    Retaining a tenuous peace on a distant planet in the far future, humans and aliens work together through a mutually beneficial economic arrangement that is threatened by the arrival of a new group of humans that destabilizes the world's balance. A challenging but oh-so-worth-it read! Miéville is a brilliant storyteller.

    Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

    The Bigtree children struggle to protect their Florida Everglades alligator-wrestling theme park from a sophisticated competitor after losing their parents. From the far-out and bizarre—alligator wrestlers and ghost-possession-romance—to the emotional landscapes we all face—sibling and family dynamics, dealing with loss, Swamplandia! has it all… what will draw you in and keep you riveted, though, is the way Russell perfectly captures all those intangible moments in the lives of her characters that you will recognize from your own life.

    A Red Herring Without Mustard by C. Alan Bradley

    When a Gypsy woman is wrongly accused of kidnapping a local child, precocious young Flavia de Luce draws on her encyclopedic knowledge of poisons and Gypsy lore to discern what really happened while investigating the mystery of her own mother's fate. We love precocious 11-year-old Flavia de Luce the central character of Bradley's award-winning mystery series and you should too!

    What are your picks for Best Book of 2011?

    *Annotations courtesy of CPL staff and NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.

    If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.


    by Shannon S - 0 Comment(s)

    Lots of people love disaster novels. What’s not to love –they’re often filled with drama and high stakes. Whether they show people dealing with the unfolding disaster or living in its aftermath, there is something compelling that always makes you think about how good you’d be in that situation. Would you have what it takes to survive? Here are a few of our favourite disaster reads – what are yours?

    The Strain by Author Guillermo del Toro

    A vampiric virus infects New York and spreads outward, threatening the city and then the world, as a CDC doctor and a Holocaust survivor fight to save humanity.

    Blindness by José Saramago

    A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" whose victims are confined to a vacant mental hospital, while a single eyewitness to the nightmare guides seven oddly assorted strangers through the barren urban landscape.

    The Plague by Albert Camus

    Chaos prevails when the bubonic plague strikes the Algerian coastal city of Oran.

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    In a novel set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity.

    The Stand by Stephen King

    A monumentally devastating plague leaves only a few survivors in a desert world who move toward the ultimate confrontation of good and evil, in the expanded original version of King's novel.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.

    If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.

    Where Do You Like To Do Your Reading?

    by Shannon S - 0 Comment(s)

    While Calgarians are hopefully not reading while operating a motor vehicle it is surprising to see all the places we do read.

    There is a pedestrian often spotted reading her book as she walks across the Centre Street Bridge – serious multitasking!

    Here are some suggestions for books and the places to read them:

    In Bed:

    How about a cozy mystery like Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief by Dorothy Gilman

    Emily Pollifax, a suburban New Jersey grandmother and part-time CIA agent,

    is sent to Sicily to investigate an ancient document, leading her into a

    deadly confrontation with international arms dealers.

    Or a warm tale of friendship like Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

    Inseparable best friends Kate and Tully, two young women who, despite their

    very different lives, have vowed to be there for each other forever, have been true to

    their promise for thirty years, until events and choices in their lives tear them apart.

    On Vacation:

    Try some frothy fun with Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

    Nothing comes between Becky Brandon and her bargains. Neither act of God nor budget crunch

    can shatter her dreams of wall-to-wall Prada. Every milestone in her well-shopped life (travel, long-lost sister,

    marriage, pregnancy) inspires new vistas to explore in the name of retail therapy. But now Becky faces her

    greatest little challenge yet: her two-year-old daughter, Minnie.

    Or perhaps you could try something light and bubbly and romantic with Hard to Handle by Lori Foster

    When his uncle secretly hires a life coach to get him back into the ring, Supreme Battle Challenge

    fighter Harley Handleman, recovering from the death of his mother and his failure to win the title belt,

    is knocked out by Anastasia Bradley, who teaches him how to live again.

    On the Bus:

    Let your fellow passengers know you’re deep and intellectual by reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

    Blends elements of psychoanalysis and Asian religions to probe an Indian aristocrat's efforts to

    renounce sensual and material pleasures and discover ultimate spiritual truths.

