Fantasy

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 Fall 2016 Picks

While I’m not quite ready to admit that Fall is actually on the horizon, I’m more than happy to start thinking about what I’ll read during the season. And I’m sure I’ll be ready for some serious reading time once this  foolish attempt to ride my bike up to Whistler is finished on Saturday. So here’s what I’ll be reading while I’m taking a break from my bicycle and letting my poor muscles recover!

September

survivingloganSurviving Logan, by Erik Bjarnason and Cathi Shaw

At 5,959m elevation, Mt. Logan is Canada’s highest peak. In 2005 North Shore Rescue put together a team of experienced mountaineers and search-and-rescue personnel to tackle the summit. The expedition started out with good weather, but it quickly took a dangerous downturn, trapping three members of the team on the mountain. This true story recounts their efforts to survive the storm as conditions turned from bad to worse, to near tragic. There are many great mountaineering books out there with amazing stories of survival, but I’m really looking forward to reading one featuring local figures.

summerlongSummerlong, by Peter S. Beagle

In his first novel since 1999, the author of the beloved The Last Unicorn tells the story of a longtime couple who take in a young waitress, who in turn begins to inspire development and change in the both of them. This book is being described as mythical fantasy, and even has a Pacific Northwest setting to boot, so this is probably the book I’m most looking forward to this season.

nutshellNutshell, by Ian McEwan

A tale of deceit and murder, told from the point of view of a 9-month-old unborn child. It’s a mix of psychological thriller, mystery comedy, and tragedy, but the narration alone sounds too odd and interesting to pass up!

 

 

October

numberofthingsA Number of Things, by Jane Urquhart

Inspired by Canada’s upcoming sesquicentennial (I did not know that was a word until now… 150 years, for those of you in the same boat as me), Canadian author Jane Urquhart tells the stories behind 50 Canadian objects, including a particular cherry tree, an artist’s shoe, a tea doll, and a royal cowcatcher. I had to look up what several of the items actually were (including the cow catcher… apparently my train-knowledge is lacking), so this promises to be an informative read made poetic by Urquhart’s always beautiful prose.

cyclistoutinthecoldThe Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold, by Tim Moore

Travel writer Tim Moore has previously attempted to cycle the Giro d’Italia route on a period bike while in a period costume, and the Tour de France route complete with the requisite cheating and excessive wine-drinking. Continuing to display a complete lack of self-preservation, he has most recently spent three months cycling the 9,000 km route of the old Iron Curtain on a two-geared East German shopping bike. Moore’s books are always worth a read, and are a great mix of travelogue, history, and amusement at someone else’s self-inflicted pain.

appetitesAppetites, by Anthony Bourdain

In chef and travel writer Anthony Bourdain’s latest, he offers a collection of his personal favourites, both from home and from his travelling years of sampling food from all over the world. It contains recipes that Bourdain thinks everyone should know how to cook,  but also promises to “terrify your guests”… apparently that’s “with your culinary efficiency”, but I’m choosing to take it out of context. Especially since the cover itself is a bit on the terrifying side.

crosstalkCrosstalk, by Connie Willis

In Crosstalk, Science Fiction writer Connie Willis takes social media and communication to an extreme with a near-future world where couples can actually get a procedure increase empathy between them. The procedure is designed to help with emotional connection and communication, because nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?

 

November

fateofthetearlingThe Fate of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

This is the conclusion of the Tearling Trilogy. Its first volume (The Queen of the Tearlingwas fairly standard fantasy, but in a surprising move the second volume (The Invasion of the Tearling) began crossing over into dystopian sci-fi, and after that I can’t wait to see how Johansen is going to tie it all together. But the real strength of this series has always been the wholly believable development of Kelsea’s character, from awkward, insecure teenager to strong monarch determined to save her people, so I would definitely recommend checking out the series – it’s unique, with a steady, engaging plot that gives equal weight to its characters and its action.

willfulchildWillful Child: The Wrath of Betty, by Steven Erikson

I’m always looking for new books to add to my funny sci-fi & fantasy list (which is still a work in progress), and I’m definitely on the Trekkie-spectrum, so I have high hopes for enjoyable silliness on this series. This is the sequel to 2015’s Willful Child, a spoof on the whole exploring the galaxy Star Trek type genre, which sold me with the tagline “Bravely going where they really shouldn’t”. I’ll be saving this one for a really rainy day when I need a laugh.

