2017

Patricia’s 2017 Fall Picks

Fall sunsetFall for me is a time of spectacular sunsets – when the days get a little darker and the evenings have a little more bite to them.  I like my fall reading to take that darkness and run with it.  The contrast between what I’m reading and my cozy surroundings, well, that’s what fall reading is all about.  Here’s are the new releases I’m drawn to this fall:

September

sleeping beautiesSleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King

You can’t get much darker than an epic new novel by the master of horror (and his son).  “In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent.”* Yes, please.

ngLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told Youwas a quietly thrilling look at the ways in which we fail to understand each other.  Her follow up, Little Fires Everywhere, deals in family secrets and centres around a custody battle that divides a town. “It explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.”*

solar bonesSolar Bones by Mike McCormack

I often imagine what it would feel like to write something utterly fresh and technically masterful – like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.  And while such innovation is not in all of us, it certainly seems to have found a home in Mike McCormack.  In Solar Bones McCormack writes “a three-part harmony of experiment, comedy and metaphysics” within a single novel-length sentence.  

lostLost in September by Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter wrote Annabel one of those rare books whose writing made my stomach ache it was so good.  And it wasn’t just the writing — the characters, the story line, the evocation of place — Annabel had it all.  And thus I eagerly await Lost in September, a story about a damaged war veteran transplanted in time.

October

dunbarDunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

King Lear is recast with Henry Dunbar, “the once all-powerful head of a global media corporation” in the lead.  “Imprisoned in a care home in the Lake District with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?”*

powerThe Power by Naomi Alderman

I couldn’t wait for this Bailey’s Prize winner to be released in Canada, so bought a copy online from the UK.  Alderman’s novel explores the metaphor of power by making it literal.  Women are capable of electrocuting others and therefore have power over men.  How do an abused foster child, an rising politician, and a crime boss’ daughter choose to wield what they’ve been given?  It’s rare to find a novel this dark that’s got a sense of humour too.  Easily one of the year’s best.

manhattanbeachManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad is one of those books that makes me excited about the future of fiction.  It was so playful and connected and experimental that almost the only way you could follow something like that up is to do exactly what Egan has done and revisit traditional storytelling.  “With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world.”*

hiddenseeHiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire

Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann’s mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.”*

turtlesTurtles All the Way Down by John Green

Okay. Okay.  This one might not qualify as dark.  But to be fair, I’ll read anything Green writes.  Until recently, the plot of his latest had been a closely guarded secret.  We now know it’s about a 16-year old girl named Aza, her BFF, and their quest to solve the mystery of a “fugitive billionaire” and claim “a hundred-thousand-dollar reward. […] In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.”*

This Thanksgiving let’s all be thankful for the time we get to read.  (To my children, yes, that IS a hint.)  Happy Thanksgiving!  Happy Reading!

-Patricia

*Descriptions provided by the publisher

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Book Awards Season: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Awards Round-up

Awards Season: that wonderful time of year when we get to find all the books that we missed reading from last year, which get added to this year’s to be read pile, which means some of this year’s reading will get pushed to next year, and the cycle repeats…

Anyway, here are some highlights from the awards season for Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror titles published in 2016!

The Hugo Awards:

In case I haven’t raved about it enough, Every Heart a Doorway is heart-breakingly fantastic, and it’s sequel that came out in 2017 – Down Among the Sticks and Bones – is just as good (do I sense next year’s winner?). The Obelisk Gate is book 2 in Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, and while it wasn’t my favourite in the series it is absolutely worth reading because the first book (The Fifth Seasonand the third book (The Stone Sky) are mind-blowingly good. I’ve only read the first in Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga but it didn’t quite grab me in the way I expected it to, as I absolutely adored her Paladin of Souls (which is the book that got me reading fantasy in the first place!) and The Curse of ChalionCan anyone recommend what book to start with, if not the first?

The Nebula Awards:

The Bram Stoker Awards:

  • Superior Achievement in a Novel: The Fisherman, by John Langan
  • Superior Achievement in a First Novel: Haven, by Tom Deady
  • Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel: Snowed, by Maria Alexander

Other Single-Category Awards:

 

Two major awards have not yet been awarded this year, but here are some of the nominees!

worldfantasyawardThe World Fantasy Awards (which just got a shiny new trophy!)

