The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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You think you are getting a light, ‘fast read’ kind of book when you first pick this one up, especially at the start, but once you get into it, the themes that emerge can be thought provoking. Loss is the main premise and the author gives it to us in many angles, of a child, a parent, a marriage. Even if you think this description sounds depressing, I feel Monica Wood has handled all of this with a gentle hand and humour. This book was recommended to me and I’m definitely going to recommend it to others. (Submitted by Renee)

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The Dry by Jane Harper

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The Dry is Jane Harper’s debut novel, set in a remote rural town in Australia. Immediately the story has an atmosphere radiating heat, tension and small-town secrets. It introduces Federal Agent Aaron Falk who was run out of town as a teen, returning to attend the funeral of his estranged best friend who’s killed his wife and son in a murder-suicide. I found myself engrossed in the town’s colourful residents, their past and their current tensions as they struggle in the grip of a severe drought that’s bringing their lives to the brink of ruin. Rich in Australian culture and interesting characters, it was hard to put the book down and the ending was both a surprise and a satisfying resolution. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery or is into Liane Moriarty’s novels. (Submitted by Pippa)

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The Quiet by Anne-Marie Turza

AN-TurzaTheQuiet_NEW COVER OPTIONSAnne Marie Turza’s debut collection of poetry uses language to hint at what is beyond language. For instance, the poet uses the image of moths with button holes sewn to their wings noting they are “drawn not to the bulb, but to the/ darkness beyond just beyond it, the darkness that light intensifies.” This is not unlike what it is like to read the book: the, vivid imagery—which pulls in language from science, myth and Russian literature—is entrancing, and one finds oneself drawn back to it. Sleep is a theme throughout the book but the pervading mood is not at all dreamy; rather an insomniac logic defines a poetic world where sleep is an industry, comes in snippets and is itself a foreign language that the poet does not understand. The book is divided into five sections, with sections about The Quiet placed at the beginning middle and the end of the book. The nature of the quiet is unfolded in zen-like passages that rest as little self-contained boxes on the page. The reader is told repeatedly what the quiet is “not unlike” and thus it becomes easier to say what the quiet is not, rather than what it is. The quiet surrounds the book’s two other sections, Not Mine, Not Anyone’s and Other Buzzing Passages. In these, carefully crafted prose poems composed of exquisite vivid sentences alternate with lined poems. While there is no obvious reference to the quiet, the theology of the quiet pervades these sections. It is here that the speaker makes reference to a god (like the quiet never capitalized within the text) who is similarly elusive, who is “leaving,/ leave snow to be snow/ of what kinds/of its kinds.// Snow of lit vestibules/Snow shadowed with algebra.”). This deity belongs to no-one, is in charge of “untrue colours” and “conditional tenses. The book is meticulously crafted. Despite the lack of obvious narrative structure, each poem is linked to the one before it, creating a coherent whole. (Submitted by Jennifer Z.)

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Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

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A beautifully, sparely written novel about a young man and his estranged father, who find themselves on a final walk together. Franklin Starlight, an Ojibway teenager, knows next to nothing about his family, or his past. Along comes (returns) Eldon, his alcoholic absentee father, who takes Franklin on a last “medicine walk” to try and reconnect and finally share Frank’s history.

This was so beautiful. There are no saccharine, overtly emotional scenes. Richard Wagamese writes with careful expertise, and we share so much with these two characters without having too much unneccesary actual dialogue. Nature plays a great and important role, calming and vast, giving the Starlight men a world to disappear into.

This is a story about making mistakes, finding forgiveness, and moving on. There are no pleading excuses from Eldon, no righteous speeches from Frank. The themes of loyalty, family, love, and finding peace within yourself are all here, and explored beautifully. I look forward to reading more of Wagamese’s titles. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

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Do you believe in fairies?  Could you? If you have ever had thoughts of garden nymphs and fairies, this is the book for you. Written in two timelines, both tell the story of hope and believing in yourself and sometimes things not everyone can see with the naked eye. There is also discussion of why we believe what we do and how does this belief in the whimsy fairies actually fill gaps? A lovely little tale, beautifully described and a delight to read. Try it! (Submitted by Jamie)

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The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami

hero-walkAnita Rau Badami does an excellent job depicting the modern day life in India (I literally felt like a tourist submerged into the environment except there was also a good story and I didn’t have to physically travel anywhere). It focuses on one family, but a lot is tied into that one family’s journey: neighbours, traditions,  and daily routines.  Another interesting twist is the switching back and forth between Canada and India – this contrast is often very vivid (actually, just like everything in Badami’s book). You will feel the heat and smell the dust, or hear the rain gushing during the monsoon period. Fans of descriptive language will be thrilled with this novel. The drawback, to some people, it may seem longer than necessary at some parts of the book – but, tastes are just a matter of opinion.

One of the main characters in the novel is a 7 year-old girl, Nandana, who loses her parents in a car accident and has to go to India to live with her estranged grandparents. Nandana’s grandparents are internally suffocating from emotions of: grief, regret, uncertainty, failure, and frustration as they try their best to build a new life for their grandchild and fix up their own ones along the way. (Submitted by Mariya)

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Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

here comes the sunSet in Jamaica, this novel features several strong female characters including Thandi, a smart, beautiful, young girl whose older sister and mother have pinned their hopes on for getting them out of the slums that they live in. Thandi is set to go to college and become a high-paying doctor, but she is obsessed with becoming lighter skinned and longs to be an artist. Her older sister Margot has been paying for Thandi’s education, by working at the local hotel and by selling her body to men. Margot juggles her family obligations with her own yearnings to be in a relationship with the village outcast, an out lesbian woman who isn’t accepted by the people she grew up with. Margot and Thandi’s mother, Dolores, only wants what is best for her two daughters and will do anything to escape the life they are stuck in. Here Comes the Sun was an excellent page turner about dreams, ambitions, and the lengths that people will go to in order to achieve them. The dialogue is written in Jamaican dialect (Patois) which I had to get used to, but ultimately the story is what kept me going. (Submitted by Alan)

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