 

What are you reading this season? You know, when it arrives. Which definitely isn’t quite yet.

– Kat

Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Awards Roundup

The 2016 Hugo Award winners were announced on the weekend, and I was really happy to see that, despite the ongoing drama of the Sad / Rabid Puppies and their efforts to return science fiction to its “traditional” roots, the Hugos are continuing to reward innovative and diverse storytelling. I’m also stoked that my two favourite novels from 2015 have both picked up awards (and two of the most prestigious ones to boot!) – Naomi Novik’s Uprooted won the Nebula, and N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season won the Hugo. I wouldn’t have been able to pick one over the other, so I’m glad they were both recognized.

For those unfamiliar with the major awards in this multi-faceted genre, here’s a roundup of some of the major ones, and the winners/nominees for 2016 so far!


The Hugo Awards 

hugoawardFirst awarded in 1953, the Hugos are given by the World Science Fiction Society. Anyone can actually nominate and vote on the Hugos by becoming a Worldcon member for the coming year. There are currently 14 categories, including best novel, best novella, best novelette, best short story, best graphic story, best dramatic presentation (long and short). See http://www.thehugoawards.org/ for the full list.

2016 Winners Include:

 

The Nebula Awards

nebulaEstablished in 1965, the Nebulas are presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and honour the best works of science fiction or fantasy published in the United States. There are 6 categories: best novel, best novella, best novelette, best short story, the Ray Bradbury award for outstanding dramatic presentation, and the Andre Norton award for young adult science fiction and fantasy. See http://www.sfwa.org/ for more.

2016 Winners Include:

  • Best Novel: Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
  • Best Novella: Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Andre Norton Award: Updraft, by Fran Wilde

 

The Bram Stoker Awards

stokerawardPresented by the Horror Writer’s Association, this has been awarded for “superior achievement” (rather than “best”) in horror and dark fantasy writing since 1987. There are currently 11 categories, including: novel, first novel, short fiction, long fiction, and young adult fiction. More information – and a better look at their amazing trophy – here: http://horror.org/awards/stokers.htm

2016 Winners Include:

 

The Philip K. Dick Award

philipkdickThis award is given to the single best original paperback of the year, published the US. It’s a joint effort, currently presented by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, The Philip K. Dick Trust, and the Northwest Science Fiction Society, and was first presented in 1982. See http://www.philipkdickaward.org/ for more info.

2016 Winner: Apex, by Ramez Naam

And there are still a few of the major awards still to be distributed this year:

The World Fantasy Awards 

worldfantasyawardFirst presented in 1975, the World Fantasy Awards are given out for the best fantasy fiction by the World Fantasy Convention. Up until this year the trophy was a bust of a caricatured H.P. Lovecraft, but it has now been retired due to complaints that Lovecraft, while an important influence on the genre, cannot be representative of the entire genre due to his overt racism. No word on what the new trophy will be, although the World Fantasy Convention finished receiving submissions in April. The 2016 winners will announced in late October, and there are 10 categories. Read more at http://www.worldfantasy.org/

2016 Best Novel Nominees:

 

The Arthur C. Clarke Award

arthurcclarke
This is a British award, given to the best science fiction novel published in the UK (although there’s no restriction on the author’s nationality, as long as the book was published in the UK – Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was the first winner). It was established in 1987, and, like the Philip K. Dick, is a single-category award. Read more at https://www.clarkeaward.com/

2016 Nominees:

 

Sunburst Awards 

sunburstawardCanada’s own award for “excellence in Canadian Literature of the fantastic,”
this is a juried award for speculative fiction in 3 categories: adult, young adult, and short stories. It has been distributed since 2001. Find out more at http://www.sunburstaward.org/

2016 Shortlist Nominees for Adult Fiction:

 

I know this list of awards is woefully incomplete, so for a great run-down of more of the sf/fan/horror awards out there, check out http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/

Any ideas for 2017’s nominees yet?

