Annabel by Kathleen Winter

annabelThis book was hauntingly beautiful. It tells the story of a child, born in a remote Labradorean town in 1968, who is not quite male and not quite female. Winter’s storytelling is luminous and poignant as we grow up alongside Wayne (Annabel) in the cold, Canadian climate, privy to one family’s secrets. I’m still reeling from this story and it’s been years since I read it–time for a re-read! (Submitted by Meghan)

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Midnight Light: A Personal Journey to the North by Dave Bidini

midnight lightDave Bidini’s, Midnight Light, is a fun, offbeat, journey through Yellowknife and the surrounding area. Bidini had been at a bit of a cross roads in his writing career, looking for the topic for his next book while watching his newspaper work shrink as the industry as a whole struggled. In the midst of this, he took a short term gig with the Yellowknifer, Yellow Knife’s main paper. The resulting book is part travelogue, part ode to the newspaper industry, and part a series of vignettes featuring a cast of characters. The main through line for the book is formed by John McFadden, a Yellowknifer reporter who made national news after developing a difficult relationship with the local RCMP. This culminated in a trial for obstruction of justice. Midnight Light is a great read for fans of Canadiana, travel writing, and left me plotting a route north to see Yellowknife for myself. (Submitted by Shawn)

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Force of Nature by Jane Harper

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Jane Harper’s first book, The Dry, took us into the punishingly hot Australian outback. Now, Detective Aaron Falk and his new partner, Carmen, are sent into the heavy, close, jungle-like Giralang Mountain Ranges.

Alice Russell, one of five women on a corporate team-building trail retreat, has disappeared. Tensions between the returning survivors are high, and Aaron and Carmen must get to the bottom of what happened – as well as hope to find Alice in a race against time and nature.

I can’t convey how excellent Harper is at creating tension and atmosphere, and I can’t convey how masterfully she balances the mystery with a sense of simmering tension. I should also mention that each of her mysteries is impressively real. The situation and characters (and detectives!) all feel natural and organic – nothing far-fetched to be found.

Engaging, human mystery with a real sense of pervasive danger set against nature’s stunning (and vicious) backdrop – this should be on your reading list. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

homeforunwantedgirlsI just finished reading The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman for my book club and it was a real page-turner. It’s a fictitious novel based on actual events that occurred in the early 1950’s in Quebec. At the time, many babies born out of wedlock were handed over to orphanages run by Catholic nuns. The province’s Premier of the time, Duplessis signed an order-in-council to turn orphanages into hospitals, thus allowing them to collect federal subsidies. As a result, many of the children in the orphanages were told that they were now mentally deficient, often kept drugged, and made to provide labour in support of the institutions. The children were not schooled, nor were they made available for adoption.

This story follows a 15 year old who finds herself pregnant as well as the story of the child she gives up to one of these orphanages turned hospitals. Mother and daughter never lose hope of reuniting while facing many challenges in their respective lives.

The novel was very well written and I believe it depicted the issues surrounding the times accurately. While it was sometimes difficult to read, it was also eye-opening and engaging. One of the few novels where I’ve shed tears while reading. I highly recommend it. (Submitted by Seline)

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Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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Adult Biography

Hope wants to be a scientist, a field that makes it hard for women to do so. She succeeds despite overwhelming odds and becomes a biologist with her own lab. Her voice is quirky, witty and acerbic. (Submitted by Sharleen)

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

big-little-liesI feel like I’m a bit late to the party with this popular book, but it’s amazing! It’s one where you know something really bad has happened, but not to whom or who did it, so there’s a sense of foreboding throughout.  It follows 3 mothers whose children have just entered Kindergarten and unravels the tragic events at a school function. There’s suspense, sadness, friendship, and a surprising amount of humour. It particularly resonated with me, as my child entered Kindergarten this fall – I hope nothing so dramatic happens to me! I can’t wait to see the HBO series and see how Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman tackle the characters of Madeline and Celeste. (Submitted by Gayle)

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The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby

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What a delightful cast of characters. The author did a wonderful job of giving each a unique voice and I thoroughly enjoyed how she managed to provide different points of view on the same set of events without it becoming tiring. A great read with laugh-out loud moments! (Submitted by J. Wilson)

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