Friday, December 23, 2016

Best Middle Grade Books of the Year

Lot's of Dewey picks on here...just sayin!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Every Book Lover's Fantasy Hotel!!!

This hostel starring books is Kyoto.  I want to go to there...

Friday, December 16, 2016

How to get a great blurb for your novel

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sarah Klassen from Mosaic Books

As the Buyer for Kelowna's Mosaic Books, in BC's Okanagan valley, there's no better way for me to spend a weekend than with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other. This year I've read a couple brilliant DEBUT novels by YOUNG, women novelists. 

First, Winnipeg author Katherina Vermette previously won a Governor General's Award for her poetry collection, North End Love Songs. The Break is her fiction debut and was also nominated for both the GG's and Rogers Writers' Trust awards -
The Break - Katherina Vermette
The Break is a narrow field between two rows of houses in Winnipeg's North End where 13 yr old Metis youth, Emily is sexually assaulted on a freezing winter night. But she and her friends, mother, aunties and Kookum (Grandmother) do not break. They share and rage and heal each other. No one person can speak for an entire group but through telling these womens' story, author Katherina Vermette gives a face to the urgent crisis of violence against urban indigenous women. The women, and some of the men, are strong and wise and unflinchingly honest. They are so damn brave, facing unthinkable challenges with chins out, ready to take on the world. I don't know whether you have to have experienced trauma to be that strong, but I rather believe so. The novel is intense but there are moments of lightness and humour. This is such an impressive debut novel - best Canadian fiction I've read this year. If you liked Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach, you'll love The Break.

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian born American. This is her debut novel.
Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi
300 years in 300 pages. Epic. Stunning. 26 yr old (yes, 26!) Yaa Gyasi follows the family lineage of two sisters - Esi is sent to America and Effia remains in Ghana. The early chapters are brutal. The family tree at the beginning of the book is invaluable since each chapter jumps forward a generation and alternates between continents.

Both sides experience trauma as a direct result of the legacy of the slave trade. "When someone does wrong, whether it is you or me, whether it is mother or father, whether it is the Gold Coast man or the white man, it is like a fisherman casting a net into the water. He keeps only the one or two fish that he needs to feed himself and puts the rest in the water, thinking that their lives will go back to normal. No one forgets that they were once captive, even if they are now free".

That being said, Gyasi doesn't portray her characters as victims and doesn't let them off the hook. What she does, brilliantly, is she gives each one a voice to tell their story. "We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you've figured that out, you must find that story".

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tina Steed lets us know what she loved in 2016

I pulled out my winter clothes and duvets this week, which means it's time to look back and decide what books were my favourite titles of 2016.  This is especially difficult since I read a little bit of everything!  The Divas and Dude asked me to write about my two favourite books, but I couldn't get it down that small, so here are my favourite three!

Bedmates by Nichole Chase by William Morrow Paperbacks
When the soft-hearted Maddie McGuire is arrested, it's international news; her father is President of the United States, after all.  Her official punishment is to fulfill community service, but the real pain comes from having to work with Jake Simmon, the son of the vice-president, to complete her sentence.  Growing up these two were constantly at each other and that doesn't seem to change now that Jake is back from Afghanistan.
On the surface Bedmates looks like your typical romance, but there is more depth here.  Jake suffers from PTSD but is hiding it from those who love him, one of their parents is actively working to keep these two apart, and it all comes to a spectacular head in a way that kept me flipping pages as fast as I could to find out how it all got resolved. 

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro by Katherine Tegen Books
My favourite YA book of the year was definitely A Study in Charlotte.  Here we have (yet another) twist on Sherlock Holmes, but one that is done so well that I quickly forgave it.  Jamie Watson is sent across the ocean to study at a school in Connecticut close to his estranged father.  Also studying there is Charlotte Holmes, a mysteriously quirky girl who doesn't seem to have any close friends, definitely has a drug problem, and screams trouble.  Since their families have been pushed together for generations, avoiding Charlotte isn't possible,  especially once they are both framed for murder.
Seeing how Cavallaro managed to work in all of the classic Holmes things we know into a teenaged character was a joy.  The mystery kept me guessing and like Jamie, by the end of the novel I couldn't keep from falling for Charlotte and wanting to know more of their story.  Luckily, it's the first in a trilogy so there will be many more adventures to follow!

Echo Echo by Marilyn Singer 
Run, don't walk, to get your hands on a copy of this picture book.  Singer creates magic here, and the book's illustrator Josee Masse adds the sparkle to make it perfect.  Echo Echo is a book of poetry, but like the art on the cover, it can be read in multiple ways.  Each poem tells a story when read traditionally, however when read in reverse present another point of view on the story.  All the poems are based on classic Greek myths including Pandora, Medusa, and Pygmalion, but they can be appreciated without any knowledge of their roots as well.  Singer is a true artist and I marvel at her accomplishments in this book.

Tina Steed is a Librarian.  When she isn't buying books at work or reading them at home, she can be found behind a sewing machine or discovering a new restaurant with friends.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Keitha Langston from ULS tells us about her two favourite books of 2016

Keitha picked  The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín and The Hill by Karen Bass; two books about crossing over to the spirit word, inspired by cultural traditions in their respective countries.