Best Novel Nominees:
Borderline, by Mishell Baker
Roadsouls, by Betsy James
The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin
The Sudden Appearance of Hope, by Claire North
Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff

sunburstawardThe Sunburst Awards (Canada’s SF/FAN/Horror award)

Shortlist Nominees for Adult Fiction:
Spells of Blood and Kin, by Claire Humphrey
The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay
Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel
Necessity, by Jo Walton
Last Year, by Robert Charles Wilson

 

Enjoy madly trying to prioritize your TBR list!  And the reading, of course.
Kat

Book Awards Season is (finally) here!!!

Some of us get excited about our kids going back to school, and some of us get excited about pumpkin spice season.  I’m sure I’m not alone in absolutely adoring fall because it marks the arrival of book award season — that wonderful time of the year when my TBR pile strains beyond all hope of ever reading every book on it — and I love it.

Here are some of the nominated works I hope to read soon:

From the Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist:

truckI Am a Truck by Michelle Winters

Agathe and Réjean Lapointe are about to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary when Réjean’s beloved Chevy Silverado is found abandoned at the side of the road—with no trace of Réjean. As her hope dwindles, Agathe falls in with her spirited coworker, Debbie, who teaches Agathe about rock and roll, and with Martin Bureau, the one man who might know the truth about Réjean’s fate. Set against the landscape of rural Acadia, I Am a Truck is a funny and moving tale about the possibilities and impossibilities of love and loyalty.*

Boy EatingThe Bone Mother by David Demchuk

Three neighbouring villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border are the final refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. Now, on the eve of the war that may eradicate their kind—and with the ruthless Night Police descending upon their sanctuary—they tell their stories and confront their destinies.  Eerie and unsettling like the best fairy tales, these incisor-sharp portraits of ghosts, witches, sirens, and seers—and the mortals who live at their side and in their thrall—will chill your marrow and tear at your heart.*

mindsofwinterMinds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada, about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Both are in search of answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, and Fay for her vanished grandfather. Driving Fay into town from the airport on a freezing January night, Nelson reveals a folder left behind by his brother. An image catches Fay’s eye: a clock she has seen before. Soon Fay and Nelson realize that their relatives have an extraordinary and historic connection — a secret share in one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of polar expedition.*

(I’ve read only one of the longlist, Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster and I highly recommend it for its refreshing blend of gritty and magic realism.)

From the Man Booker Prize Shortlist:

lincolnLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo  is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?*

(I’ve read two of the remaining five on the shortlist — Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves.  I’m partway through a third, Paul Auster’s (possibly pointless but nonetheless enjoyable) 4 3 2 1.  So far my money is on Hamid to take the prize; I’d go for the audiobook read by the author.)

From the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers Literature:

marrowthievesThe Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.*

(If you haven’t already read it, please stop reading this post immediately and check out fellow finalist Angie Thomas’ gut wrenching The Hate U GiveIt’s topical, powerfully written, and well worth reading for Starr’s dad’s ideas about Harry Potter alone.)

From the National Book Award Longlist:

naomi kleinNo Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

Remember when it all seemed to be getting better? Before Trump happened? What went wrong, and what can we do about it? Naomi Klein – scourge of brand bullies, disaster capitalists and climate liars – shows us how we got to this surreal and dangerous place, how to stop it getting worse and how, if we keep our heads, we can seize the opportunity to make it better.*

manhattan beachManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.*

pachinkoPachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history.*

I’d love to hear what book award nominees excite you.

Happy stacking! Happy reading!

-Patricia

*Blurbs provided by publishers.

Kat’s Fall Picks 2017

September

provenanceProvenance, by Ann Leckie

Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, which started with Ancillary Justice, was a breath of fresh air in sci-fi, and earned her Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. This novel, set in the same universe as the Radch trilogy,  follows Ingray – a power-driven woman seeking to gain status by regaining artifacts priceless to her people, but who soon finds herself and her world embroiled in an interstellar conflict which threatens her plans and her future.