    Or if you’re looking for something you can finish during your daily commute, why not try a book of short stories such as Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle?

    A collection of stories set in modern Ireland explores a theme of loss, from a man who remembers

    his early family life while taking daily prescribed walks to a father who considers the impact of his children's pets.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.

    If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.

    Where do you like to read?

    Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Announced!

    by Shannon S - 0 Comment(s)

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

    Tony Webster, now that he is older, is trying to make sense of some of the ways he has behaved towards other people. He discovers that how he remembers events may not be the same way that others remember them.

    It was one of six titles shortlisted including:

    Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

    After surviving an encounter with an escaped tiger, Jaffy Brown, a nineteenth-century street urchin, goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy with whom he forms a long, close friendship. Years pass and Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys, now teenagers, to capture a fabled dragonlike creature during the course of a three-year whaling expedition. Jaffy and Tim are forced to confront man's relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains.

    The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

    Set against the backdrop of the great California Gold Rush, this darkly comic novel follows the misadventures of the fabled Sisters brothers, two hired guns, who, under the order of the mysterious Commodore, try to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, a man who gives them a run for their money.

    Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

    The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero's bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin.

    Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

    Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates. Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. Told in Harri's infectious voice and multicultural slang, Pigeon English follows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.

    Snowdropsby A.D. Miller

    Witnessing the progression of regional corruption in his work as a British lawyer in early 2000s Moscow, Nick Platt rescues two sisters from a purse snatcher and pursues a glamorous romantic relationship with one of the sisters before he is asked to help with a dubious family endeavor.

    The winner receives £50,000 and each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their book.

    Looking for more Award Winning Reads? Why don’t you contact your local library or try NoveList. Did you know that your Calgary Public Library card gives you access to this great database full of ideas for what to read next? If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList.

    Books to Change Your Life

    by Jasna - 1 Comment(s)

    Do you remember the book or books that opened your eyes to life as it would be in another time, in another place, or as another person? According to this study, reading fiction increases a person’s empathy towards others. Books, and not only those of the fiction variety, can change our lives, transform our thinking, and inspire us to do amazing things. What are some of the books that have changed your life?

    Although my list is too long to include in full, here are a few that have stuck with me:

    The Book Thief
    Marcus Zusak

    Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II,

    Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl

    whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain

    her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well

    as their neighbors.

    A Fine Balance

    Rohinton Mistry

    A portrait of India featuring four characters. Two are

    tailors who are forcibly sterilized, one is a student who

    emigrates, and the fourth is a widowed seamstress who

    decides to hang on. A tale of cruelty, political thuggery and

    despair by an Indian from Toronto, author of

    Such a Long Journey.


    Marjane Satrapi

    The great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the

    daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran

    in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast

    contraditions between public and private life.

    For more suggestions and personal stories, check out some of the titles below:

    We would love to hear about the books that changed your life! Share your personal recommendations in the comments!

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList.

    Stop the Presses!

    by Shannon Slater - 0 Comment(s)

    This just in – reading fiction makes you smarter and more socially perceptive!

    University of Toronto Professor Keith Oatley has studied your brain on fiction and concluded that because you have to create meaning from the text and imagine “possible selves in possible worlds” it works your brain and your social I.Q. While all fiction helps, Professor Oatley thinks that literary fiction builds those brain muscles the best so why not try these engaging and entertaining titles and add to those grey cells!

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

    Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

    Beloved by Toni Morrison

    After the Civil War ends, Sethe longingly recalls the two-year-old daughter whom she killed when threatened with recapture after escaping from slavery 18 years before.

    Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

    The family of a fierce evangelical Baptist missionary--Nathan Price, his wife, and his four daughters--begins to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Belgian Congo, where they find their lives forever transformed over the course of three decades by the political and social upheaval of Africa.

    No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

    After being orphaned, Alexander MacDonald comes to Cape Breton Island yearning for family connections and finds himself working in the mines with his wild older brother and caring for another brother, who is dying.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

    Tells the story of the Buendia family, set against the background of the evolution and eventual decadence of a small South American town.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.

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