Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Image result for today will be different book coverToday will be Different by Maria Semple is a fast-paced, adventurous, fun read. It is full of strong characters, edgy humour, crazy plot twists and delightfully descriptive text that immerse you in Seattle, New Orleans, and Aspen. In the story, Eleanor Flood, a middle-aged animator and mom of a precocious eight-year-old boy living in Seattle wakes up one day deciding that today is the day she will get out of her rut and insists that today will be different. In fact, it turns into one misadventure after another as she tries to solve the mystery of her absent husband and in the search reflects on her life and her troubled relationship with her estranged sister. Although a quick, fast paced read, Semple is able to explore the relationships between this flawed, yet immensely likeable character and her significant others to a satisfying depth. (Submitted by Michelle).

 

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The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Image result for THE SILENT WIFE BOOK COVERA friend recommended The Silent Wife after I enjoyed reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

The story is told in alternating voices of main characters, Todd, and his common-law wife Jodi.  The couple’s seemingly perfect relationship, which includes flourishing careers and a luxury waterfront condo, unravels in the aftermath of Todd’s adulterous lifestyle.

Both characters are unlikeable.  But the author’s meticulous account of Jodi’s unspoken turmoil, set against the picture perfect view from the calm of her tony surroundings, kept me turning the pages.

It is unfortunate that this Canadian author passed away from cancer just months before her first novel was published. (Submitted by TS).

 

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Jia: a novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim

Image result for BOOK COVER JIA: A NOVEL OF NORTH KOREAJia by Hyejin Kim was one of the most fascinating books I ever read about North Korea. It tells a story of a little girl, whose mother came from a very prominent family, but her father did not. As a result, the whole family was sent to a Gulag in the mountains. The father disappears and the mother dies during Jia’s birth. Jia’s paternal grandparents are given jobs at the gulag, courtesy of the maternal grandparents, and take care of their two little granddaughters. After a chance meeting with a South Korean soldier, they manage to smuggle little Jia to the capital city of Pyongyang, in hopes she can find her maternal grandparents and have a chance to live a better life. She does find them but they want nothing to do with her, so she ends up staying in the orphanage. She becomes a dancer and eventually moves to a very good job at an international hotel, joining a famous dancing ensemble. She becomes a beautiful dancer herself, just like her mother, whose name is not even mentioned in the book, and she falls in love with a young soldier. But when she shares with him where she came from, and that she’s not who he thinks she is, he is shocked and plans to report her. So, in order to avoid prosecution, Jia has to escape Pyongyang and cross over to China, where she falls into the hands of women traffickers and only a lucky meeting with a kind-hearted stranger makes it possible for her to survive. This book was very different from other books I have read on North Korea, because it is about living in Pyongyang and leading a somewhat prominent life. It was a very heartbreaking read, and I recommend that you have tissues handy. (Submitted by Monika).

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Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Many of us in our `middle ages` are dealing with aging parents in various stages of decline.  Roz Chast, the writer and New Yorker cartoonist, uses the graphic novel format to document her journey through this challenging time in her memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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From first noticing that things seem to be `falling apart`, to realizing that she must take control of the uncontrollable, and then on through moving her parents into care, and experiencing their passing, Chast weaves her story with humour, grace, and brutal honesty.

The most important messages I took from this endearing memoir are that:

  • we are not alone,
  • having a sense of humour is a survival skill, and,
  • in the midst of complicated family relationships and challenging situations there is still, always, love.

(Submitted by KS).

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Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence

Image result for Missing NimâmâMissing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence, winner of the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, is a lovely picture book for anyone’s collection. However, it is especially relevant for teachers looking for First Nations materials for the new BC Ministry of Education requirements, or for anyone who has read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and wants to dig deeper into the stories of Canada’s First Nations. It introduces the topic of Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in a format that is accessible to young children.

The story of a young girl growing up is told in the voices of the girl and her missing mother. The lovely, wistful illustrations reflect the emotions of the daughter who is missing her mother, and the mother who can no longer raise her daughter.  The sweet and touching relationship between the girl and the grandmother who raises her prevents the story from becoming too overwhelmingly sad. An interesting addition to the text is a Cree glossary of words which are both included in the text and hidden in the illustrations. More information and statistics on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada are included at the end of the book for those who want to go a bit deeper. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Canada’s relationship to its indigenous people. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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Pass the Masala: vegetarian Indian cooking made simple by Bharti Saincher

Image result for pass the masala book coverIn Pass the Masala, Surrey local Bharti Saincher gives us Indian recipes that she has perfected for decades. She has also included a few favourite recipes from China, Thailand, and Mexico. Unlike traditional Indian cooking, she has made an effort to reduce the amount of butter and/or oil to the minimum needed to make the dish delicious and she embraces using modern kitchen conveniences if it makes cooking more efficient or effective.

I enjoyed this cookbook because Bharti Saincher also educates us on the history of foods in certain regions, different techniques for cooking, and the parts of a traditional Indian meal. She gives quick tips on how to adjust if a dish is too salty/dry/runny/etc. The book includes an in-depth reference guide and very thorough instructions that make Indian cooking less daunting to those of us who may not have cooked Indian dishes. My mouth is watering! (Submitted by Meghan).

Meet Bharti Saincher in person at Authors Among Us: Foodie February at Guildford Library tomorrow, Wed, Feb 15 at 6:30pm. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot!

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Stargold the Food Fairy by Claudia Lemay

Image result for stargold the food fairyIn Stargold the Food Fairy: an exciting adventure that illustrates the importance of nutrition to children, registered dietitian Claudia Lemay makes the often daunting subject of nutrition entertaining and informative.This is a fun, quick read jam packed with practical advice that will please young and old alike. Ideal for kids and parents to read together! (Submitted by AM).

Meet author Claudia Lemay at Authors Among Us: Foodie February at Guildford Library on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot!

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