Book News Roundup – December 19, 2014

Ortberg-Ayn-Rand-Reviews-Childrens-Movies-690The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2014.

The New York Times Book Reviewers’ Favourite Books of 2014.

The Canada Reads Longlist is here!

Ayn Rand reviews children’s movies.

For Serial Fans: A Funny or Die parody of Sarah Koenig’s final day of the podcast.

What’s your reading personality? (Apparently, I am an “Exacting Reader”).

According to Vulture, Stephen Colbert was Late Night’s most passionate book nerd.

Bookriot’s 5 Book Culture Heroes of 2014.

The World’s greatist storytellers: An Infographic.

Happy weekend! – Heidi

Image via.

NVCL Staff Favourites from 2014 – Part I

We asked our staff members to tell us the best book they read in 2014. Here is what they told us:

HalfBloodPrinceHarry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

“Despite working in the Children’s Department, I had never read the Harry Potter Series before this year.  And, (perhaps even more surprisingly), I managed to avoid finding out how the series ended.  While my pumpkin princesses and I were captivated by the entire series, nothing compares to how devastating, (and moving), we found the ending of book six.” – Patricia, Public Services Assistant

IndianHorse2Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

“Indian Horse is a heart-wrenching but ‘un put down able’ read about the life of Saul Indian Horse who, as a boy, was pulled from his Ojibway community and forced into an abusive residential school in Northern Ontario.  He discovers hockey at the school and this becomes his salvation as he endures racism and spirit-breaking treatment.   A sad depiction of part of Canada’s history, this should be on everyone’s reading list.” – Elaine, Auxiliary Librarian

No Place to HideNo Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

“This is not only an important book, but very readable too. Greenwald’s narrative begins like a spy novel (except it’s true), then covers the implications of Snowden’s revelations, and ends with observations on the role of the Press in the digital age. Don’t miss this book.” – Michael, Digital Services Librarian

NotThatKindOfGirlNot That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

“In this collection of autobiographical essays Lena Dunham lays bare her life experiences, some of which are amusing and others that are absolutely cringe-worthy. Ms. Dunham’s writing style is funny and engaging which is why I read it in a day and I can’t wait to see more from her!” – Brie, Public Services Assistant

SecretPlaceThe Secret Place by Tana French

“I am not usually a mystery fan, but in 2014 I discovered Tana French and her five novels about the Dublin Murder squad.  I enjoyed them so much I read all five back to back.  The intriguing thread in all five novels is that each one involves a different squad member that might have only had a minor role in the novel before. The fifth in the series, The Secret Place, was published in  2014. A boy is murdered. The psychological thriller is about  the private and dangerous underworld of teenage girls. It is a powerful, haunting exploration of family, friendship and loyalty. Intriguing!” – Jane Watkins, Chief Librarian

SorrowsKnotSorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow

“This book is so evocatively written it pulled me in from the first page. I absolutely love the characters Otter, Kestrel, Cricket and Orca. Erin Bow creates beautiful visuals and an utterly believable fantasy world. The story is fascinating, and I feel like I learned so much from this book about life, death and love.” – Kate, Teen Librarian

SweetlandSweetland by Michael Crummey

“Moses Sweetland is faced with a critical decision, leave with fellow villagers the only life he has known on a remote Island in Canada , or accept a government relocation package. From beginning to end, author Michael Crummey unfolds for us a beautifully composed spiral of contemplations that speak to the resilience and tenacity of spirit we wish we all had.” – Chris, Head of Digital Services

WalkAcrsossA Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

“Two teenage sisters, after a tsunami hits their Indian town, are orphaned. While the sisters make an effort to head back to safe inland they are kidnapped and sold into the sex trade. Meanwhile, a DC lawyer’s wife left him after their baby daughter died, and it’s impacting his work. After seeing a young girl kidnapped and learning she may also have been sold into the sex trade, he decides to spend a year working for a group that put on trial sex traffickers. He makes it his mission to find the teens, but how he can find two specific girls in this great world is the core of this story.” – Homa, Public Services Assistant

Stay tuned for 2014 Staff Favourites Part II!

Patricia’s Fresh Picks for December 2014

Okay, I admit it: between baking, attending Christmas concerts, wrapping presents and other festivities, there isn’t much time left for reading in December.  Still, a girl can dream.  If you manage to squeeze some pleasure reading into the busy weeks ahead, here’s what I recommend:

emmaEmma by Alexander McCall Smith*

Yes, that Emma! Emma is the latest retelling of Jane Austen’s work to come out of The Austen Project.  Previous works include Val McDermid’s deliciously modern Northanger Abbey and Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility.  I can’t think of anyone whose writing style would better lend itself well to the material.  It should be enough to tide us all over until Curtis Sittenfeld’s Pride and Prejudice comes out next year.

thereonceThere Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children Until They Moved Back In by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya*

Confession:  I’m usually sucked into Petrushevskaya’s short stories by their evocative titles.  Her previous works include: There Once Lived A Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself and There Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby.  


holdthedarkHold the Dark by William Giraldi

The NY Times raves, “Hold the Dark is an unnerving and intimate portrayal of nature gone awry. It forces us to confront a menacing otherness that lies beyond the typical order of things. It’s all but bereft of levity, spectacularly violent and exquisitely written. If dust jackets were more than paper and ink, this one would bear blood and frost.”


Happy reading!


*Thanks to NetGalley and Edelweiss for providing advanced readers copies of these titles.

