Friday, November 21, 2014

Next Reads - Thrillers and Suspense!

Are you looking for a few good books to read? Sign up for our e-newsletters and get great book suggestions by email. We'll deliver reading lists right to your inbox along with new gems, bestsellers, and related titles. Select from your favourites (Biography and Memoir, Mystery, Romance, and more), or choose them all!

This month we feature Thrillers and Suspense novels with legal, science-fiction-tinged, historical, and psychological twists. For more information about these titles check out the November 2014 Nextreads Newsletter.

A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin
You by Caroline Kepnes
The Day of Atonement by David Liss

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
The Legal Limit by Martin Clark
The Prophet by Michael Koryta

The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli
Airtight by David Rosenfelt
That's How I Roll by Andrew Vachss

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Staff Pick - The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

As a book and library lover, I could not miss a book about library, books, love of reading, and a librarian as the main character. The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai is a heartfelt and delightful story. The novel is full of references of children’s literature – book lovers will love this!

Lucy Hull is a 26 year old children's librarian in a small library in Hannibal, Missouri. She enjoys her work and has a special bond with one of library’s young visitors - a 10 year old Ian Drake. Ian is an avid reader and a little flamboyant. Ian’s parents are very religious and restrict his reading, excluding a lot of children’s classics, books about magic, weaponry, evolution and Halloween. His parents are also concerned about Ian’s sexuality, so they enroll him in anti-gay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. One day Ian runs away from home, hides in the library where Lucy discovers him. Instead of contacting Ian’s parents or police she leaves the town with Ian and both go on a road trip without a destination.

A boy and a librarian on the run: one escapes from his parents and another from herself. During the journey both Ian and Lucy learn a lot about themselves. Self-doubted and insecure Lucy (sometimes I wanted to shake her to get her motivated!) starts understanding herself, her family, and her roots. Lucy’s passion for reading and libraries, her Russian origin, her parents’ Soviet past and immigrant experience made her  relatable to me.

Lucy may not have a library degree but she is a librarian by nature. Only a true librarian will smuggle reading lists for the next 8 years of a child’s life! I agree with Lucy when she said: "I do still believe that books can save you.” Do you believe, dear Reader, that books can save?

The Borrower reminded me of:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vampire Royalty

I am anxiously waiting to read the latest offering by Anne Rice Prince Lestat . I can clearly remember reading An Interview with a Vampire as a teen and falling in love with the character, Louis. It was only with the second novel in the Vampire Chronicles that I fell for the brat prince, Lestat. Lestat has changed over the years in the amount of power that he has but from what I hear he is still a fantastic creature. Lestat De Lioncourt is an over 200 year old vampire who rose from humble beginingss as a member of impoverished nobility in the countryside of Auvergne France. Prince Lestat takes place a decade after the events of Blood Canticle. The vampires world is in chaos and Lestat is called upon to restore order. I can hardly wait to read this novel and find out how!

The first member of vampire royalty to come to the reading public’s attentions is Count Dracula in the novel, Dracula by Bram Stoker. Victorian era England seems to create a number of classic characters which includes Dracula, Dorian Gray of Oscar Wilde fame and the monster from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I don’t know what was in the water or air at that time but all these characters have thrilled me at one point in time or the other. The novel Dracula takes place in 1893, and is told in epistolary format. One piece of trivia that interests me is that the ship that Dracula takes from Transylvania to England is called the Varna. One of the first vampire tales was Varney the Vampire by Thomas Preskett Prest (or James Malcolm Rymer depending on which source you believe) . Varney had the title of Sir, so I suppose he could be counted on as royalty as well.

The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris introduced the world to vampires “coming out of the coffin.” The secret lives they lived were brought to the world’s attention. One of secrets was their methods of ruling themselves. Vampire Bill became a King in the television series TruBlood, but in the novels there were various kings and queens vying for various lands throughout the United States (and I assume the world). This series is more of a romantic/comedic thriller series. A telegraphic waitress becomes entangled in the supernatural world when she meets Vampire Bill Compton and his fellow vampires. In each novel Sookie discovers things about herself and other secrets of the world around her. I have always been wary of books being turned into movies or television series. While the TV series goes totally in a different direction, i.e., a character who died in the first book was alive through the 7 seasons on TV, and white characters in the books are black in the series, they are both wonderful stand alone entertainment.