 

demigods Demi-Gods, by Eliza Robertson

This is a debut novel from a Canadian writer, complete with a British Columbia setting. It’s a coming of age novel which begins in 1950 and follows the then-9-year-old Willa through adolescence to adulthood. In 1950 she is introduced to her new step-brothers for the first time, and her relationship with the younger of the two – Patrick – becomes increasingly damaging, despite how seemingly drawn to him she is.  The blurb on the cover – “A little bit dark. A little bit weird” – sums it up well, as Robertson creates a wonderfully pervasive sense of menace and dread whenever Patrick appears.

 

thissideofsad This Side of Sad, by Karen Smythe

Karen Smythe has previously written on elegies and mourning in both non-fiction and short-story format. In this first novel she begins with the death of a man, although whether his death was suicide or an accident is a mystery.  After his death, his widow begins a period of self-inquiry, questioning both her identify and her own capacity for love. Also a large part of me wanting to read that is that I’m just intrigued by that cover…

 

October

thecoreThe Core, by Peter V. Brett

This is the title I’m most excited about for the Fall, as it finally wraps up one of my favourite current fantasy series, which started back in 2008 with The Warded Man.  The series’ main draws for me are the superb world building, the unique system of magic, and the excellent ensemble cast of characters, each of whom the story follows from childhood to adulthood, while realistically developing their skills and powers, as well as their motivations.  If you need something to tide you over in between Game of Thrones seasons and books then pick this one up – it now also has the benefit of now being complete in 5 books.

 

plagueofgiantsA Plague of Giants, by Kevin Hearne

The first few books of Kevin Hearne’s previous series, The Iron Druid Chronicles, are among my favourite funny sci-fi/fantasy books, but after 8 books I have to confess some fatigue with it so I’m excited that he has a new series coming out. Here Hearne has switched from urban to high fantasy, and rather than drawing from world mythologies he has done his own world-building here, complete with a really interesting system of magic and an excellent cast of characters.

 

Generations, by Flavia Bondigenerations

This graphic novel follows a young man, Matteo, as returns home from three years in Milan after falling out with his father over his relationship with a man. To avoid his father, Matteo stays with his grandmother, who already lives with his three aunts and cousin, while he decides what to do with his life. This is a moving, realistic story exploring acceptance, generation gaps, and coming-of-age, ultimately demonstrating that the events that pull a family together can be stronger than the issues that pull them apart.

 

November

artemisArtemis, by Andy Weir

Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, was an excellent piece of straightforward, realistic yet highly approachable science-fiction. Artemis is much in the same vein, although this time his setting is an established colony on the moon. The protagonist here, Jazz Bashara, is a smuggler with ambitions mostly gaining wealth so she can afford more comfortable digs, but when she takes on a job with payday too good to refuse she finds herself embroiled in a struggle for control of Artemis itself.  This is a compulsively readable story with a very well-developed world, and Jazz herself makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining narrator.  If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi and/or caper stories, check this one out.

Enjoy!
Kat

 

NVCL Reads: Set in Vancouver

Be a tourist in your own town by reading a great book set in this great city! Check out these 5 titles that you can find on the shelves at NVCL for your Canada Reads 150 Bingo needs! You’ll discover Vancouver again through the eyes of some amazing authors, and fill out that bingo card while you’re at it!

 

yY, by Marjorie Celona

This the story of Shannon, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the YMCA, swaddled in a dirty grey sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife. She is found moments later by a man who catches a mere glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. All three lives are forever changed by the single decision.

Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures neglect and abuse but then finds stability and love in the home of Miranda, a kind single mother who refuses to let anything ever go to waste. But as Shannon grows, so do the questions inside her. Where is she from? Who is her true family? Why would they abandon her on the day she was born?

 

stanleyparkStanley Park, by Timothy L Taylor

Trained in France, Jeremy Papier, the young Vancouver chef, is becoming known for his unpretentious dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. His restaurant, The Monkey’s Paw Bistro, while struggling financially, is attracting the attention of local foodies, and is not going unnoticed by Dante Beale, owner of a successful coffeehouse chain, Dante’s Inferno. Meanwhile, Jeremy’s father, an eccentric anthropologist, has moved into Stanley Park to better acquaint himself with the homeless and their daily struggles for food, shelter and company. Jeremy’s father also has a strange fascination for a years-old unsolved murder case, known as “The Babes in the Wood” and asks Jeremy to help him research it.