– Kat

Treating Your Game of Thrones Withdrawal

So now that I have a literary plan in place for treating my husband’s upcoming Tour de France withdrawal, I’ll now turn towards my own current source of withdrawal – the end of the Game of Thrones season.  Here’s a list of the books and series that I’ll be reading/re-reading while waiting for 2017’s season to come!

 

halfaking halfworld halfwar
The Shattered Sea Trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie

If it’s the tales of revenge and all those morally grey characters in Game of Thrones that appeal to you, give Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy a shot. It follows Yarvi, crippled from birth and seen as only “half a man” in the eyes of his father (that sounds familiar…), on an epic quest – first for survival and then for revenge – which threatens to plunge the entire world into war.  I warn you though, it’s addictive, so be prepared to lose some sleep.  This series is complete, so there’s no worry about long waits between installments.

 

lamora1 lamora2 lamora3 lamora4
The Gentlemen Bastards Sequence, by Scott Lynch

If it’s the witty dialogue and roguish characters that suit your fancy, I highly recommend Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series. Like GoT it starts off very low-magic, at least for a fantasy world. The story follows Locke Lamora from his childhood in a gang of child-thieves – who gets kicked out for liking to steal too much (and from the wrong people) – through his development into a highly accomplished con artist. With the Gentlemen Bastards, they pull off incredibly complex, long-term cons in order to steal from the rich and then keep it all for themselves.  This series offers a great mix of humour, fantasy, and action that I will happily re-read again and again. Another warning for this one though: the series isn’t complete yet, and it’s always long – but worthwhile – wait for new installments.

 

kingdoms1 kingdoms2 kingdoms3
The Inheritance Trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin

If it’s GoT’s issues of inheritance and dangerous family politics that are up your alley, then check out Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy. The first book follows Yeine, granddaughter to the head of this world’s ruling family, who, despite her mother abandoning her position to be with her father, suddenly finds herself named the heir. She’s then thrust into a dangerous political situation that’s made even more deadly by the machinations of the gods that her family has had enslaved for generations, and by the secrets of her own past that even she was unaware of.  The next two books each follow other characters in the same world, and all told the series spans 400 years. It’s challenging, unique, and thoroughly engrossing.

roses
Dragons and zombies aside, Game of Thrones is loosely based on the War of the Roses, fought over the English throne from 1455-1485 between the houses of York and Lancaster. So, if you’re looking for something outside the fantasy genre that will still help fill the GoT void, check out some of these other titles about or based on the historical events.

 

lancaster bloodsisters
Lancaster Against York, by Trevor Royle and Blood Sisters, by Sarah Gristwood

If you’d like some non-fiction, try Royle and Gristwood’s books. Like Game of Thrones, the War of the Roses is an epic story, with a huge cast, shifting allegiances, multiple monarchs, and even a great historical mystery. Lancaster Against York does an excellent job of clearly laying out all the events and players, particularly each of the 6 kings who ruled during the conflict. Blood Sisters instead focuses on the 7 most influential women during this period, who in many cases were every bit as calculating and ruthless as their male counterparts.

 

roses1 roses2 roses3 roses4
Wars of the Roses Series, by Conn Iggulden

This is an historical fiction series, following the events of the War of the Roses from the death of Henry V and the coronation of the young, frail Henry VI, through the battles and political intrigue, to the founding of the Tudor dynasty that finally ended the war.  Try this one if you’re looking for close-to-accurate historical fiction.

 

cousins1 cousins2 cousins3 cousins4 cousins5 cousins6
The Cousins’ War Series, by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory plays it looser in terms of historical accuracy with the Cousins’ War series, but it’s nevertheless extremely enjoyable. Her series also follows the events of the War of the Roses, but from the point of view of the women involved. The series as listed here is in publication order, but many reader’s recommend starting with The Lady of the Rivers as its events are chronologically the earliest.