Each of these novels are unique in their own way and because of this may appeal to different readers. My advice is to sink your teeth into them and see if you develop a taste for more!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2014 World Fantasy Awards

" The World Fantasy Convention is an annual gathering (almost a reunion) of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of Light and Dark Fantasy art and literature." 

The World Fantasy Convention recognizes excellence in fantasy writing and this year has awarded the following honours:

Best Novel:

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

"Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home—but which his mother calls th e Ghost Country. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick’s life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. Just as he revels in Olondria’s Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl. In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire’s two most powerful cults. Even as the country simmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of freeing himself by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that most seductive of necromancies, reading." publisher

Best Artist:

Charles Vess

Life Achievement Winners:

Ellen Datlow

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Monday, November 17, 2014

Under your skin by Sabine Durrant

A few years ago I read a wonderful little novel The Great Indoors which I loved and recommended to friends. Now I’ve found that the author of this little novel has turned her talents to writing a thriller.   How could I not read it?

In Durrant’s latest novel we are off to London, England where we enter the life of morning television co-host, Gaby Mortimer.  Gaby has it all, or seems to.  A wonderful high-profile job, a handsome and very successful husband, a darling eight-year-old daughter, a ritzy South London address, and live-in help.

Then, one pre-dawn morning in early spring Gaby goes out to the common near her house for her daily run. When during her run she discovers the body of a dead young woman – her life is irrevocably changed. In her shock she touches the girls hair and clothing.  A few days later these factors and other physical evidence lead the detectives to arrest her!   Gaby’s shock, dismay and panic at being arrested are palpable.  With her husband in Singapore on a business trip she has no one to support her during this trying time.  After thirty-six hours pass, with nothing other than circumstantial evidence the police have to release her.  One would think that was the end of Gaby’s nightmare, but no…. her nightmare is only just beginning.   It turns out that the dead woman (who resembles Gaby physically) has been wearing Gaby’s clothes!  The police said that she was at Gaby’s house to interview for the position of nanny – but Gaby has no recollection of such an interview.  And the nightmare goes on….

Marta, Gaby’s present nanny is a cold, uncommunicative women from Poland.  Gaby hired her the week her mother died, when she was emotionally vulnerable.  Gaby’s husband, Philip is increasingly distant and Gaby fears for the future of her marriage. To further enhance Gaby’s torment, the television studio seem to have cut their ties to her.  Her beloved job seems to be a thing of the past.  Also, she is being stalked!  The police detective inspector that arrested her seems to have her in his sights as the most likely murderer and seems to be lurking every time she leaves the house. Then, just when it seems Gaby has no support, she meets an investigative journalist who seems to be on her side.  They meet on several occasions and he seems to believe in her innocence. I’m not sure how the title Under Your Skin factors in however.

I would love to hear what other readers think in this regard.  Is it that Gaby herself “gets under your skin”?  The meaning of the phrase is to irritate someone.  Does Gaby irritate the reader?  Perhaps it refers to DNA evidence?  I’d love to hear the author’s reason for choosing the title.

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant fairly drips with tension.  Masterfully constructed with Gaby as narrator, the novel is a page-turner in the truest sense.  This psychological thriller is everything you want in a novel.  Good characterization, tight plot, red herrings and a surprising and disturbing ending.   Highly recommended!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

If You Liked: The Fault in Our Stars

Author John Green, already popular for bestsellers such as Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, reached mega-star status with his 2012 novel The Fault in our Stars, based on the life of cancer-patient teen Esther Earl. Add in the 2014 blockbuster movie adaptation starring Shailene Woodley, and it’s no wonder The Fault in our Stars is widely read and adored by teens and adults alike.

So, you’ve read TFIOS, loved it and are wondering what to read next? Or, maybe you’re still waiting to get your hands on a copy of TFIOS and want to know what to read in the meantime?

