Life After Life

Patricia’s Fall 2014 Picks

We made it!  Now that the kids are finally back to school, life can return to normal.  (Yay!)  Normal for me is reading book blogs and savouring the decision of what to read next.  Will it be a book by an old favourite?  One that’s longlisted for a major award?  Or maybe some non-fiction?  Read on to discover my Fall 2014 picks.


My old favourite for September is none other than Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked.  In Egg and Spoon, Maguire takes on Russian folklore.  I’m looking forward to reading it aloud to my girls.betrayers

I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to finding out the Giller Prize winner this year.  I think the longlist looks amazing (like a checklist of things people could buy me for Christmas even) and the book I’m most looking forward to of the lot is David Bezmozgis’ The Betrayers*. An Israeli politician flees scandal for Yalta, where he must confront the man who denounced him to the KGB.

learnNo fall release resonates with me quite so much as Benedict Carey’s How We Learn. Having recently tried to educate my children at home, wondered if I’m getting it right, and how I could help them better, this title has shot to the top of my TBR pile.  For fans of Outliers and How Children Succeed, this title promises to teach us how to study smarter, not harder.



October’s old favourite had to beat out some tough competition:  John Grisham, Jodi Picoult and David Nicholls* all have new books out this month.  (Click on the author’s names to see the new titles.)  In Some Luck*, Jane Smiley begins a new trilogy.  Beginning in 1920, each chapter tells the story of a year in the life of an Iowa family.

Just in time for Hallowe’en comes V-Wars Volume 1*.  Bram Stoker award-winning author, Jonathan Maberry promises that the vampires in thisasyouwish graphic novel “will be based on creatures that appeared in actual beliefs.”  I guess that means nobody sparkles.

For non-fic this October, I’m going once upon a time to As You Wish, Cary Elwes‘ collection of tales on the making of The Princess Bride.


jennyStephen King’s Revival is out this November!

I’m intrigued by Jenny Erpenbeck’s award-winning novel End of Days*, in which an unnamed woman lives and dies different deaths in each chapter.  It sounds perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.

vodkaNine-year old Lev and his family fled Russia during the 1980s.  In his memoir, A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, he retraces their long journey to America in order to understand himself more deeply.

Happy Fall Reading!  Thanks as always to NetGalley and Edelweiss for keeping me in books!


Book News Roundup! January 10, 2013

catcherintheryeFor those of you who are as obsessed as Patricia is with The Catcher in the Rye, check out these alternate book covers.

For those of you who were as obsessed as Heidi was with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, follow this writer’s fascinating tumble down the rabbit hole when he discovers he and protagonist Theo Decker are the same person.

Everyone loves Life After Life! Kate Atkinson has won the Costa Award, which goes to writers based in Britain or Ireland for a work published in the last year.

A slideshow of 2014 book-to-movie adaptations, including a first look at Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher!

Who doesn’t love Google doodles? Even better? Google author doodles.

(Image via).

Patricia’s Fresh Picks for July

Another batch of brand new fiction has just hit our display area.  Take a look at some of July’s Fresh Picks:

gretaThe Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

What is it?  A literary work about a depressed woman whose treatment allows her to travel through time to alternate realities

For fans of:  Charles Frazier, Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life

The Longings of Wayward Girls* by Karen Brownlongings

What is it?  Debut psychological fiction about the lasting impact of one summer 20 years ago

For fans of: Gillian Flynn, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones

fiveFive Days* by Douglas Kennedy

What is it? A novel about a brief but life-changing encounter

For fans of:  Anita Shreve, Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County

Instructions for A Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrellheatwave

What is it?  A bittersweet novel about family secrets

For fans of: Kim Edward’s, David Bergen’s The Time In Between

jacarandaChildren of the Jacaranda Tree* by Sahar Delijani

What is it?  An intricately plotted debut novel that allows us inside life in revolutionary Iran

For fans of: Orhan Pamuk, Dina Nayeri’s A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea


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

Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist Announced!

Women's Prize for Fiction 2013The 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist is out today!  You can see Heidi and Patricia‘s predictions here and here. We did pretty well, all things considered.

