Summer Reading Game Reviews

We’re in the final stretches of the Adult Summer Reading Game, but there is plenty of time to get a few more books in!

1137151Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

I really enjoyed this book! It is written in a similar style to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book and the details of life in rural P.E.I. in the early 1900s really made me feel like I was right there. I recommend this book to all lovers of Anne of Green Gables. it will leave you with a wonderful “feel good” feeling.
Loved it!

massey_murder-size-custom-crop-438x650The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray

I chose this book as a fan of true crime, but I was pleasantly surprised by the engaging look at our country at the turn of the 20th century. Gray uses the trial of Carrie Davis as a frame for a growing Toronto/Canada, a country at war, and the changing role of women. I missed Charlotte Gray when she was at our library, but I will be sure to see this author if she comes back!
It was good. ~Staff review by Michelle

1291577Sisters in the Wilderness by Charlotte Gray

For those who love early Canadian history, Sisters in the wilderness is an illustrated double biography of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, two of Canada’s earliest pioneers. Set in the “backwoods” of Upper Canada in the 19th century, it is a great novel of those early days: the hardships, the struggles, the isolation, loneliness and fear. It is also a story of achievement — two sisters and the birth of Canada’s literary tradition. A great read!
Loved it!  ~Staff review by Iris.

 

Monday Evening Book Club November Selection

dictionary-of-mutual-understandingThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet in Forsyth Hall on November 14 at 7 pm. This month we’re discussing A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton.

About the book

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

About Jackie Copleton

Living in Nagasaki

A Richard and Judy Interview

A Youtube version of the interview

A Reading Guide

Reviews

The bombing of Nagasaki

After the A-bomb: then and now (photographs)

NY Times article about Obama visit to Hiroshima

Luise’s Summer Reading Reviews

Our Fiction Librarian, Luise, has been reading up a storm for the Summer Reading Game! Here are her reviews.

y648And After the Fire: a Novel by Lauren Belfer

Weaves an engaging story around a fictional long-lost Bach cantata with anti-Semitic lyrics. Incorporates facts about many interesting historical figures (Bach, Mendelsohn, Luther, etc.). Shows the progression of anti-semitism over the centuries. Touches on many interesting subjects, from musicology to philanthropy and includes a love story – lots to like!   (Historical Fiction)

 

man-s-search-for-meaningMan’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir about his years in Nazi death camps and the lessons he learned for spiritual survival. His theory (logotherapy) is that it is not the pursuit of pleasure and happiness that gives us meaning, but the ability to find meaning and purpose in unavoidable suffering. Amazing insights by an exceptional individual who lived through unspeakable trials; a timeless classic.   (Memoir)

 

adams_invinciblesummer_1_12Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

“Four close friends who graduate college together in 1998 venture off to pursue their fortunes in the new millennium, but find themselves drawn back together twenty years later amidst broken dreams, lost jobs, and shattered relationships.” (publisher summary)
A great summer read, well written, entertaining without being shallow.   (Romance/Love story)

 

thetroublewithgoatsandsheepThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

I expected an amusing, light summer read, but this debut novel is simply brilliant on so many levels! Yes, it was charming and quirky with plenty of eccentric characters (including the wittiest and smartest and most lovable two 10-year-old girl “sleuths” I’ve ever encountered), but it was also dark and tragic and full of depth and nuances and complex characterizations evoking the reader’s empathy for both victims and perpetrators. On the surface this is a very British book with countless cultural and food references (vast amounts of very unappetizing sounding sweets are being consumed throughout this book), but the message is universal and timeless (and very timely in the age of Trump). Best of all, the writing is exquisite! Don’t miss this one!

Plot-loving mystery fans beware, though – this is a different kind of “mystery”.   (Mystery)

Book Reviews to Inspire You for the Last Week of the Reading Game!

The last day to spin the Summer Reading Game wheel is Sunday August 16, and the last day to get your entries in is Tuesday August 18! Get those entries in for the Grand Prize of a Kobo Aura eReader.