 

gumthiefThe Gum Thief, by Douglas Coupland

The first and only story of love and looming apocalypse set in the aisles of an office supply superstore. In Douglas Coupland’s ingenious novel-sort of a Clerks-meets-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf-we meet Roger, a divorced, middle-aged aisles associate at a Staples outlet, condemned to restocking reams of twenty-lb. bond paper for the rest of his life. And then there’s Roger’s co-worker Bethany, who’s at the end of her Goth phase, and young enough to be looking at fifty more years of sorting the red pens from the blue in Aisle Six. One day, Bethany comes across Roger’s notebook in the staff room. When she opens it up, she discovers that this old guy she’s never considered as quite human is writing mock diary entries pretending to be her-and spookily, he is getting her right. She also learns he has a tragedy in his past-and suddenly he no longer seems like just a paper-stocking robot with a name tag.

 

allthatmattersAll that matters, by Wayson Choy

Kiam-Kim is three years old when he arrives by ship at Gold Mountain with his father and his grandmother, Poh-Poh. From his earliest years, Kiam-Kim is deeply conscious of his responsibility to maintain the family’s honor and to set an example for his younger siblings. However, his life is increasingly complicated by his burgeoning awareness of the world outside Vancouver’s Chinatown.

 

saltfishgirlSalt Fish Girl, by Larissa Lai

Salt Fish Girl is the mesmerizing tale of an ageless female character who shifts shape and form through time and place. Told in the beguiling voice of a narrator who is fish, snake, girl, and woman – all of whom must struggle against adversity for survival – the novel is set alternately in nineteenth-century China and in a futuristic Pacific Northwest.

At turns whimsical and wry, Salt Fish Girl intertwines the story of Nu Wa, the shape-shifter, and that of Miranda, a troubled young girl living in the walled city of Serendipity circa 2044. Miranda is haunted by traces of her mother’s glamourous cabaret career, the strange smell of durian fruit that lingers about her, and odd tokens reminiscent of Nu Wa. Could Miranda be infected by the Dreaming Disease that makes the past leak into the present?

– Brie

An Interview with Local Author Lawrence Verigin

seedofcontrolTell us about your book, Seed of Control

Seed of Control is the award winning sequel to Dark Seed. In Seed of Control, ex-journalist, Nick Barnes and his group figure out that the plot they discovered in Dark Seed is only a part of a much bigger plan, devised by some of the most powerful men in the world. These men and their corporations see themselves as the stewards of humanity and know what’s best for the world. However, they are self-serving and operate on power and greed.

Nick, with the help of scientists and an ex-member of the controlling society do everything they can to prove the plot to…(don’t want to give away the story)…while being mercilessly pursued by the security team of the power elite.

The story takes the reader from San Francisco, to Seattle and then onto Vancouver and Deep Cove. From there they have to escape to Paris and end up in Burford, England.

The third book in the trilogy, Beyond Control, will be published in the fall of 2018.

Lawrence VeriginWhy do you write?

I began writing a book as something I wanted to complete off my bucket list. Now I write because I love to create stories from nothing. There is so much satisfaction to be derived from writing and writing and writing, and ending up with a 100,000 word story that didn’t exist before I created it. Then, I really enjoy editing and polishing the manuscript to the best of my ability, at that moment. Also, it’s interesting to see how my writing is progressing with each new book.

In the end it’s gratifying to hear from readers who said they enjoyed the books and get their interpretations.

My goal is to delve into socially relevant subjects in an entertaining, fast paced form, with the hope of giving readers perspective that they may not have had before as to what’s going on.

writingDescribe your first ever piece of writing

I think I was in grade 5 and decided one rainy winter night that I was going to write a book. I wrote a page and a half and realized it was going to be too much work and put it away.

It wasn’t until I was 35 that I decided to learn how to write well enough to publish my work…or fake it to seem like I knew what I’m doing. That took 12 years.

NSWAI’ve read your book.  What should I read next?

I’m assuming you read Dark Seed too and you have to read something before Beyond Control comes out. I would suggest deviating from the best-seller lists and looking for books from local and less known authors. They don’t have the backing of the big publishers (yet), but their stories are quite often just as good and sometimes better.