I hope that helps with your withdrawal, and let us know what you’re reading to pass the time between seasons!

– Kat

 

 

 

 

 

Kat’s Summer Picks, 2016

I think I’m in the minority when it comes to my idea of what summer reads should be. This is actually the time of year when I seem to want to start looking for some big epic books. Winter’s when I tend to need the lighter reads. It must have something to do with my aversion to heat and beaches…  But I’ve tried for a mix this time around, so there’s certainly some lighter stuff in here. But it’s the big ones I’m really looking forward to.

lastcallnightshadeLast Call at the Nightshade Lounge, by Paul Krueger*

Of course cocktails have a certain type of magic to them, but Krueger’s novel takes that much more literally, featuring bartenders whose cocktails pack an actual magical punch, allowing them to be the front line in humanity’s defense against demon incursions. Sounds silly? Ok, maybe. A bit. But it’s lots of fun.  I particularly liked that each chapter featured a cocktail recipe with the magical, and often very funny, “history” of the drink and its ingredients. Very entertaining! (June)

magicbitterMagic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie M. Holmberg

Another on consumable magic, although this one is baked goods. The protagonist, Marie, is a baker who can infuse her confections with emotion, which then get passed on to whoever eats them. She’s also an amnesiac, and can only remember her own name. The story is of her journey, being captured and sold during a war, and of re-discovering some of her past, and the consequences of that past. There are some light elements to it, but it also delivers on the bitter and sweet promises from its title too.  (June)

ageofmythAge of Myth, by Michael J. Sullivan

One of my favourite fantasy themes is the interaction between the world’s Gods and mortals. Age of Myth is the first in a new series, and its premise begins with a god dying by human hands for the first time, and as a result, humanity is on the brink of annihilation. I haven’t read Sullivan before, but his previous series, The Riyria Chronicles gets great reviews, so I have high hopes for a new series I can obsess over. (June)

barkskinsBarkskins, by Annie Proulx

I may have mentioned on a few occasions that I like big books, and while Barkskins isn’t a fantasy novel, it sounds like Annie Proulx’s long-awaited new title fits big book bill! Coming in at over 700 pages long, it begins with two penniless Frenchmen in New France, and then covers 300 years of their descendants as they each work to seize all of the resources they can get, leaving the modern-day generation to face the ecological consequences.  I’ll forgive it for being historical fiction rather than fantasy on the grounds that it sounds pretty awesome. (June)

greenancientlightA Green and Ancient Light, by Frederic S. A. Durbin

While I keep hearing buzz about this book, I’m honestly having some trouble getting a solid description of its plot, other than it taking place during a war – apparently a parallel (world?) to WWII – and about a boy sent to live with his Grandmother.  But it’s being praised with words like timeless, gorgeous, beautiful, and classic, and described as Fairy-tale like, and full of myth, and mystery.  So even though I still don’t really know what it’s about, that’s just making me want to read it more!  (June)

penricsdemonPenric’s Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Bujold’s The Paladin of Souls, second book in the World of the 5 Gods series and 2004 Hugo winner, was really the novel that re-kindled my love affair with Fantasy. I’ve always been intrigued by the systems of magic that fantasy authors create, and at that time I hadn’t come across one before used solely divine magic. Coupled with a middle-aged, female protagonist only recently recovered from a madness-inducing curse, and of course Bujold’s fantastic writing, I was hooked once again. So I’m just a *little* excited that she’s returning to that world with this novella (and another one in the works!), which takes place between the first and second books of the original series. (July)

Anaturalhistoryhell Natural History of Hell, by Jeffrey Ford

This is a collection of short stories, in a range of genres ranging through literary, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and mixed. While thematically the stories all explore wickedness,  Kirkus reviews promises it still has a great mix of creepy-ness, humour, and heart-breaking poignancy. So as far as a summer read goes, it will fit the bill in terms of a short (or at least segmented) read, but only for those of you who still like a little darkness in the summer. (August)

obelisk… and now the one I’m waiting for with barely restrained impatience: 
The Obelisk Gate
, by N.K. Jemisin

