Author: nvclkat

NVCL Reads: Illustrated

Sometimes you want fewer words, and more pictures! Below we have a selection of 5 fabulous illustrated books that can be found on our shelves for your #NVCLreads Canada Reads 150 bingo! Kick off your sandals, find a hammock and get lost in the colorful pages of these beautiful works of art.

tokyoonfootTokyo on foot: Travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods, by Florent Chavouet

Florent Chavouet, a young graphic artist, spent six months exploring Tokyo while his girlfriend interned at a company there. Each day he would set forth with a pouch full of color pencils and a sketchpad, and visit different neighborhoods. This stunning book records the city that he got to know during his adventures. It isn’t the Tokyo of packaged tours and glossy guidebooks, but a grittier, vibrant place, full of ordinary people going about their daily lives and the scenes and activities that unfold on the streets of a bustling metropolis.

 

patternsPatterns: Inside the design library, by Peter Koepke

Every season, designers from fashion, home furnishings, textiles, graphic arts, and paper-product industries seek inspiration from patterns to bring their collections to life. Many of these designers – including Beacon Hill, Boden, Calvin Klein, Lululemon, Nike, Oscar de la Renta, Pottery Barn, and Target – look to the Design Library, the world’s largest archive of surface design. This one-of-a-kind book, drawn from the Design Library’s archive, is an exclusive and ultimate sourcebook of pattern and ornament.

 

rebeljesterRebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: contemporary Persians, by Fereshte Daftari

This beautiful illustrated title tells the story of the evolution of Iranian contemporary art by examining the work of 30 artists. This is art where the ills of internal politics remain astutely masked below a layer of ornamentation, poetry, or humor. What unite the disparate works into a coherent theme are the artist’s coping mechanisms, which consist of subversive critique, quiet rebellion, humor, mysticism, and poetry, hence the publications title.

 

aloneAlone, by Chaboute

On a tiny lighthouse island far from the rest of the world, a lonely hermit lives out his existence. Every week a supply boat leaves provisions, its occupants never meeting him, never asking the obvious questions: Who are you? Why do you hide? Why do you never leave? What is it like to be so alone? Years spent on a deserted rock – a lifetime, really – with imagination his sole companion has made the lighthouse keeper something more than alone, something else entirely.

 

secretpathSecret Path, by Gordon Downie

Secret Path is the heart-rending story of an Indigenous boy seeking to escape the residential school system and return to his family. Alternately hopeful and devastating, Secret Path traces the boy’s fateful journey into the wilderness, lending a personal face to a cold and distant chapter of Canada’s history.

 

– Brie

NVCL Reads: Over 400 Pages

If you’re doing #NVCLreads this summer and are a particularly ambitious reader, then this category is for you!  Great for long (long) days at the beach, or hiding inside from sunburn, here are our picks for #NVCLreads400:

fallonyourkneesFall on Your Knees, by Ann Marie Macdonald (566 pages)
Recommended by Fereshteh

Following the curves of history in the first half of the twentieth century, Fall On Your Knees takes us from haunted Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, through the battle fields of World War One, to the emerging jazz scene of New York city and into the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The mythically charged Piper family–James, a father of intelligence and immense ambition, Materia, his Lebanese child-bride, and their daughters: Kathleen, a budding opera Diva; Frances, the incorrigible liar and hell-bent bad girl; Mercedes, obsessive Catholic and protector of the flock; and Lily, the adored invalid who takes us on a quest for truth and redemption–is supported by a richly textured cast of characters. Together they weave a tale of inescapable family bonds, of terrible secrets, of miracles, racial strife, attempted murder, birth and death, and forbidden love.*

* could alternately be used for#NVCLreadsWinner or #NVCLreadsHistorical

agoodmanA Good Man, by Gay Vanderhaeghe (464 pages)
Recommended by Fereshteh

A Good Man culminates what could be thought of as a trilogy of books set in the late nineteenth-century Canadian and American West, and it is a masterpiece. Vanderhaeghe skilfully weaves a rich tapestry of history with the turns of fortune of his most vividly and compellingly drawn cast of characters yet. Vanderhaeghe entwines breathtaking, intriguing, and richly described narratives that contain a compelling love story, a tale of revenge and violence, a spectacular battle scene, the story of an incident in Welsely’s past that threatens his relationship with Ada, and much, much more. While raising moral questions, this novel weaves the historical with the personal and stands as Vanderhaeghe’s most accomplished and brilliant novel to date.*