There’s a lot of “Will she…?” surrounding this list, so without further ado:

Will Barbara Kingsolver be the first woman to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) twice? Up this year for Flight Behaviour, Kingsolver won the Orange Prize in 2010 for her historical novel The Lacuna.  To take home the Bessie, she beat out Hilary Mantel (nominated for Wolf Hall).

Will Zadie Smith be the first woman to win the Women’s Fiction Prize twice? Smith first won the Orange Prize in 2006 for On Beauty.  Like Kingsolver, she had to beat Hilary Mantel (nominated for Beyond Black) to do so. This year, she’s up for her experimental novel, NW.

Will Bring Up The Bodies score the literary equivalent of an EGOT? In 2012, Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies won both the Man Booker prize and the Costa (formerly the Whitbread).  Mantel has been nominated twice before and both times she was beaten out by authors who are also shortlisted this year.  Could this be her year?

Will A.M. Homes win and become more of a household name? May We Be Forgiven is the sixth novel by American novelist A.M. Homes.  Homes is also the author of The Safety of Objects (which was made into a film in 2003) and The End of Alice. She’s known for being both darkly comic and emotionally effecting.  I think May We Be Forgiven is a great read; it would be nice if this competition brings Homes more recognition.

Will this be the first Women’s Prize to go to a former Arrested Development producer? (Okay, I may be reaching here…) Before Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple was known as a TV producer.  She worked on Arrested Development (in my books this means she doesn’t have to do anything else in her life ever for her life to be considered well-lived.)  Heidi will be thrilled if she wins.

Or… will Kate Atkinson win? Kate Atkinson is already a household name thanks to her Jackson Brodie series.  She’s also celebrated – she’s been given the Whitbread Award for her 1995 book Behind the Scenes at the Museum.  The NYT Book Review called her nominated novel, Life After Life,  “a big book that defies logic, chronology and even history in ways that underscore its author’s fully untethered imagination.” I’m all about that.  How about you?

Which book do you predict will win? Answer in the comments below, and if your pick wins, we’ll enter you into a drawing for a super sweet NVCL Book Bag!



Patricia’s Picks for the Women’s Prize Shortlist

The Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist is out tomorrow.  For weeks now I’ve been ghosting the Women’s Prize, reading as many of the 20 longlisted titles as I can before the shortlist is announced.  I’ve read 11 and 4/2 titles (there are four titles:  NW, A Trick I Learned from Dead Men, The Marlowe Papers and that I’m ½ done).  Here’s how I’m hoping things shape up:


The Five-Star Reads I Hope Make the Cut

InnocentsThe Innocents by Francesca Segal

It’s been a long time now since I read this tale of a close-knit Jewish community in London, but it stands out as one of the most memorable works of fiction this Edith Wharton fan has read in recent memory.



Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

I do not like the cover of this book.  I read the blurb and didn’t think it was for me – Global Warming: The Novel.  That being said, I was so wrong.  The whole time I was reading Dellarobia’s story of a small town life dragged into the media spotlight, I was entranced.  (To be honest, I wished my copy wasn’t a library book so I could underline all of the most memorable passages.  Ah well, Goodreads quotations will have to serve.)


The Other Four Titles I’d Like to See

Alif the UnseenAlif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

If a customer came in and asked for a book like Alif the Unseen, I’d have to think about it really hard.  This book seamlessly blends Middle Eastern folklore with digital sensibilities.  At its heart it’s the story of a nerdy boy in love with the wrong girl.  What can compare?


Bring Up the BodiesBring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

I want it to make the list so I’ll finally stop intending to read Hilary Mantel and actually sit down and read her.  (I’ve been told to start with Wolf Hall.)



Life After LifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson

Holds are mounting on this title, which promises to be one of the hits of the season.  I haven’t read it yet, but will keep you posted.



The Marlowe PapersThe Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

A well-written novel in verse that doesn’t feel gimmicky at all.



The Over-Rated Titles I Hope Don’t

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiou – This novel is more a series of vignettes, tales from three women serving in the Israeli army.  While individual stories can be well told, the novel doesn’t hang fully together, there are too many awkward moments and, at times, the writing felt like a bad translation.  I have a feeling these effects were deliberate – but they simply didn’t work for me.