The sequel to my (tied for) #1 pick from 2015, The Fifth Season, this second installment in the Broken Earth trilogy picks up where the last one left off. In an Earth so regularly inflicted with natural disasters that its survivors have come to tell the seasons by whatever environmental catastrophe began them, it seems as if this latest event may trigger the end. While Essun continues to search for her missing daughter, she must also now contend with her world-destroying returned former mentor, who wishes to train her as his successor. I’m intrigued as to how (or whether) Jemisin will continue to pull off the three vastly different POV narrators in this book as she did in the first. (August)

Well, that should keep me busy all summer! What about you? What’s on your list?
* Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced read copy!

Happy summer reading, whether it be light or heavy!
Kat

Mikale’s Summer Picks

It seems fitting that one of the last tasks I’ve left myself to do before going on vacation is to assemble my top literary picks for summer.  Let me begin by stating that I take my summer reads very seriously, in the way that under no circumstances should summer reads be too serious. While I always love a good dystopic-fantasy,  as stated in this hilarious New Yorker “think-piece” from 2014, “my ideal summer novel is delicately balanced on the edge of frivolity….The drama should feel VERY real to the characters but be very silly in contrast to anything you read in the world-news section of the New York Times.” In those dark, brooding rainy West Coast winter nights I love to curl up and be challenged by a serious piece of literature, but…. poolside? Not so much.

And so, here we go… Summer 2016.

I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro Notaro

Ok so maybe this one is going to be a bit too dark for my aforementioned “Summer Reads Rules of Conduct”, however I recently heard Tig Notaro tell a story about repeatedly meeting 80’s pop star Taylor Dayne on This American Life  and found myself laughing so hard on my run that I had to pull over to breathe properly, so I have faith there will be balance.

Her new book talks about a span of only four months in 2012 where Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She then took her grief onstage to become one of the most intimate, and startling stand-ups out there today. For more information on her story, and the way her comedy has changed since that fateful period of time, I highly recommend checking out this great interview she recently gave with The Guardian. 

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

A beach-read of a different sort of variety…..Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Dennis- Benn uncovers a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. Set at an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.

Heroes From The Frontier by David Eggers heroeofthefrontier

I’m an unabashed Dave Eggers fan and will basically read anything he publishes. While his storylines may not always be as tight as they could be, Egger’s breezy writing-style is both punchy and compelling, and his novels (The Circle, and A Hologram for the King) consistently tackle complex ideas like online privacy and economic collapse in an accesible, and entertaining fashion . His new novel is about a mother and her two young children on a journey through an Alaskan wilderness that is plagued by wildfires and a uniquely American madness.

 

mandiblesThe Mandibles; A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver

Set in a not-too distant future Brooklyn, The Mandibles breaks down the struggles of one upper-middle class family as they cope with extreme water and food shortage, and general societal meltdown. Blending satire and parable with today’s headlines, Shriver creates a terrifying look into the not to distance future.

 

The Girls by Emma Cline girls.jpg

In this remarkable debut novel , the obsession with 1960s California cults comes to horrifying and electrifying life. While cults usually orbit charismatic men, Cline’s protagonist is teenage Evie, whose attraction to impossible-to-resist cool girls leads to her fate. An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong.
.

modernloversModern Lovers by Emma Straub

For fans of The Vacationers, comes Straub’s latest hit which promises to deliver sympathetic, well-developed characters and a story filled with humour and heartache.

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Happy reading!