Patricia’s Holiday Gift Guide for Young Booklovers

I love shopping for children’s books. Hours can be lost while I browse Kidsbooks in the Village (or even our own booksale for that matter). Not sure what books to buy the half pints on your holiday list? Here are some recommendations:

fionawattFor 0-2 year olds: Fiona Watt’s That’s Not My… series
There are several titles in this playful series. In each one a white mouse is looking for his tiger (dinosaur, fairy, truck, etc.) and comes across several similar items that have a different texture. The books are sturdy enough to stand up to multiple readings and each page has some texture to it so baby can touch and feel.

cozyFor 0-2 year olds with bookish parents: Something from the Cozy Classics series
Because you are never to young to read War and Peace, Cozy Classics has produced a series of beloved classics, from Pride and Prejudice to Moby Dick. Each book retells its story in twelve well-chosen words.

octonautsFor the preschool biologist: Meomi’s The Octonauts series
From the team that brought us the 2010 Winter Olympic mascots, this series is both educational and a lot of fun. Each book relates a new undersea adventure with a playful vibe. Best of all, the series stands up to multiple re-reads without getting old for the grown-ups.

demondentistFor the Roald Dahl fan: The Demon Dentist by David Walliams
Or anything by David Walliams really. In The Demon Dentist, twelve-year old Alfie tries hard to avoid going to the dentist… ever. In the past, it wasn’t so hard, but now there’s a new dentist in town. She creepily wants the children to call her “Mummy” and her homemade toothpaste eats through stone… could she be behind the grisly gifts left under children’s pillows at night?

readingbonesFor the relatives living abroad who want a “Canadian” book: The Peggy Henderson series by Gina McMurchy-Barber
In the first book, Reading the Bones, 12-year old Peggy Henderson has to move in with her aunt and uncle who live in Crescent Beach, BC. While she’s there, she and her uncle discover an ancient burial site, and over time, Peggy learns how to ‘read the bones’ and discovers the story of Shuksi’em, the storyteller whose skeleton she uncovered.

Happy Shopping!


Holiday Gift Guide 2014

What’s better than books as gifts? Books AND other stuff, together, as gifts!

Here are a few gift ideas for you this holiday season:

BigLittleLiesFor the Book Clubber: Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

“A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? From the beloved author of The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot.”
Pair with fancy bookends.


GardenersGardenFor the Gardener: The Gardener’s Garden, by Madison Cox

“The ultimate garden book – both a collection of gardens from around the world and a resource for those seeking inspiration on garden design and planting. Featuring over 250 permanent gardens by leading garden designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects, from the 14th century to the present day.”

Pair with a beautiful hanging planter.

EssentialismFor the Life Guru: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

An approach to life for those who want to get more done in less time. This book offers a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

Pair with a simple black Moleskin notebook.

WorldIceFor the Nerd: The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

“This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.”

Pair with this sleek but burly beer horn.

OnePotFor the New Parents: One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals From your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More, from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

This is a fabulous cookbook for parents (or anyone, really) who wants to put relatively simple, easy, delicious and healthy-ish meals together on weeknights but who don’t want to just resort to quesidillas, bean burritos and scrambled eggs once again. As always, the Martha Stewart Living team has made sure these recipes are well-written and accompanied by nice images. I love this cook book!

Pair with a Lodge cast iron skillet.

BunchFor the Shopping Buddy: A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, by Sarah Lazarovic

“A witty, gracious, and charmingly illustrated anti-consumer manifesto. Like most people, Sarah Lazarovic covets beautiful things. But rather than giving in to her impulse to spend and acquire, Sarah spent a year painting the objects she wanted to buy instead. Based on a visual essay that was first published on The Hairpin, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy is a beautiful and witty take on the growing “slow shopping” movement.”

Pair with a pretty pouch to hold all the extra money she’ll save.

StationElevenFor Speculative Fiction Fans: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

“An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.”

Pair with a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, to survive the collapse.




A Tale of Two Revivals

Because the world sometimes moves in mysterious ways, I had two holds come in last week.  (Actually that part is pretty normal.)  What is strange is that they shared the same unusual title: Revival.

revivalOne, as you undoubtedly know, is the new Stephen King book.  It marks the author’s return to horror after Mr. Mercedes, the creepy thriller that was published this spring.  There is a delicious tension in the way King plays with the title.  One of the main characters is Pastor Danny Jacobs.  He floats in and out of the protagonist’s (Jamie Morton’s) life.  Given the prominence of a religious man in the novel, you’d expect King to use the title in its religious sense, “a reawakening of religious fervor”, but that expectation is subverted.  Instead, Pastor Jacobs loses his faith in the wake of personal tragedy, and goes on the road as a healer, a man who restores vitality to the desperate ill.  But how dark is the source of his power?revival2

The second Revival bills itself as rural noir.  It’s like a zombie comic with no stereotypical zombies.  Instead, the small town of Wausau, Wisconsin experienced an event they call “Revival Day” when the dead rose from the grave.  In the aftermath of that day, the town finds itself quarantined by the US Government.  Sheriff Cypress is trying to get to the bottom of “Revival Day” and discover what caused it, while his eldest daughter, Officer Dana Cypress tries to solve her sister Em’s murder– without letting anyone know that Em is a reviver too.

Both are engrossing reads.  And with the end of school term just around the corner, they are just what I need to revive my own interest in reading for pleasure.  Let the holidays… begin!