Fiction

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

 

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

NVCL Reads: Number in the Title

To help with another one of our trickier categories in the #NVCLreads Canada 150 bingo contest, here are some selections you could use for the #NVCLreadsNumber slot!

15dogsFifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis

In this 2015 Giller Prize winner, the gods Apollo and Hermes make a bet  in a bar:  Apollo claims that if they grant human consciousness to 15 dogs each and every one of them will be even more unhappy than humans are. If even one of the dogs dies happy then Hermes wins.  So of course you have to steel yourself for the fact that all these dogs are going to die, but it’s a brilliant, moving read and completely worth it. Just make sure you have some tissues handy!

This could alternately be used in the #NVCLreadsWinner category!

playeronePlayer One, by Douglas Coupland

In his 2010 CBC Massey Lectures acclaimed novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion and macroeconomics and the afterlife in the form of a novel – a 5-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster.*

 

numberofthings

A Number of Things, by Jane Urquhart

Ok, I know I’m obeying the letter of the law more than the spirit here, but technically I think this counts as it literally has “A Number” in its title, and for good measure it does have an actual number in the sub-title. (Ok, Patricia is rolling her eyes at me now, so moving on…). Anyway, I think this title was made for this contest – it was written by Urquhart in celebration of Canada’s 150, and in it she chooses 50 uniquely Canadian objects and tells their stories.

For Teens…

ruleof3The Rule of Thre3, by Eric Walters

The first of a trilogy about one suburban neighbourhood’s existence after a global blackout, which has shut down everything from cell phones to basic utilities to computer-chip dependent vehicles. As resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends, sixteen-year-old Adam’s neighbourhood must band together for protection, and having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door suddenly become keys to survival.*

moonatnineMoon at Nine, by Deborah Ellis

From the award-winning author of Parvana’s Journey, this 2016 title is based on interviews with a young woman forced to flee Iran because of her sexual orientation. It follows fifteen-year-old Farrin who has grown up with secrets: ten years after the overthrow of the Shah, her aristocratic mother is still working against Iran’s conservative revolutionary government. But when Farrin befriends Sadira, the intriguing and outgoing new student at her school for gifted girls, her own new secret is even more dangerous. Because the girls discover their relationship is more than just a friendship—and in Iran, being gay is punishable by death.*

juvie3

The Juvie Three, by Gordon Korman

Gecko, Terence, and Ajay are serving time in juvenile detention centers until they get a second chance. Douglas Healy, a former juvenile delinquent himself, takes them into his halfway house, hoping to make a difference in their lives. One night there is a scuffle, and Healy is accidentally knocked unconscious. When he awakes in the hospital, he has no memory of them or of the halfway house. Afraid of being sent back to Juvie, the guys hatch a crazy scheme to continue on as if the group leader never left.*  Korman does an excellent job in this novel of balancing what could otherwise be weighty topics with his trademark humour and amusing antics.

 

 

And for the Tweens and Kids, 

sevenmagpiesThe Seven Magpies, by Monica Hughes (novel)

In somewhat of a departure for Hughes, who usually writes science fiction, this novel blends mystery, fantasy, Celtic mythology, and boarding school stories.  Set during World War II, Maureen Frazer’s father has been sent to the front, her mother is helping with the war effort, and Maureen is shipped off to the Logan Academy for Young Ladies, a remote but safe boarding school in Scotland. There she finds that the girls have a secret society, called the Seven Magpies. When Maureen herself falls under the spell of a strange standing stone, she begins to understand what’s making her schoolmates seem so strange and then she discovers what the real danger is. A magical story of what may happen when teenagers tamper with the ancient power of the Celts.*

 

myarctic123My Arctic 1, 2, 3, by Michael Kusugak (picture book)

Explore Michael Kusugak’s world of animals and adventure in the Arctic Circle! Discover counting and creatures, and learn who’s predator and who’s prey. Witness five Arctic foxes hunting six furry siksiks. Then watch seven fishermen catch eight Arctic char. Numbers explored include 1 to 10, 20, 100 and even 1,000,000 (millions of berries ripen in the fall). Each scene, rendered in Vladyana Krykorka’s breathtaking paintings, is awash in Arctic colors and includes the depicted number in English and Inuktitut.*

This could alternately be used in the #NVCLreadsFirstNations or #NVCLreadsArctic categories!