* could alternately be used for #NVCLreadsHistorical

lightgetsinHow the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny (405 pages)
Recommended by Margarete

In the 9th Chief Inspector Gamache Novel from Louise Penny,  most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues.*

tyrantsthroneTyrant’s Throne (Greatcoats #4), by Sebastian DeCastell
(601 pages). Recommended by Margarete

After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king’s dream: Aline, the king’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all. But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. With so many powerful contenders vying for power, it will fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to utter, much less enforce. Should he help crown the young woman he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?*
Haven’t read this series? Try the first one – Traitor’s Blade – for #NVCLreadsSciFi!

waterratThe Water-Rat of Wanchai: an Ava Lee novel, by Ian Hamilton
(412 pages). Recommended by Margarete

In the first book of the Ava Lee series, Ava – young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads – travels across continents to track $5 million owed by a seafood company. But it’s in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava’s $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share…*

The Way the Crow Flies, by Ann Marie Macdonald (820 pages)crowflies
Recommended by Fereshteh

The optimism of the early sixties, infused with the excitement of the space race and the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of high-spirited, eight-year-old Madeleine, who welcomes her family’s posting to a quiet Air Force base near the Canadian border. Secure in the love of her beautiful mother, she is unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in a web of secrets. When a very local murder intersects with global forces, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine will be forced to learn a lesson about the ambiguity of human morality — one she will only begin to understand when she carries her quest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later.*

Something for the ambitious teen…

bloodredroadBlood Red Road, by Moira Young (458 pages)
Recommended by Kate

In a distant future, eighteen-year-old Lugh is kidnapped, and while his twin sister Saba and nine-year-old Emmi are trailing him across bleak Sandsea they are captured, too, and taken to brutal Hopetown, where Saba is forced to be a cage fighter until new friends help plan an escape.

This is the first in Young’s Dustlands series, and could instead be used for #NVCLreadsSciFi or #NVCLreadsDystopia squares.

And something for the ambitious tween…

airbornAirborn, by Kenneth Oppel (417 pages)
Recommended by Linda

This award winning book is sure to capture  a child’s imagination as 14-year old Matt Cruse sets sail in an Airship called the Aurora. As a cabin boy in this fantastical ship Matt has a series of adventures  including strange cloud cats and pirates.

*Descriptions from the publishers

-Kat

NVCL Reads: Science Fiction and Fantasy

First up in our reading recommendations for the Canada 150 #NVCLreads Bingo game (adult version) is the Science Fiction and Fantasy square, #NVCLreadsSciFi! The following is a mix of new(ish), classic, and personal favourites by our talented Canadian SF/FAN authors:

amongothers

Among Others, by Jo Walton (2011)

While Jo Walton is usually categorized as a fantasy writer, I wouldn’t hesitate to also recommend her to non SF/FAN readers as well because of her masterful prose and wonderfully realized characters.  This haunting (and Hugo award winning!) novel follows Mori, crippled and struggling to escape a troubled childhood and the tragic loss of her twin sister, killed in a confrontation with their mother who had been dabbling in dark magics.  But her attempts to build a new life for herself, including a cautious return to magic, bring her back to the attention of her mother and an inevitable confrontation.

If magic isn’t your thing you could try the more speculative My Real Children or, if philosophy is more your bag, her Thessaly trilogy and any of them will count towards the science fiction or fantasy square!

 

walkawayWalkaway, by Cory Doctorow (2017)

Doctorow’s latest is in the speculative fiction genre, and an interesting blend of utopia and dystopia.  Based in post-scarcity society where you can 3D-print any of the basic necessities of life including food and shelter, its premise begins with a young couple who simply choose to walk away from mainstream society and its out of control wealth and power gap and lack of jobs.  Away from society and occupying lands devastated by climate change they and those who join them discover one thing that the ultra-rich have not been able to achieve – a way to conquer death itself.

* could alternately be used for the #NVCLreadsEnvironment or #NVCLreadsDystopia

 

companytown

Company Town, by Madeline Ashby (2016)

Nominated in the 2017 Canada Reads contest (eventually won by Andre Alexis’ awesome Fifteen Dogs), Ashby’s biopunk novel takes place on a defunct, city-sized oil rig that was recently purchased by an uber-wealthy family company. Its main character, Hwa, is one of the few people in her community (the former oil rig) without any biotechnology enhancements, making her the ideal bodyguard for the young heir of the company. While at its basic its a murder investigation, it contains some excellent world-building, and Hwa is a fascinating, compelling character and the true strength of the book.

