John Green

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

 

 

 

 

 

TFIOS: It’s only a month away

faultLet the countdown begin! One month from today, Hazel and Gus’ heartbreakingly perfect romance, The Fault in our Stars will finally hit the big screen. (That’s 31 sleeps because May is a longer month, but still…) Here’s what you can do to pass the time until the big day:

Share your favourite TFIOS quotes.  Here are some of ours:  “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”  and “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”  (I’d type more, but I’m tearing up already… Share your favourites below.)

Read John Green‘s other books.  There is much to love about a John Green novel — they’re quirky, they’re honest, they’re abundancebeautifully quotable.  An Abundance of Katherines is a great place to start.

Watch Divergent.  Same two stars, but this time they’re brother and sister.  (Okay, you might want to wait until after you’ve seen them fall in love for this one.)

Obsessively watch the trailer

Become a NerdfighterJohn Green (and his brother, Hank) are also known for their hilarious yet informative YouTube videos.

Borrow and e-reader and read TFIOS.  Why wait for a print copy when you could read the book today?  You can borrow kindles and kobos at the Welcome Desk.  Both come preloaded with over 50 great titles including The Fault in our Stars.

Whatever you do to pass the time until the big day.  Please, don’t forget to be awesome!

–Patricia

Erin Bow speaks out in praise of storytelling

SKCover (3)Erin Bow‘s Sorrow’s Knot is a book that will break your heart.  But first it will get you ensnared in its world:  The only way to keep the dead at bay in Sorrow’s Knot is through magically knotted cords; the women who practise this magic are called binders.  Otter’s mother Willow is a powerful binder and Otter is in line to become one.  Then Willow chooses another apprentice instead, and Otter’s world is torn apart.  A rave review in Quill and Quire asserts “Bow’s prose is powerful, insidious, and heart-squeezing. This book is brutal, beautiful, and not to be missed.”  Without further ado, please enjoy a guest post from the author of Sorrow’s Knot and the award-winning Plain Kate, Erin Bow.  Welcome, Erin!

The fabulous Erin Bow

The fabulous Erin Bow

harryYou see them everywhere these days: grown-ups reading fiction for young adults.

I first remember it when the final Harry Potter book came out: I was in Toronto that day, counting the number of people on the subway with their noses in bright-coloured volumes and — often enough — tears in their eyes.  But these days it’s common to see someone reading the latest John Green or Rainbow Rowell.  There are trend pieces, mostly hand-wringing ones, in places like the New York Times.  Over and over, people ask — what are grown-ups doing reading kids’ books?

I am, admittedly, part of the problem.  I write books for young people.  I write them because they are my favourite thing to read.  Let me try to tell you why.

bloodchocYoung adult fiction is hard to define.  A huge range of voices, genres, and subject matter filed within those two little letters:  YA.  But all those books — from the ones with the werewolves to the ones with the first kiss — do have in common one thing:  they are stories.

The book may be total dreck, but it will always tell a story, because teenagers won’t put up with books that don’t.  Someone made them read The Mill on the Floss recently and now they are just DONE.  Since I like stories above all things, this suits me.

Now, YA books are not the only thing I read, by a long shot — I’m a fan of contemporary poetry.  (I’m also a published poet.) I read a lot of non-fiction.  And I do make like a grown-up and read literary fiction.  But when I do, I am quite often disappointed.  So much literary fiction is beautiful and elegant and intense and — guess what —  sadly lacking in story.

adultreadSo, in trying to explain why I like YA, I made this my new motto:

Love of storytelling and love of language need not be at odds.

In children’s literature, they aren’t.  In YA, you will find stories told without cynicism about stories.  Stories told without the need to deconstruct stories.  Stories with beginnings, middles, and ends.  Stories innocent of modernism.  Stories of all kinds — but always stories.

If you love stories, look to children’s literature.  Even if you’re a grown-up.

And then there were two…

johngreenVote for the winner of NVCL’s Must Read E-read!

It’s been weeks in the making.  Thanks to your votes we’ve narrowed it down to two finalists.  Without further ado, vote now for the winner of NVCL’s Must Read E-read!

Vote now and vote often. 

Best of luck to both books. The winner will be announced in time for our 5th Birthday Celebration on September 21st!