The Forrests by Emily Perkins – This was the first book I started when the longlist came out and I’m still trudging away at it for some reason (I think I might be stubborn.)  The writing is completely overdone and the story – a family history – doesn’t speak to me.  If my opinion changes by the time I (finally!) finish it, I’ll be sure to let you know in the comments below.



Patricia’s Spring Picks 2013

Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring.”  And in Anna Karenina, Tolstoy called spring “the time of plans and projects.”  Both of them sum up how I feel about spring reading:  I want something new to get excited about, be it debut author or foreign setting; and at the same time I want the sense that I’m working toward something.  This spring, in addition to reading my way through the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist, I’m hoping to sit down and get lost in the strange lands created by these works of fiction:



Clockwork PrincessI could spend the rest of the year just reading through books released this March.  From the conclusion to Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, The Clockwork Princess, to Andrew Pyper’s Milton-inspired thriller, The Demonologist, to the four books listed below, March has a lot to offer.



Filthy Rich in Rising AsiaHow to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

You are a poor boy growing up in rural Asia.  Don’t worry.  You’ll eventually become a corporate tycoon fascinated by a successful beautiful girl – this book will tell you how it happens.


A Beautiful TruthBeautiful Truth by Colin McAdam*

As you may know, I love a good animal narrator.  This book, which alternates between human and chimpanzee points-of-view, is the tale of an unusual path to parenthood.



LeopardsThe Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma*

A first novel about writing a first novel (and the literary rivalry that goes along with it).



Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki*

There is much to love in this tale which pairs a suicidal Japanese teenager who is writing the biography of her Buddhist nun great-grandmother with that of a blocked writer living in an isolated community in the Pacific Northwest.




Life After LifeApril promises much in the way of women’s fiction, such as Life After Life by Women’s Prize nominee Kate Atkinson, Maya’s Notebook by perennial favourite Isabel Allende, and an engrossing work of historical fiction about French expats in Manhattan — including the author of The Little Prince — Ania Szado’s Studio Saint-Ex*.


Under BudapestUnder Budapest by Ailsa Kay

I am sold on the title alone.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will read anything about the Hungarian Revolution and its aftermath.  Anything.  (Bonus points if there’s a character named Tibor, ‘cause that’s my dad’s name.) So why should you read it?  Everyone is concerned with what lies beneath the surface of things, and this book promises to delve into the troubled history of Hungary and unite the death of a Roma in 2010 with the disappearance of a sister in 1956.


DarkThe Dark by Claire Mulligan*

This novel from the author of the Giller-nominated The Reckoning of Boston Jim is based on the true story of the Fox sisters who inspired the Spiritualist movement.



Hungry GhostsThe Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai*

Shivan Rassiah is part Tamil part Sinhalese; he is also a gay man living in Ontario.  He travels ‘home’ to Colombo, Sri Lanka to pack up the house of his strong-willed, ailing grandmother, the family matriarch, and move her to Toronto with him.



Let’s just take for granted that those of us who are already hooked on Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series (myself included) have already placed Inferno on hold and have a look at what else May has to offer:


And the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

After The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini has written a darkly romantic supernatural thriller!?!  Of course not…  He’s still doing what he does best, family stories.  This one is a multigenerational saga that will take us all on a journey from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco – and I can’t wait to leave.  My eyes are on the countdown clock.


ConstellationA Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra*

One of the best things about reading a debut author is the feeling that you’ve discovered something precious. Just as a constellation is a connection between stars, this book looks at the connection between a young girl from a Chechyan village, her neighbour, and a female doctor during five unforgettable days in December 2004.  A book not to be missed.


You are One of ThemYou Are One of Them by Elliott Holt

It’s 1982: two 10-year old American girls write to Yuri Andropov and ask for peace.  Jenny is invited to meet him in Moscow; Sarah is not.  Their friendship suffers.  Two years later, Jenny and her family are killed in a plane crash.  Sarah is eventually lead to question: was the crash a hoax?




*Thank you to NetGalley for providing us with e-galleys of these titles.