The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

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Gratuity, or Tip for short, is a terrified, angry, badass eleven-year-old. Ordinarily, Tip is used to handling all sorts of situations, having grown up managing her absent-minded mother. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances. The main reason she’s terrified is because an alien race, the Boov, have taken control of Earth and are forcing all humans in the United States to relocate to Florida, and no one knows what fate awaits them there. The main reason she’s angry is because her mother was abducted by the Boov last Christmas Eve, and Tip hasn’t seen or heard from her since.

And as for the badass part? Tip has decided that instead of boarding the Boov rocketpods to Florida along with everyone else, she is going to drive the family car across the country herself.

Adam Rex creates that great mixture of page-turning, immersive action and wry, self-aware humour that I loved so much in Douglas Adams’ writing. (When I finished, I felt like I needed to read it over again to catch all the satire and social commentary that I missed while I was barreling through to find out what would happen to Tip.) The True Meaning of Smekday is peppered with laugh-out-loud scenes and earworm phrases that I found myself chuckling at days after I had finished reading. Whether you read the book, which has accompanying illustrations by Adam Rex, or – like I did – listen to the audiobook narrated by the incomparable Bahni Turpin (you will be thinking in a Boov accent for weeks), you really cannot go wrong with this quirky, irreverent, giddy romp of a book. (Submitted by T. Thomas)

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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I forgot the last time I read a book and laughed so much. The Rosie Project sure made me smile and chuckle more than a few times. The main character, Don Tillman, has an Asperger’s syndrome – a condition that is pretty much permanent in one’s life and clearly not a laughable matter. However, once you meet Don and get to know his way of thinking and his approach to life, you begin to ease a little and think- things are not that bad for Don, actually he seems like he figured out life better than most people. Don adores order, rules, predictability and it’s easy to label him as rigid and control-loving. But, he is also a nice, smart, talented, kind, and caring person.

Fun begins when Don decides to seriously look into his “Wife Problem” (he is in his late 30s and single) and this is how the “Wife Project” gets underway. Don Tillman, being a scientist (geneticist to be exact) approaches the love aspect of life fully prepared, with scientific research and measurements. Find out what happens next! (Submitted by Mariya)

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If you fall in love with The Rosie Project, read The Rosie Effect afterwards!

 

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

all-our-wrong-todaysFrom the first page, I was hooked.  I liked it so much I actually read it aloud so others would also want to read it.  I like the short chapters and Elan’s use of language.  This book has it all, time travel, romance, family dynamics, all tied up around what would happen if an event in the past was changed by the main character.  The main character doesn’t have to wonder if he is living in the wrong timeline. He knows he is. After all, he was the one who messed it up.  Read  this book to find out why our reality is not like the Utopian future that the 1950s predicted. (Submitted by Deanna)

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The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon

the golden meanThe Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon is a great historical novel  based on true events.  It’s about Alexander III of Macedon (also known as Alexander the Great) who was a young and a powerful Greek emperor who ruled the largest Western empire of the ancient world. He was only in his early 20’s when he became a king, and died at the age of 32.  In his teen years he was tutored by the legendary Greek philosopher Aristotle. This novel is re-imagination of what it was like for Aristotle to tutor this clever young man whose limitless ambition was also alarming. Consequently, Aristotle aimed to give Alexander the “Golden Mean” to become a prominent leader without losing control over his desire for power. (Submitted by Jamila)

 

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A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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A Series of Unfortunate Events is popular, especially among pre-teens, for a reason. At first, I didn’t think I’d like the series since it seemed too odd and dreary. However, Lemony Snicket (the pen name for Daniel Handler) has such an intriguing style of writing. The series is about three orphans who try to escape Count Olaf, a relative who attempts to steal the inheritance the orphans are supposed to receive when they grow older. While I agree with others that the books in the middle of the series are repetitive, the end gets very interesting! There are so many clues and sub-plots that the books start to feel like a mystery series, and it’s very rewarding if you read every single book. It’s a clean read that’s great for people who are willing to finish something all the way through and get lost in the mystery and adventure. (Submitted by Beatrice)

You are welcome to borrow A Series of Unfortunate Events from Surrey Libraries; we have it in different formats: books, ebooks, and audiobooks.  Check it out!

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

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This book grabs your attention on the first page and never lets it go: “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love” (unnamed narrator, p.1). The narrator of the novel may at first seem beyond redemption: he’s a drug addicted, porn producer who pursues vices at every corner until he is brutally maimed by fire in a car accident. The book follows his slow and painful recovery in the burn ward and the people he meets along the way including the beguiling and mysterious sculptress, Marianne Engels, who claims that they were lovers in medieval Germany, when she as a nun and he was a mercenary. The author seamlessly weaves other tragic tales of love – parental love, unrequited love, self-love – throughout the narrative and introduces us to captivating characters from around the world – Japan, Iceland, England, and Italy. While this novel falls squarely within the historical fiction genre, it also touches upon the idea of time as circular, amorphous and includes magical, mystical and surreal elements. I heartily recommend this novel to all readers passionate about deeply drawn characters, multicultural themes, and page-turning prose that you just can’t put down! (Submitted by Andrea)

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The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

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To say that Myrtle (“Tilly”) Dunnage had a traumatic childhood would be an understatement. At the age of ten, Tilly is accused of a serious crime and as a result – taken away from her single mother and evicted from the village of Dungatar, the only world she has ever known.

Twenty years later, to everyone’s astonishment, Tilly Dunnage re-enters the lives of Dungatar villagers. On her return, Tilly finds her mother, Molly, to be half mad from all those years of sorrow, loneliness, and poverty; the rest of the village and its residents remain almost unchanged except for the fact that everyone grew up or aged. There is much resentment, hate, and fear directed toward Tilly and her mother. However, Tilly is not a Cinderella type of a girl that would cry away in an attic waiting for some magical intervention; she is quite a character and that combined with her acquired skills in clothing design and sewing – make her a revolutionary ready to ignite some change. Armed with a Singer sewing machine, Tilly transforms people and the world around her. Myrtle Dunnage instigates a fashion revolution in Dungatar which is closely accompanied by revenge directed at those who did her wrong.

Rosalie Ham did a terrific job depicting a little village and its residents, as well as the major background– Australia in 1950s.

Supplement the book with the movie starring Kate Winslet as Tilly Dunnage. Costumes and actors’ play are definitely worth watching (Submitted by Mariya).

 

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