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.