–Patricia

Vote now for NVCL’s Must-Read E-read

You asked and we’ve responded!  Some of you found it complicated to find the Must-Read E-read album on our Facebook page, so going into Phase II of the competition we’ve simplified the voting process.  Simply choose the book (or books) you think deserve to the title Must-Read E-read using the poll below.  The top two titles will continue on to the finals in two weeks.  For those of you who liked the Facebook album, you can continue to vote there as well.

Think you’d like to start reading one of these titles today?  Borrow one of our e-readers!  Who will be the winner?  That’s for you to decide.

Vote for NVCL’s First Ever Must-Read E-read

Which fiction title on our ereaders is the must read of the season?  You tell us!  We are proud to announce our first ever ereading competition:  North Vancouver City Library’s Must Read E-read.  All you have to do is head over to our Facebook page and view the Must Read E-read album.  ‘Like’ the title or titles you’d like to see move forward in the competition.  We’ll eliminate two titles every two weeks until only one remains.  The winner will be announced the week of September 21st – just in time for our 5th Birthday Celebration!

Here are the contenders:

cuckkoThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

What people are saying:  “In short, this is a sharply contemporary novel full of old-fashioned virtues; there is room for improvement in terms of construction, but it is wonderfully fresh and funny. I hope this is the inauguration of a series that lasts long enough to make Harry Potter look like a flash in the pan.” – Jake Kerridge in The Telegraph 

The Fault in our Stars by John Greenfault

What people are saying:  “The Fault in Our Stars is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.” – Lev Grossman (I love you, Lev!), naming it the Fiction Book of the Year for 2012 in Time Magazine (It was my fav too, Lev!)

mountainsAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

What people are saying:And the Mountains Echoed charges its readers for the emotional particles they are, giving them what they want with a narrative facility as great as any blockbusting author alive.” – Alexander Linklater in the Guardian 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonassonold man

What people are saying:Fast-moving and relentlessly sunny, the novel quickly develops into a romp that takes in all the major events of the 20th century.”  — Jane Housham in the Guardian

timebeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

What people are saying:  “This book pays its deepest homage to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, but it also shares much in common with the books of Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Anton Wilson. Like them, Ozeki manages to turn existential conundrums into a playful, joyful and pleasantly mind-bending dialogue between reader and writer. Here’s hoping that this book will find its way to an audience just as excited to participate in it.” – Lucy Silag in the Globe and Mail

The Silver Star by Jeannette Wallssilver-star

What people are saying:It’s annoying how great writing can transcend cliché. “The Silver Star” turns out to be an absorbing, unsentimental tale of childhood, place and emus. Yes, emus.” – Chelsea Cain in the New York Times 

Who will be our first Must Read E-read?  I turn it over to you… In two weeks’ time two titles will be taken out of contention, so vote now!

E-readers Updated!

There are currently 31 holds on one copy of  The Cuckoo’s Calling by, ahem, Robert Galbraith.  We have other paper copies on the way too.  But if you are at all like me…  You.   Simply.   Can’t.  Wait.  We get that.  So The Cuckoo’s Calling is among the 10 new titles available to be read when you borrow our Kobo, Kindle or Sony e-readers.  The others are pretty exciting too.  Take a look:

City of BonesThe Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Artistic teen Clary Fray’s life is turned upside down when she discovers the existence of the Shadowhunters – a race of  demonhunters – in modern day New York City.  This is my favourite teen series with adult appeal AND it’s due out in theatres at the end of August.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kermanorange

Critics are enthused about the new Netflix show, but is the real Piper’s life anywhere as dramatic as her fictional counterpart?  Only one way to find out…

timebeingA Tale for a Time Being* by Ruth Ozeki

The Booker’s Dozen was announced earlier this week and Ozeki is one of three Canadians up for the prestigious Man Booker prize thanks to this novel about the connected between a bullied Japanese teenager and a blocked novelist.

The Silver Star* by Jeannette Wallssilver-star

Made famous by The Glass Castle, a memoir of her unconventional childhood, Walls turns to fiction with The Silver Star.  Two sisters are casually abandoned by their mother.  They travel cross country to the town where their mother was raised to be taken in by their eccentric uncle.  Recommended for book clubs.

old man100 Year-old-man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

A centenarian with a long a colourful life behind him escapes from his 100th birthday party.

fault

Other new additions to our ereaders include David Sedaris’ latest, Lets Explore Diabetes with Owls, John Green’s NYT bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars, Neil Gaiman’s latest (and one of my Summer Picks) The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed.

Happy E-reading!

–Patricia

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing e-galleys of these titles!