The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Winner of the Quill and Alex Awards in 2007, the Name of the Wind is an epic fantasy and the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle series. Told as a story within a story, the tale of the mythic hero Kvothe’s rise is equal parts exciting, romantic and heart wrenching. Author Patrick Rothfuss’ prose captures Kvothe’s journey from small child to notorious legend in grand vivid style. A thoroughly enjoyable read for fantasy fans.  (Submitted by Arvind)

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Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

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In Etaf Rum’s debut novel, A Woman is No Man, we are introduced to three generations of Palestinian-American women who are all tied down to tradition and culture. Isra is the girl from Palestine who gets married off to an American and shuttled away to Brooklyn, New York. There, she battles her dreams of a better life in America, one where women are valued and not subservient to their husbands. But her new mother-in-law Fareeda is just as traditional as her own mother, pressuring her to have a son and disregarding the daughters that Isra eventually bears, including the first born, Deya. But perhaps it is Deya who will finally manage to find that balance between being Arab and American and breaks free from the tight constraints of a patriarchal mindset, through the use of books and the discovery of secrets long kept hidden…

This was an enthralling read that had me hooked from the very first chapter. Etaf Rum seamlessly invites us into a world we may or may not be familiar with. This world will horrify you and sadden you, but ultimately it will provide you with hope that a better world may be on its way. Jumping between timelines and characters, Woman is No Man depicts the voices of women who have been silenced for far too long. (Submitted by Alan)

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Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas

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I loved “Winners Take All” by Anand Giridharadas – eye-opening and paradigm-shifting look at a different kind of world. (Submitted by Jenny)

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Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

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Penny is angry with her mom, Celeste. She’s going away to college to be a writer. Sam is stuck. He is in a low paying job as a baker/barista, his ex-girlfriend is pregnant, he has no money, and he wants to be a film director. Their paths collide in the centre of town and they become each other’s Emergency Contact. Great writing from 2 points of view, believable scenarios. (Submitted by Sharleen)

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Childhood’s End by Arthur Clarke

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Imagine overnight, dozens of huge alien ships hover above the major cities of earth. They remain in their ships, appointing a human liaison to hear their instructions and relay the message to the people of earth. It is useless to resist: they’re impervious to all man made weapons (including nuclear powers), and they have a power to block out all sunlight over an area of their choosing- from one house on a city block to entire countries. Despite their awesome power, it seems the aliens come in peace: over a period of 50 years, they solve all the world’s problems without even leaving their ships. There is no more inequality, no wars, no crime, and a world-wide one government system that sees incredible developments in technology, medicine, and architecture. Suddenly people have the ability to travel across the world for lunch, can go to university indefinitely to study all manner of topics, and form self-sufficient colonies following common interests. No one knows why the “Overlords” came, nor what they want: a common theory is that the Overlords are lost in the universe and simply bored. One day, one of the Overlords comes out of the ship, and their intentions become clear (I won’t spoil it, but their long game isn’t exactly friendly).  I found this book, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, to be really thought provoking and amazingly prescient: it was originally published in 1953, but could have been written last year. It was a very quick and incredibly engaging read – only about 200 pages, and a nice introduction to sci-fi, coming from someone who almost never reads it! (Submitted by Mandi)

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Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto

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Sakamoto’s account of his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother is compelling reading. Both experienced the effects of World War 2 – his grandfather in a Japanese POW camp and his grandmother the hardships of BC’s forced relocation of its Japanese residents and citizens. We get a detailed look at their upbringing and lives, giving us tremendous insight into the times and character of these people, which is thoroughly engaging.

The book changes after the first half when the author begins his own story, particularly when he focuses on his mother’s journey into alcoholism and poverty, but it still leaves a deep impression on the reader. Instead of dealing with the theme ‘forgiveness’ between two people, in fact two families, with powerful reasons to hate each other, the subject is briefly glossed over. You’re left to assume they nobly put the past behind them when their children marry but are barely mentioned in the second half. Sakamoto is definitely not a great writer, some of his historical facts are incorrect, and the book feels disjointed, but I still recommend it as worth reading. It won the CBC’s Canada Reads in 2018 which says more for its champion, Jeanne Beker, than the book itself, but again, its content holds a strong message for us all. (Submitted by Pippa)

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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Life After Life – Does the course of your life depend on fate or do you have control based on the choices you make?  Ursula Todd is born on a snowy winter day in 1910 .. and then dies before she can take a breath.  Or does she? The very same day, she is born, the doctor arrives in time, and Ursula lives.  We follow Ursula’s childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as Kate Atkinson weaves in key historical events from the early to mid 20th century – World War I, the Spanish influenza epidemic, and then World War II, both in London during the Blitz and Germany in the ‘30s and ‘40s.  We witness Ursula’s birth and death over and over again — in each timeline she makes different decisions that lead to wildly different life paths. Or is it fate acting upon her?  A highly enjoyable read for fans of British historical fiction and alternative histories. The audiobook, read by Fenella Woolgar, brings the characters to life. (Submitted by Beth)

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