The Call is part dystopian, part horror mixed in with Irish folklore. Ireland has been completely isolated from the world by the people of the fairy hills, the Sídhe; no human is able to enter or leave the island. The Sídhe began taking teenagers twenty-five years ago. Back then only one in one hundred survived their call: three minutes in our world, but one full day in the land of the Sídhe, being hunted and cruelly tortured, and most likely killed. Fifteen-year-old Nessa attends survival college like all teens in Ireland. Now, one in ten teens is likely to survive thanks to the training they receive at college. But no one thinks Nessa will survive her call. Her legs are twisted from Polio; Ireland no longer has the means to produce the vaccine. But Nessa doesn’t care what others think. She means to survive. While fearing her Call could take place at any second, Nessa navigates the harsh world of survival college where students train to fight the Sídhe and learn everything they can about the Sídhe world and language. Nessa must also evade her tormentors, Conor, and his extremely violent gang, who believe she’s wasting Ireland’s precious resources by attending college and merely being alive.
The tension mounts as Conor becomes increasingly violent, his hate for Nessa bordering on obsession, and the Sídhe seem to be getting stronger, finding for more inventive ways to torment Ireland's teens.
The story is rich in chilling detail of the Sídhe hunting their prey in their perilous and toxic world. Strong emphasis is given to the emotional stress students must withstand to have to nerve to survive their Call. The boarding school setting, subtle romance, and themes of friendship that run throughout the story makes The Call an utterly satisfying read.

The Hill by Karen Bass is a modern day Hatchet based on Cree mythology to make a very spooky tale set in the vast wilds of Northern Alberta. Main character Kyle says it all when he tells Jared “Sometimes scared is the smartest thing you can be.”
Jared is a privileged white boy from Edmonton on his way to visit his father in Yellowknife. He wakes from unconsciousness to find that his private jet has crashed in the remote wilderness. Kyle, Cree and comfortable surviving in the forest, is out hunting when he spots Jared’s plane crash. Coming to help, Kyle tries to convince a panicking Jared not to climb a forbidden hill to try in order to find cell phone reception. Kyle is extremely nervous about climbing the hill - his grandmother has warned him it’s dangerous - but Jared refuses to listen and Kyle refuses to let Jared explore alone. Upon climbing the hill it becomes clear that something isn’t right. Soon, the boys realize they have entered a dangerous spirit world. To make matters worse they become aware that something is hunting them, a terrifying creature named WîhtikoThe boys desperately try to return to the real world and escape Wîhtiko. The tension increases as a raging forest fire bears down on them and Witchiko gets closer and closer to catching them. As Jared and Kyle try and evade the terrifying Wîhtiko, the two also deal with their inherent mistrust of each other, rooted in stereotypes about each other’s culture.
Together, they boys try and overcome their differences and survive. Jared must learn to believe in himself and stop thinking himself as a coward. With themes of survival, Cree legends, and prejudice, The Hill is an outstanding high action horror tale.

United Library Services is Canada’s largest book wholesaler, serving schools and public libraries for over 70 years. Keitha Langston is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta, and is currently a Collection Development Coordinator at ULS.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Faves of the year!

Every year we ask a few of our favourite people to let us know about their favourite books of the year.

First up is the fabulous Linda Ludke from London Public Library.

This was a fine year for teen fiction.  My favourite book of 2016, hands down, would have to be Lisa Moore’s Flannery.  It is such a bewitching and intense story, and I stayed up way too late to finish reading it in one big gulp.  Flannery struggles with the mind games and mine fields of high school and you feel her pain.  The poetic stream-of-consciousness narration immediately pulls you in and it feels like Flannery is whispering all of her secrets and betrayals and crushes directly in your ear.  And on top of everything, she has to get her love potion invention for her Entrepreneurship class finished on time. 

No lie, I also enjoyed Teresa Toten’s Beware that Girl.  It is a deliciously dark, psychological thriller. 
Kate O’Brien is a scholarship student at a posh private school who is driven, ambitious, street smart and a really good liar.  Kate’s not afraid to use people to get ahead and she’s set her sights on a girl who is rich and needs a friend just as badly as she does.  Their friendship is full of manipulation and it isn’t just one-sided deceit, because Olivia has her own sneaky secrets.  This book is edgy, scary and gritty.  There are so many twists in the plot that you are always kept guessing.  Just when you think you have the plot figured out, the surprising ending will have you reading the chapters again to pick up on missed clues. 

Linda has worked at London Public Library for 25 years and has the best job in the world.  She's a Collections Management Librarian and select the children and teen materials for our library system.  In her life outside the library, she reviews for Quill and Quire and The National Reading Campaign.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Obama pens a piece for Lonely Planet

This is very cool; President Obama wrote a piece this month for Lonely Planet:

“Lonely Planet believes responsible travel can be a force for good. It's a belief shared by President Barack Obama, the first sitting US president to visit Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Myanmar and Laos. On his final foreign trip, he spoke to us about how the optimistic, tolerant and engaged young people he has met around the world give him hope for the future.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

Kirkus' Best Picture Books of 2016

Kirkus has released their best picture books of the year and there are lot's to choose from. What a great year for picture books!

