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:


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.


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!


*Descriptions provided by the publisher






Apps for Booklovers

It’s no great secret that I love books and all things bookish.  That love certainly extends to apps.  Apps make me a more prolific and enthusiastic reader, and I’m excited to share some of my favourite apps for booklovers with you.

find-materials-downloadbles-ebooks-3m-app3M Cloud Library

What is it?  An e-book lending app.  Basically it allows you to borrow e-books from your local library.

Available for:  Desktop devices, Android devices, Apple devices

Note:  Due to licensing restrictions, the 3M Cloud Library is only available to North Vancouver City Library card holders.

My favourite thing about it:  The selection is really good — especially for newer releases, and it’s super easy to use.

OverdriveOverdrive Media Console

What is it?  An e-book and e-audiobook lending app that allows you to borrow and download e-books and audiobooks from your local library.

Available for: Android devices, Apple devices, Microsoft devices

Note:  Due to licensing restrictions, you need to access Overdrive Media Console from the library of the municipality you live in with a card from that municipality.

My favourite thing about it:  I love how easy it is to filter out books that are checked out so I can focus on titles I can read right now.  I also love that the catalogue contains both e-books and audiobooks so I can checkout my lunchtime reads (e-books) at the same time as my gymtime reads (audiobooks).

serialreaderSerial Reader

What is it?  An app that delivers classic public domain novels to you daily in small easy-to-read chunks.

Available for:  Apple devices (though an Android version is in the works)

My favourite thing about it:  The app inspires me to wake up 15 minutes early most days so I can polish off a bit of Moby Dick before breakfast, which is great; but the best part is truly the congratulatory messages that pop up when you finish your daily dose — they’re adorable!


What is it?  Imagine Instagram was all books.  It’s like that but much better.

Available for:   Apple devices (though an Android version is planned)

My favourite thing about it:  Litsy is everything I want social media to be.  It constantly inspires me to seek out new authors and makes me generally more knowledgeable about my favourite passion:  books.


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!


Bedtime reading is magic

RainbowMagicIt all started innocently enough:  fourteen months ago I had had it up to here with reading Rainbow Magic books every night when there are so many other titles I’d rather be reading.  In an attempt to lure my pumpkin princesses away from the samey adventures of Rachel, Kirsty and their fairy friends, I brought home a book I’d never read: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  I’d thought we could read just the first book, it would open the girls up to other non-RM books, and that would be the end of it (at least until they were older).  Boy was I wrong.

For fourteen months we eagerly awaited that special time each evening when we could curl up together and find out what trouble Harry was in… and how HarryPotterhe’d get out of it.  We laughed ourselves silly at the Weasley twins’ antics and Ginny’s Valentine poem to Harry (we even made up our own tune for that one).  We eagerly awaited Quidditch matches and tried to keep track of which house was set to win the House Cup.  Finally, we cried that it was all over (well, I did anyway) and that not all our friends had lived to fight another day.  The experience was everything I want from books, and it was made even stronger by the fact that it was shared, one cozy cuddle at a time, with my girls.

HermioneUsually at this point in my post, I’d make a list of what to read next.   (We have started on our next reading adventure already with Roald Dahl’s Matilda.)  What I’d rather do though, is hear from you.  What books have you read aloud to your children that were pure magic?  What books were read aloud to you that left their mark?


Steven Galloway and Maggie Bolitho Reading on June 11

Steven Galloway photo credit Frances RaudSteven Galloway people.

The celebrated author of The Cellist of Sarajevo will be here on Wed., June 11th at 7pm to read from and discuss his new book, The Confabulist, which uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a tale of intrigue, love and illusion.

Galloway is the author of three novels, most recently The Cellist of Sarajevo, an international bestseller, called “the work of an expert” by The Guardian.

Here is what critics are saying about The Confabulist:

Confabulist“Vancouver author Steven Galloway created literary magic with The Cellist of Sarajevo, the international bestseller recently chosen for community reads in Toronto and elsewhere. Now in his new novel, The Confabulist, Galloway makes magic again, this time of the literal, stage-show variety.” Marcia Kaye, The Toronto Star

“With his new novel The Confabulist, Vancouver writer Steven Galloway effortlessly blends history and fiction into a thrilling narrative that is as irresistible as it is subtly complex…Like the best illusionists, Galloway engages in significant prestidigitation in the telling of The Confabulist. While the novel thrills on a strictly narrative level, pushing the reader through as they wonder what will happen next, its construction is deceptively complex.”Robert J. Wiersema, The Vancouver Sun

“I almost didn’t accept the assignment. But this is Steven Galloway we’re talking about — a brilliant Vancouver novelist, and the author of the The Cellist of Sarajevo — and I believe that, no matter the setting or conceit, a good novelist can make anything worth your while. And Galloway is nothing if not a good novelist. I’m happy to report that The Confabulist, his fourth novel, is a stunning achievement.” – Zoe Whittall, The National Post
MaggieJoining Galloway is local author Maggie Bolitho, whose young adult novel Lockdown will be published this June by Great Plains Press.  Lockdown follows fifteen-year-old Rowan Morgan as she hikes through a suburban forest after a great earthquake rocks the Pacific Northwest.
Maggie has been a soccer player, a horsewoman, a martial artist, a scuba diver (volunteer diver for the Vancouver Aquarium) and a cyclist over the years. Before making her home in British Columbia, she lived in Australia. In Sydney, her home was in a red-zone, the highest bushfire risk possible and it was there, when she trained as a member of the CFU (Community Fire Unit) as a firefighter, that her interest in disaster scenarios came to life.

The reading is free and starts at 7pm on the third floor of the library. Doors open at 6:30 for wine and snacks. You can register online via our Events Calendar.

Hope to see you all there!




From Yertle the Turtle to A Clockwork Orange

clockworkWhat do Anthony Burgess and Dr. Seuss have in common?  Aside from the fact that they’re both playful with their language both are authors of books that have been challenged or banned.  (Dr. Seuss for both The Lorax and Yertle the Turtle; and Anthony Burgess for A Clockwork Orange, a book so intense it can make milk seem sinister.)

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Freedom to Read in Canada and today would have been Anthony Burgess’ 97th birthday.  (Happy Birthday!)  It’s a kind of freedomserendipity that these two events are taking place at the same time this year.

Interested in knowing more about what kind of books have been challenged in Canada in the past few decades?  Check out the Challenged Works List.  Pickup one of the titles listed and exercise your freedom to read.


Book Rut

A few weeks ago, I abandoned a book two-thirds of the way through because I wasn’t enjoying it.  I’m glad I did.

maiasBut.  Since then I’ve brought home book after book after book after book after… well, you get the idea, and nothing seems to stick.  It seems I’m in a book rut.  I’ve tried reading books from the book pit (that overly large and unruly pile of books that have followed me home that exists in my living room), and I’ve tried reading new authors.  I’ve tried reading past award winners, and I’ve tried reading old favourites.  (The current forerunner is pictured on the left.)

Suggestions for what I should read next?  Post them below!