 

gardensofthemoon

Gardens of the Moon: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1,
by Steven Erikson (1999)

Ok, now it’s time to admit I haven’t read one of the consistently ranked best Fantasy series of all time. This one’s been on my bucket list for ages, and if it’s on yours too then this is a great excuse to pick it up.  Gardens of the Moon kicks off a 10-volume fantasy epic that spans thousands of years and follows the struggle for power in the Malazan empire. It’s renowned for its world-building, huge cast of characters, and its sheer scale. So, epic fantasy at its most epic.

*coming in at 666 pages, this could alternately be used for the #NVCLreads400

 

Children of Earth and Sky, by Guy Gavriel Kay (2016)

childrenofearthandskyUsually categorized as “historical fantasy”, Kay’s novels are not really fantasy and are only quasi-historical (although they are meticulously researched, so the term “alternate history” might work better), so, here’s a good read for those of you who are not really fantasy readers, but need to fill that square! Kay’s latest is set in near-Renaissance Europe (specifically 16th c. Croatia) and follows the intertwining lives of a large cast of characters – among them a woman out for revenge, a spy, an artist,  a merchant’s son, and a boy training to become a soldier – against the backdrop of a looming war.

 

oryxandcrake

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood (2004)

I’m not sure how one could responsibly write a post on Canadian science fiction and not mention Oryx and Crake and the Maddaddam Trilogy, so if you haven’t yet read it now’s the time. Science-fiction of the post-apocalyptic variety, this novel follows Sandman, who may be the last human left alive. Mourning his friend Crake and Oryx, the woman they both loved, he searches for answers in a world destroyed by genetic engineering run amok. While many people I know preferred the sequel – The Year of The Flood – to its predecessor, Oryx and Crake remains my favourite for its disturbing and unforgettable vision of the future.

*could alternately count for the #NVCLreadsDystopia or #NVCLreadsMargaret

 

Need more? Other Canadian Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors include Kelley Armstrong, R. Scott Bakker, Julie E. CzernedaWilliam Gibson, Tanya HuffRobert J. Sawyer, S.M. Stirling, Robert Charles Wilson

Happy reading and Happy 150th, Canada!
Kat

Kat’s 2017 Most Anticipated Reads

It’s apparently the year of the sequel, at least for my anticipated reads. But three of my current favourite series are wrapping up this year and I’m very, very excited about that. I didn’t even come close to finishing my 2016 TBR list, but since the whole point of a TBR list is to keep adding more to it, here we go!

January Releases:

bearandnightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

One of the few on my list that’s not part of a series, Arden’s debut novel draws heavily from Russian folklore, and is perfect blend of mythology, history, and magic, with fully realized characters and an incredibly well-captured setting. If you liked Uprooted, definitely read this one next. It’s a perfect winter read, although its Medieval Northern Russia Winter setting means that warm blankets and tea while reading this one are a must.

bintihome Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor

In this sequel to 2015’s Hugo and Nebula-award winning novella, Binti – who left home abruptly to attend an off-world university against her family’s wishes – now returns home with her unlikely friend Okwu, and humanity must truly face whether it’s possible for the two races to truly exist peacefully.

February:

conjuring A Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab

This is the finale to Schwab’s brilliant trilogy (which includes A Darker Shade of Magic, and A Gathering of Shadows), where there are four separate worlds with four Londons. Each of the Londons have a different relationship with magic, but there is only one magician left who can travel between them. This chapter in the story promises to wrap up the trilogy in a pretty spectacular fashion, and I’m hoping we get to learn lots more about the fallen black London….

March:

collapsingempire The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi

I love John Scalzi, and not just for the twitter account he made for his kittens (@scamperbeasts), even though it’s adorable.  In his new book, humanity has gone to the stars and has colonizing many other planets, but only because of access to the Flow – a phenomenon that allows them to bypass faster-than-light travel (which doesn’t exist). But when it’s discovered that the Flow moves, and may soon cut humanity off from travel between its worlds, they must scramble to save their empire from collapse.

April:

wakinggods Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel

This is the sequel to 2016’s Sleeping Giants, a sci-fi/conspiracy story of of a team of scientists and military personnel discovering and assembling a colossal robot, who’s parts were scattered all over the earth. The book was quickly optioned for a movie last year. In this follow-up it looks like the now-assembled robot has some company, and Earth may be facing invasion. If you like straight-forward sci-fi that still manages to balance plot and character development, this series is a great pick.

borneBorne, by Jeff VanderMeer

I never actually read VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, but I heard so many good things about it that I’m going to try his new one. It’s dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction about a world destroyed by bio-engineering run amok, and a scavenger who discovers a strange biotech creature which she immediately feels strong, inexplicable bond with.