 

* Description from publisher

NVCL Reads: Canadian Classic

There are so many Canadian classics you could use for the #NVCLreads Canada 150 Bingo contest, how do you choose? Fortunately our Web Specialist David has shared his picks for this category with a great mix of older and modern classics:

twosolitudesTwo Solitudes, by Hugh Maclennan (1945)

Two Solitudes is a multi-generational novel set in Montreal and rural Quebec between World Wars I and II. The story focuses primarily on the fortunes of the French Tallard family. Athanase, the family patriarch, is comfortable in his culture, but his younger English wife struggles to feel accepted in the small town in which they live. Their eldest son, Marius, blames all his problems on the English while Paul, the youngest son, falls in love with an English woman, Heather, and moves back and forth uncomfortably and yet with optimism for a better future, between the two cultures. Hugh Maclennan’s classic masterpiece won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Fiction in 1945, and offers insights into the Canadian psyche that remain relevant today.

 

whohasseenthewind

Who Has Seen the Wind, by W.O. Mitchell (1947)

Brian O’Connall lives in Saskatchewan with his parents, younger brother, strict Scottish grandmother, and the family dog. Described by one reviewer as an “Anne of Green Gables of the prairies”, the book doesn’t have a traditional narrative plot. Instead it’s a series of vignettes from young Brian’s life, and we see him at age four, then six, then eight, and finally at age eleven.  The main theme running through the book is a special feeling that Brian has, one associated with large themes like God and death, and often brought on by the prairie wind: “when it washed through poplar leaves, when it set telephone wires humming and twanging down an empty prairie road, when it ruffled the feather on one of Sherry’s roosters standing forlorn in a bare yard […] always, he noted, the feeling was most exquisite upon the prairie or when the wind blew”.

 

stoneangelThe Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence (1964)

The Stone Angel tells the story of Hagar Shipley. Set in fictional Manawaka, Manitoba, the novel contains a present-day (i.e. 1960’s) narrative in which Hagar – now 90 and full of regret over her joyless and difficult life – is fighting with her son, who wishes to put her in a nursing home. The remainder of the novel looks back into the past and tells Hagar’s story. Toronto Review of Books describes Hagar as “one of the few great and fully realized characters of Canadian literature”. Laurence’s prose is exquisite: a book to read slowly and savour.

 

fifthbusinessFifth Business, by Robertson Davies (1970)

The first novel of the Deptford Trilogy, Fifth Business is considered by some to be the witty and erudite Davies’ finest novel. Dunstan Ramsay has recently retired from a career as a schoolteacher, and is insulted by the lukewarm send-off he has been given. He writes a letter to the head in which he demonstrates that he has in fact led a full and interesting life; that letter is the novel. Why did Davies call it ‘Fifth Business’? Davies seemed to enjoy pranks and he at first claimed that he had taken the term from an obscure Norwegian literary work, and even added a quote from it at the beginning of his novel. When pressed, he later admitted that his story of the title’s origin was as fictional as the novel itself. This is a rich, delightful and moving work.

 

acomplicatedkindnessA Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews (2004)

To finish up, here’s a modern classic, Miriam Toews’ fine second novel, set in the fictional town of East Village, Manitoba. It’s a very small town, mainly Mennonite, with two industries: a chicken slaughterhouse and an artificial ‘heritage’ village at which Toews’ protagonist, 16-year old Nomi Nickel, churns butter for the tourists. Nomi’s mother and sister have both escaped town, unable to bear their lives in East Village, and when he’s not selling off their remaining furniture, her father spends his days sitting by the roadside watching the cars go by. The mood of the town is largely governed by ‘The Mouth’, Nomi’s pastor and uncle. This novel is a rather bleak but powerful exploration of the life of a teenager in a tight-knit and oppressive community. It won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Fiction in 2004.