Thursday, November 10, 2016


My close personal friends at This Is That (a.k.a. they spoke at our sales conference) have just released This Is That: A Travel Guide To Canada.
To celebrate it's awesomeness check out their video which is a weird and wacky ode to selling books!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Marnie Jackson on The Next Chapter

Don't I Know You  was one of my fave reads of the year. It is journalist Marni Jackson's first foray into fiction. In the book, the main character, Rose's life intersects with a wide number of celebrities: Bob Dylan, John Updike, Taylor Swift, etc. My favourite scene is Rose in the beauty salon with Gwyneth Paltrow. Shelagh Rogers interviews Jackson on The Next!

Monday, October 31, 2016

And another list!

Indigo's top 10 books of the's a good one!

  1. The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall (House of Anansi Press)
  2. Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire (Simon & Schuster Canada) and Wenjack by Joseph Boyden (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
  3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Bond Street Books)
  4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Random House Canada)
  5. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (S&S Canada)
  6. Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Del Rey)
  7. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s Press)
  8. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (S&S Canada)
  9. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (HarperCollins)
  10. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Crown)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Here's a pretty cool list

The Literary Review of Canada is celebrating it's 25th anniversary. In recognition of this occasion, they asked some pretty awesome writers to compile a list of the the top Canadian books of the past 25 years. They said the criteria was "what books did we—and you—argue about over the dinner table?"  The list is amazing. Margaret Atwood discusses Kiss of the Fur Queen; Ibi Kaslik presents The Tipping Point. Check it out and see which ones got your discussions going.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number is an incredible (and not unheard of) story of a young girl's brutal experience in the residential schools. This is Jenny Kay Dupis' retelling of her grandmother's childhood. Gillian Newland's amazing illustrations and Kathy Kacer's wonderful words illuminate this remarkable story.
You can hear more on this story on Matt Galloway's show on CBC.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Not So Super Power Generator

Clara (the star of Clara Humble and the Not-So- Super Hero Powers) wants you to find out your Super Power Name. Go to Clara Humble's Not So Super Power Generator. to find out yours. What was mine? The Fancy Bookish Girl...not much of a surprise ('cept maybe the Fancy part) :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Small Victories...My Favourite Cookbook of the Season!

This is such a smart book. Julia called the book Small Victories as she believes that cooking is a bunch of small victories and shouldn't be overwhelming. She gives one recipe and has 5 adaptations of it. Julia has worked on cookbooks with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali. Ina Garten is a big fan.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fatty Legs

Fatty Legs is an amazing story of resilience and survival in Canada's Residential schools. It was won countless awards and been on numerous best-of lists. The CBC interviewed both of the authors. You can hear the full conversation here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CBC's Fan Choice Contest

Fan Choice with Books logoThe CBC, Canadian Children's Book Centre and TD Bank have joined together to create the CBC's Fan Choice Contest. To vote for your favourite of the 5 books go here and you get a chance to win a visit by one of the finalist authors to your school, copies of that author's book for all of the students in your class, $2000 donation to your school library and $500 spending money.
What are you waiting for! Vote!!!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Happy B-Day Annick Press!

Anne and Rick working out of Anne's basement in the early days of Annick Press, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
PW did a great piece on the history of Annick Press who have been publishing for 40 years! From working out of a basement on a shared desk to one of the top children's publishers, it is an amazing story. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Happy B-day Curious George!

It's everyone's favourite monkey's 75th birthday this year! Created 75 years ago by Margret and HA Rey, the very first Curious George book has never been out of print. Here's a link to some fun facts about the cheeky wee monkey. If you would like to celebrate his b-day, you can download an activity kit here.    

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lois Lowry: 6 books that changed my life

Lois Lowry's Looking Back: A Book of Memories, will be coming out in a new edition early next year. She recently talked to the CBC about the 6 books that changed her life. 2 of the books she picked were by our very own Robertson Davies and Margret Atwood. You can see the full list here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Star Wars Reads Month is Coming!

DK has downloadable activity kits on their website. If you'd like Star Wars Bookplates and Star Wars Bookmarks, send them an email at by October 1st! 
Enjoy - and may the Force be with you!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Time to Get Your Yum On!

Chatelaine has posted the 18 hot cookbooks to watch for this Fall. So many to choose from! These books make the impending cold weather seem more least I can eat my way thru Winter ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Canada Rocks...But We Already Know That...


SLJ wrote a super article on how Canada publishes so many diverse kid's books. Written by our very own Ken Setterington, the article profiles lots of our fabulous publishers and creators.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Batman Day...September 17th...Save the Date!

And if you are really into it, you can download some really cool activity kits from the DK website...enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Star Wars Reads Day is....the Whole Month of October!

Yup that's right...there will be 31 days to celebrate all things Star Wars. Stay tuned for more details on how publishers will be celebrating this month. For now you can go here.