June:

downamongthesticksDown Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire

This is the second book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series. The previous title, Every Heart a Doorway, was one of my favourite books from 2016, so I’m really excited for this one. It’s not really a direct sequel though; it follows the back-story of two of the most interesting characters from Every Heart, but promises to be much darker, as the world that sisters Jack and Jill found themselves was like a horror movie, filled with mad scientists, vampires, and death.

August:

wardedmanThe Core, by Peter V. Brett

This is the final installment of Brett’s Demon Cycle, which is so far one of my all-time favourite fantasy series. There’s no cover for this book yet, so I’ve posted the first book in the series – The Warded Man. In this last book – The Core – Arlen and Jardir travel down for the final face-off with the demons who have plagued (and decimated) humanity for so long. This series is exciting, fast-paced, featuring some great world-building and a really fascinating system of magic, so if you’re an “epic fantasy” fan I’d definitely recommend this one.

stoneskyThe Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin

The first in this trilogy – The Fifth Season – was brilliant, and the second opened up the world and characters even further, so I’m very excited for this concluding volume. In this last one, Essun’s daughter Nassun has fully come into her power, and now between the two they will either save or destroy the world.

 

 

September:

communication Communication Failure, by Joe Zieja

The first in this “Epic Failure” series, Mechanical Failure, was the funniest, most ridiculously silly book I’d read in a long time; while that can be a tricky thing to maintain in a series, I have high hopes for this one.  It’s a military sci-fi, which is not normally my favourite, but the snappy dialogue, ridiculous (but unfortunately not too far out of the range of realism…) characters, and unrelenting chaos and absurdity won me over and I can’t wait for more!

 

Of course I am continuing not to mention The Winds of Winter, The Doors of Stone, and The Thorne of Emberlain here because that’s asking way too much in a year already packed with sequelly goodness, but I can still keep my fingers crossed for at least an official publication date. What SF/FAN are you most looking forward to this year?

Happy Reading!
Kat

 

 

 

 

 

Kat’s Top Reads of 2016

My Top Reads list this year is admittedly a little short. While 2016 hasn’t been as bad a reading-year as it has been a year in general, I did get stuck on several books for way too long, and had more than a few misses from titles I’d had high hopes for. That being said, it’s definitely not all bad! I did find a few books that I really truly loved among those that I…. didn’t quite love as much.

arcadia Arcadia, by Iain Pears

I’m starting with my number 1 pick for the year, because it’s just that kind of year. This is an ambitious mix of sci-fi and fantasy, following 10 separate characters in 3 different timelines. It’s a little confusing and slow at first, but it’s completely amazing when all the pieces start to fit together (which they continue to do right up until the last few pages, making for an increasingly page-turning read). The book also has an app version, which allows you to put the whole story together in different ways. The plot is difficult to describe (and I don’t think the book blurbs do it justice), but it involves a lot of time travel, and explores the relationship between past and present, fact and fiction, in ways you would never expect.

everyheartEvery Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

A close second on my 2016 favourites list, this novella is set in an unusual school that takes in children who at one point in their lives have discovered a doorway to another world. These worlds usually fit the children perfectly, but then they were somehow cast out and forced back into our world where they don’t fit anymore.  The story is lyrical and beautiful, and I adored the characters and the worlds they found, and then heartbreakingly lost. My only complaint was previously that it was too short, but fortunately there’s a sequel due out next year! This is a great pick for teens, or adults like me who are still convinced there’s a doorway to another world out there somewhere…

mechanicalfailureMechanical Failure, by Joe Zieja

This book finally allowed me to add a new title to my list of the best in ridiculously funny sci-fi & fantasy for the first time in years (it’s still a very small list. I’ll promise I’ll share when it’s bigger). In this story, Sergeant-turned-smuggler Wilson Rogers is forced to return to military service, only to find that the easy going, peacetime military of his younger days is a thing of the past, and things are about to go seriously, catastrophically wrong. It also features an ill-tempered robot whose programming won’t allow him to swear, and the phrases he comes up with to compensate earned me a lot of funny looks in the airport when I kept giggling. Another great pick for teens, and of course for very silly adults.

summerlongSummerlong, by Peter S. Beagle

A novel by the author of The Last Unicorn, this is a great pick for fans of magical realism. It features a vivid (and relatively local!) setting and characters who feel truly real and whose growth and are wholly believable, along with a bit of mythology and magic thrown into the mix. A short but beautiful and bittersweet read.