Here we have for you 10 other hand-chosen YA titles that deal with illness, disability, friendship, love, death and growing up, and not necessarily in that order. Grab a box of tissues and curl up with one of these great reads.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (2013)

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them – a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. A lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

The F-It List by Julie Halpern (2013)

Alex and Becca race to finish Becca’s bucket list before it is too late. Halpern writes about illness, loss, love, and friendship with candor and compassion. Here is an unforgettable book about living fully, living authentically, and just… living.

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor (2014)

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

Say What You Will  by Cammie McGovern (2014)

A debut novel that charts the friendship between a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with obsessive-compulsion disorder. McGovern gracefully crafts a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (2014)

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying – only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? Sixteen-year-old Alice is ready to go out in a blaze of glory, but then she discovers she’s in remission from cancer and she must deal with all of the mistakes she’s made and the people she’s hurt.

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon (2013)

Chemo, radiation, a zillion surgeries, watching my mom age twenty years in twenty months… If that’s part of the Big Dude’s Plan, then it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Somebody up there hates you. Ritchie, a seventeen-year-old in hospice care, and a girl named Sylvie, plan to live in their own way, by their own rules, for whatever time they’ve got left.

This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Grace Earl (2014)

A memoir told through the journals, letters, and stories of young cancer patient Esther Earl, the girl who inspired John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank (2014)

A novel-in-verse – at once literary and emotionally gripping – that follows the unfolding friendship between two very different teenage girls who share a hospital room and an illness. A dramatic and deeply moving read.

When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan (2014)

Dylan has Tourette’s. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in. But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything when he overhears that he’s going to die in March. Conaghan makes you travel every step of the way in Dylan’s shoes, laughing and crying – often at the same time – as Dylan faces the twists and turns of an unfair world with glorious optimism and wit.

Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts (2014)

A shared wall in their hospital rooms evolves into a bond neither sees coming. Told in alternating perspectives, Zac and Mia tracks the relationship of two ordinary teenagers in exceptional circumstances. A funny and tender novel about hope, love, and courage.

 by Ashley Nunn-Smith, Youth Collection Development Librarian

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Great Business Books

Reading is the key to business success. Here are some business books –hidden gems about self-improvement, leadership, management, marketing and entrepreneurship.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“Carnegie’s classic book was first published in 1936 and remains a best-seller today. The crux is Carnegie’s idea that “the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people — that person is headed for higher earning power.” Warren Buffett took a course on the book when he was 20 and said the experience “changed my life.””

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

“This is the classic management book by business guru Drucker. For Drucker, executives’ key job is to “get the right things done.” He identifies five essential practices to business effectiveness for executives: “managing time, choosing what to contribute, knowing where and how to mobilize strength, setting the right priorities, and effective decision-making.” A favorite of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, this book offers many valuable lessons.”

Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

“This book came out of the notes Blake Masters took when Thiel (founder of PayPal, Palantir, Thiel Fellows and Clarium Capital, and lead investor in Facebook) taught a Stanford University class on start-ups. The book title comes from the idea that “Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1.” You can read the book, or go straight to the notes if you are curious.”

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

“The book teaches the theory of disruptive innovation and why great companies fail when they ignore disruptive products in their competitive space. A favorite of Bezos, Steve Jobs, and countless other great CEOs, the book challenges conventional wisdom on what businesses should be focused on and when they should deviate from business as normal.”

Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

“This book could also be titled defense against the dark arts of marketing and persuasion. It explains the psychology of marketing and persuasion, which you can learn for using yourself or for defending yourself against it. In the early 1990s, Charlie Munger gave a series of talks on the psychology of human misjudgment (which have been combined and condensed in his book, Poor Charlie’s Almanack ) in which he heaped praise on the book for filling gaps in his knowledge. “

The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

“Written by a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, this book doesn’t sugar-coat how hard it is to run your own business. Filled with practical wisdom from Horowitz’s business experiences, including the near failure of his own company, this is a worthwhile read for aspiring entrepreneurs and managers alike.”

Competition Demystified by Bruce Greenwald and Judd Kahn

“Written by the current head of the Columbia Business School’s Value Investing program, Bruce Greenwald, this book presents a way to analyze the competitive structure of any industry, and pairs it with the idea of moats, market niches, and competitive advantage.”

“…You’d be amazed at how much Warren (Buffett) reads — at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” - Charlie Munger, business magnate, lawyer, investor, and philanthropist.