To help with your final reading choices, here are a couple patron book reviews:

RuRu by Kim Thúy

“An autobiographical story of a Vietnamese Canadian, told in ultra-short scenes (vignettes), using poetic language. I can’t decide if I like this book or not. Maybe I read this book too fast, as the language sometimes felt choppy and the scenes too scattered. I may need to give it another try.”  ~Patron review, August 2015

Category: Fiction in Translation

**Kim Thúy will be coming to St. Albert Library on October 28 as part of STARFest 2015**

6257535New York by Edward Rutherfurd

“As the characters develop I found it interesting to grow with them and learn how history impacted them. I appreciated how the author introduced different characters, different cultures and tied them to a significant historical event. I did find it tough to remember all the linkages and felt it sometimes digresses. Overall enjoyed it.” ~Patron review, August 2015

Category: Historical Fiction

A Plethora of Summer Reading Game Book Reviews!

Everybody’s talking about the books they are reading!  We’ve had a stack of book reviews lately, and here they are to help guide your summer reading.

TheMagiciansThe Magicians by Lev Grossman

“Borrowing a bit from Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, Grossman has crafted a world of magic that is edgier, darker and more chaotic than most writers of fantasy.  His characters are real in the flaws and highly intriguing. An adult magical adventure that will draw readers to the next two books.  Yes, you can start now. The trilogy is complete.”  ~Patron review from Joan T., July 2015

Category: Fantasy

touchingtheearthTouching the Earth by Roberta Bondar

“Dr. Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space, gives the reader an insight into the unique perspective and wonder she experienced from the opportunity to view her home planet from space.  Her deep love of nature and the extremes beauty and diversity of Earth are celebrated in this account of her flight and how it shaped her. She was surely a deserving candidate to represent Canada in the space program.”  ~Patron review from Joan T., July 2015

Category: Bios & Memoirs

Essays in Love by Alain de Botton

“A wonderfully relatable,  witty & engaging blend of personal memoir, love story & philosophical musings about the nature of love. One reviewer very aptly described Alain de Botton as “a young British Woody Allen with the benefit of a classical education” – that sums it up quite nicely!”  ~Staff Review by Luise M-J, July 2015

Category: Short Stories

The Man in the Shed by Lloyd Jones

“What a sad litany of stories, where every husband is a cuckold and no marriage can be comprehended as consisting of loving, caring friendship, or communication of any meaningful kind!”  ~Patron review, July 2015

Category: Short Stories

And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas

nuns

“Jane Christmas lives in a few monasteries over a period of a few months as she tries to decide if she should become a nun or get married to her boyfriend who’d just proposed to her. In typical Jane Christmas fashion, the book is honest, down to earth, and a quick read.”  ~Patron review, July 2015

Category: Adventure

 

 

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman” introduces a more mature, wordly Scout whose worldview is shattered when she discovers that her father is a racist. I was wary going into this book as I love the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Right form the beginning of Watchman, though, I was immediately drawn into Lee’s beautiful prose. Less has perfectly characterized the deep south at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Watchman is a much more uncomfortable read compared to Mockingbird, mainly because racism is not only found in the faces of the villains. Though it is easy to discount Watchman as a first draft Mockingbird, it stands alone as a separate but equally important story.”  ~Patron review, July 2015

” ‘I need a watchman to go forth and proclaim to them all that 26 years is too long to play a joke on anybody.’ The Scout we know from Mockingbird returns as Jean Louise with the same free spirit, tenacity, and passion. She returns to Maycomb and finds that her father in not the hero she remembers and even Calpurnia sees the Finch’s differently. Jean Louise is one of the few who sees black people and white people as equally worthy of civil rights, and Lee tells this poetic but heartbreaking story that is just as important as Mockingbird.”  ~Summer Staff review by Graeme M., July 2015

Category: Historical Fiction

The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak

garneaublock_cover

“Todd is a local writer and Edmontonian. This story took place in the Garneau area with a few select characters. I enjoyed his sense of writing but I did not feel the story line to captivating.  I did enjoy relating to location, building, etc.”  ~Patron review, July 2015

Category: Sense of Place