Savour by Jackie BatemanWhat local authors do you love?

I’m biased to the two authors I was with at the North Shore Writers Festival panel this year – Jackie Bateman and Alexander Boldizar. Also, even though I’m not typically a science fiction reader, I’m currently reading Virtues of War, by Bennett Coles and really enjoying it.

sigmaWhat is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

All of the Sigma thrillers by James Rollins are great. However, so far this year the best books I’ve read are Stillpoint, by Colin Mallard and In Search of Sticks, by Randy Kaneen – both writers from Vancouver Island.

Where can fans find you?

My website is: www.lawrenceverigin.com and my e-mail is: lawrenceverigin@gmail.com

 

Thanks, Lawrence!

If you are a published local author who would like to be interviewed for The Top Shelf, please be in touch!  Email me at plesku@cnv.org

-Patricia

NVCL Reads: Historical Fiction

Historical fiction has the power to transport its readers to other times and other places. From Nova Scotia to Ireland, from the 1600s to the Second World War, Colleen shares some Canadian historical fiction that’s sure to engross you.
brideofnewfranceBride of New France, by Suzanne Desrochers

In 1669, two young Parisian women, Laure and Madeleine, are sent across the Atlantic to New France as filles du roi, or “daughters of the king”. This haunting first novel explores the challenges that a French girl faces coming into womanhood in a brutal time and place. From the moment she arrives, Laure is expected to marry and produce children with a brutish French soldier who can barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, Laure discovers the possibilities of this New World.*

birthhouseThe Birth House, by Ami McKay

This novel is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.  The novel was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.*


wonderThe Wonder: a novel
by Emma Donoghue

A small village in 1850s rural Ireland is baffled by Anna O’Donnell’s fast, which began as a self-inflicted and earnest expression of faith. After weeks of subsisting only on what she calls “manna from heaven,” the story of the “miracle” has reached a fever pitch. Tourists flock in droves to the O’Donnell family’s modest cabin hoping to witness, and an international journalist is sent to cover the sensational story. Enter Lib, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale who is hired to keep watch for two weeks and determine whether or not Anna is a fraud. As Anna deteriorates, Lib finds herself responsible not just for the care of a child, but for getting to the root of why the child may actually be the victim of murder in slow motion.

A magnetic novel written with all the spare and propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, The Wonder works beautifully on many levels—a simple tale of two strangers who will transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil in its many masks.*

wildrose
Wild Rose
, by Sharon Butala

Sophie was a sheltered girl from a well-off Montreal family in the 1880’s when she married hastily and went off to sparsely-populated southern Saskatchewan to begin her married life as a homesteader.  Before long she is abandoned by her husband and desperately struggling to survive with her young son.  Sharon Butala has been writing contemporary novels set on the prairies for over 30 years; this is her first historical novel.
winterseaThe Winter Sea , by Susanna Kearsley (alternate title “Sophia’s Secret)

Writer Carolyn McClelland is staying in a seaside cottage on the east coast of Scotland, where she is working on a book about the attempted Jacobite invasion of 1707.  Inexplicably drawn to Slains Castle, and not so inexplicably drawn to the charming, but somehow familiar, Stuart Keith, Carolyn is soon writing with an unusual speed and imagery which leads her to wonder whether her ‘fictional’ character of Sophia is really so fictional after all.  Carolyn soon realises that she is somehow channelling the memories of her distant relative and that her story has a life of its own.*

nightfallovershanghai
Nightfall Over Shanghai
, by Daniel Kalla

Local emergency doctor Daniel Kalla has written a terrific series about the Jewish community in Shanghai, China.  Starting in The Far Side of The Sky, after fleeing the Nazi takeover in Austria, the Adler family ends up in Japanese-occupied Shanghai to begin a new life.  Shanghai-born Sunny joins their family and through the two sequels, Rising Sun, Falling Shadow and Nightfall Over Shanghai, they endure loss and hardship through to 1945 when at last they hope to live freely once again.  There is talk of a movie and/or television series based on this trilogy and I can even see an opening for a fourth book.

-Colleen

* from the publisher’s description