 

-Mikale

 

 

 

 

Patricia’s 2016 Summer Picks

wantallthebooksThis summer I want to read all the books, don’t you?  ‘Spoiled for choice’ doesn’t even begin to describe the new releases out this season (…which is how a list of 6 titles turned blossomed into the 8 10 12-strong list you see before you). Whether you are looking for something heart warming or spine chilling, summer 2016 has you covered.  Here’s a small fraction of the books I’ll be devouring:

Cuddled Up With the Kids

harrypotterAt the risk of stating the obvious the book of summer 2016 is a script for a play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and IIPicking up nineteen years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the play focuses on Harry’s son, Albus.  I know the risk of disappointment is always great when expectations run this high, but it’s Harry Potter, so it’s bound to be lifechanging, right? (July)

furthermoreAlice in Wonderland fans will want to check out Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore.  In this re-vision of the Alice narrative, Alice is a 12-year old girl whose father has mysteriously disappeared.  She enlists the help of her frenemy Oliver to venture into the land of Furthermore and bring her father home. (August)

With a Flashlight Under the Covers

watchYou’re never too old to stay up too late eagerly turning pages to find out how the story ends.  For years Stephen King has been my go to late night reading buddy.  This summer he offers us End of Watch, the conclusion to the Bill Hodges trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes.  Hodges once again faces off against Brady Hartsfield who has developed unforeseen powers thanks to an experimental drug.  (June)

devilsrockI was so blown away by Paul Tremblay’s Stoker award-winning A Head Full of Ghosts that I can’t wait to get my hands on his latest, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock*Ghosts did a marvellous job of walking the line between realistic drama and supernatural thriller partly because Tremblay revels in his characters’ unreliability.  Devil’s Rock promises more of the same with the missing of a teenage boy Tommy, and the promise of finding him relying on the lies and half-truths told by the friends he was with before he disappeared. (June)

With a Box of Tissues

lilyHere’s one that’s perfect for fans of Garth Stein’s heartwarming The Art of Racing in the Rain.  And perfect for dog lovers.  And fans of quirky fiction like The Storied Life of AJ Fikry or The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  Lily and the Octopus* by Steven Rowley tells the story of singleton Ted Flask, and his furbaby Lily.  As for the octopus, you’ll have to read it to find out more…   (June)

With a Highlighter

homegoingThese days my Litsy account is non-stop quotes from Yaa Gyasi’s  Homegoing*, a sprawling family story that starts in 18th century Ghana with two sisters: one who marries a British governor and lives in a castle, and one who is forced into slavery.  It’s the kind of book you put down every few pages just to savour the writing properly.  My favourite quote so far: “Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you.  Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.” Literary tattoo anyone? (June)

With a Fruity Drink in the Sun

nineSooner or later we all need something frivolous and fun.  I’m looking forward to dipping into Nine Women, One Dress*a novel about an LBD in NYC and the women who buy, return, and borrow it from Bloomingdale’s (July)– and Hadley Freeman’s Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies* — because I quite simply am still not over Molly Ringwald, Baby, or Buttercup (June).  If I’m blessed enough to need a third fruity drink book, I choose Danika Stone’s All The Feels, a YA title that celebrates geek fandom. (June)

 With a Fan (When It’s Just Too Hot)

sunlightWhen it’s too hot to move, I recommend reading about the cold.  This summer I’ll be heading to Clachan Falls, November 2020.  Jenni Fagan’s post-apocalyptic The Sunlight Pilgrims* tells the story of an Earth with three suns, melting polar ice caps, and a temperature of -40C (in England!?!).  Trust me, when it’s scorching out, this one will hit the spot.  It’s a joyful novel about how we adapt and survive.  (July)

Wherever, Whenever

spellsMy final two picks are books I’m so excited to read that I’ll dive right in wherever, whenever.  Emma Cline’s debut The Girls* is a coming-of-age story that will get under your skin with its examination of the intensity of female friendships framed by a Manson-like cult.

Toronto! Witches! Russian folklore!  Family relationships!  Shapeshifters!  Claire Humphrey’s debut The Spells of Blood and Kin has it all, and I want in. Now, please.

What are you planning to read this summer?

-Patricia

*Thanks to NetGalley and Edelweiss for ARCs of the starred titles — much appreciated!