 

So there’s our top 5 – what would be the one Canadian Classic that you think everyone should read?

NVCL Reads: Colour in the Title

To help you with one of our trickier #NVCLreads Canada 150 Bingo contest categories, here are our picks for Canadian books with a colour in the title!

 

Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden (2008)throughblackspruce

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.*

As a Giller Prize winner, Through Black Spruce could alternately be used for #NVCLreadsWinner

 

blackberrysweetjuice

Black Berry, Sweet Juice, by Lawrence Hill (2001)

In Black Berry, Sweet Juice, Book of Negroes and The Illegal author Lawrence Hill movingly reveals his struggle to understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rights activist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, he is imbued with lingering memories and offers a unique perspective. In a satirical yet serious tone, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity – an especially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him as neither black nor white.*

 

orangefish

The Orange Fish, by Carol Shields (1989)

Emerging from these twelve beautifully articulated stories are portraits of men and women whose affairs and recoveries in life take us into worlds that are both new and yet unnervingly familiar. A smile of recognition and a shock of surprise await readers of these finely crafted stories. From the magical orange fish itself — enigmatic and without age — to holiday reunions; from the passions and pains of lovers and friends to the moving uncertainty of a Parisian vacation, this exquisite collection is bound to delight and enchant Carol Shields’ fans everywhere.*

bluebeardseggBluebeard’s Egg, by Margaret Atwood (1983)

In this acclaimed collection of twelve stories, Margaret Atwood probes the territory of childhood memories and the casual cruelty men and women inflict upon each other and themselves. She looks behind the familiar world of family summers at remote lakes, ordinary lives, and unexpected loves, and she unearths profound truths. A melancholy, teenage love is swept away by a Canadian hurricane, while a tired, middle-aged affection is rekindled by the spectacle of rare Jamaican birds; a potter tries to come to terms with the group of poets who so smother her that she is driven into the arms of her accountant; and, in the title story, the Bluebeard legend is retold as an ironic tale of marital deception.*

Bluebeard’s Egg could alternately be used as an #NVCLreadsMargaret

 

greengrassGreen Grass, Running Water, by Thomas King (1993)

Strong, Sassy women and hard-luck hardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by Cherokee author Thomas King. Alberta is a university professor who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby but no husband; Lionel is forty and still sells televisions for a patronizing boss; Eli and his log cabin stand in the way of a profitable dam project. These three—and others—are coming to the Blackfoot reservation for the Sun Dance and there they will encounter four Indian elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote—and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again…*

Green Grass, Running Water could alternately be used for the #NVCLreadsFirstNations category

And for the Kids:

bluehippopotamusThe Blue Hippopotamus, by Phoebe Gilman (picture book)

A young hippo falls madly in love with an Egyptian princess. Desperate to be with her, the hippo asks a magician to change him into “something she could love.” The magician reveals that he’s unable turn a hippo into a human, but can turn him into a toy, and he grants the hippo the power to turn himself back into his real self whenever he chooses. The excited hippo accepts this offer, and becomes the princess’s new toy – but will this be enough?*

 

redisbestRed is Best, by Kathy Stinson (picture book)

First published in 1982, Red is Best is not just a Canadian classic, but an overall children’s classic about a child’s insistence that everything is better in red – stocking, mittens, jackets, cups, and most definitely boots.

 

silverwingSilverwing, by Kenneth Oppel (novel)

A relatively recent classic but a classic nonetheless, Silverwing is the story of Shade, a young Silverwing bat. He’s the runt of his colony, but he’s determined to prove himself on the long, dangerous winter migration to Hibernaculum, millions of wingbeats to the south. During a fierce storm, he loses the others and soon faces the most incredible journey of his young life.*

 

 

anneofgreengablesAnne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery (novel)

A list of books with colours in the title obviously wouldn’t be complete without this Canadian icon. Also, it was first published in 1908 so this classic Canadian book will be 100 next year! What better time to revisit it?

 

 

Happy (and colourful!) summer reading!
– Kat

 

* descriptions from the publisher