 

gatheringofshadowsA Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab has had a great year between this title and her teen book This Savage Song (written as Victoria Schwab). This is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, and it definitely lives up to the high standard set by its predecessor, with a fascinating world, interesting characters, and a fast paced plot. I particularly loved that we got to see so much more of Lila in this one. This is a great pick for series readers, as they won’t have long to wait for the final installment – A Conjuring of Light – which is due out in February.

 

infomocracy

Infomocracy, by Malka Older

In a year dominated by politics and elections, this title a timely read. In this quasi-utopian vision of the future, the world votes for a single government via a global system of micro-democracies. Keeping this system running is the Information, a global organization that controls and disseminates data in order to keep the electorate informed.  The plot of course centres around an election, but the strength and intrigue of this novel lies more in its political and informational world-building. It’s a fascinating read, full of big ideas that are worth exploring.

Well, I guess that makes this my top 6 for this year! Next year my reading resolution is to put down the book if it’s not keeping me up past my bedtime. While that might not be the healthiest approach for my sleep cycle, it should result in a healthier-sized best of list for 2017.

What were your favourites this year? Any sci-fi / fantasy you feel I’ve missed?

Happy holidays, and happy reading!
Kat

Most Borrowed eBooks of 2016

cloudlibrary-app-icon

Our most-borrowed eBooks for 2016 are a great mix of brand new titles and some of the best from 2014& 2015.  I was going for a Top-10, but we’ve got too many ties for that to work, so instead I present the Top-7 of the year, as borrowed from our Cloud Library eBook collection!

 We have a three-way tie for 7th place:

When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi
Smarter Faster Better Charles Duhigg
I Let You Go Claire Mackintosh

 A two-way tie for 6th place:

The Martian Andy Weir
Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert

 A two-way tie for 5th place:

The Illegal Lawrence Hill
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr

 And the Top 4 are:

#4:  The Widow Fiona Barton
#3:  The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins
#2:  The Nest Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
#1:  Everyone Brave Is Forgiven Chris Cleave

I personally need some new titles to beef up my potential list of 2016 favourite books, and a few of these look like they might hit the mark. So excuse me while I go add a bunch more eBooks to my Kobo, and stay tuned for more most borrowed lists!

Kat

Calling All Writers… it’s NaNoWriMo!

nonawrimo

Apparently everyone has a book in them. But can you write that 50,000 word book in one month? That’s the NaNoWriMo challenge.  Need some help and/or inspiration? We’ve got you covered!

passionfornarrativeA Passion for Narrative, by Jack Hodgins

Canadian writer and teacher Jack Hodgins offers advice, examples, and exercises to help you develop your narrative skills – both writing it, and reading it.

From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen fromwhereyoudreamButler

Butler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and this title is a series of lectures that capture his approach to writing, which he teaches in his creative writing class – also known as “Literary Boot Camp,” due to its (and Butler’s) intensity. His method is very prescribed, and some have described it as a bit dogmatic, but his advice has nevertheless been invaluable to many aspiring writers.

writingadviceUltimate Guide to Writing Advice, by signature-reads.com

Or, if those titles are a little too weighty for the approaching end-of-the-month deadline, try the Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice. It’s a free 23-page eBook from Signature Reads, featuring tips on creating an effective writing routine, banishing writers’ block, and insights from 12 award-winning authors.

Looking for help writing a specific genre? Try one of these:

writing

Writing Mysteries, by Margaret Lucke

Writing Romance, by Vanessa Grant

Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, by Crawford Killian

Writing Historical Fiction, by Rhona Martin

Or, check out our Lynda.com resource for professional video tutorials to help you write, produce, and publish your book! Lynda.com has thousands of video courses and tutorials on a wide variety of creative, business, and technical topics, taught by industry professionals (who are also awesome teachers!). Lynda.com is accessible for free, from home, with your library card (to North Van City residents only though!).

Log in to Lynda.com through nvcl.ca first, and then try one of thlynda_blog_badgeese courses:

 

And what are you going to do after you’ve finished your 50,000-word masterpiece? Get some help navigating the publishing and self-publishing worlds:

selfpublishbootcamp     writingebook     publish    publishamazon    perfectbound

 

 

Also, if you just need some quiet, dedicated writing time during NaNoWriMo, there are even local write-ins you can attend. The closest one to us here on the North Shore is our friends over at Vancouver Public Library Central Branch – check out the sessions they’re hosting here.

Good luck, and happy writing!
Kat