Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Ms Okorafor is an African American author, the daughter of two Nigerian immigrants. I can’t remember how this book came on my radar but I’m glad it did. It’s catalogued as Science Fiction but the first half really doesn’t seem to fit that category–later on ‘magical’ things are at work but it dovetails so well into the story it doesn’t ‘read’ as Sci Fi.

It was a hard read in that it dealt with topics of racism, genocide, genital mutilation, the use of rape as a weapon of war, the societal views of children that are a result of these rapes – and the fact that these children are a result  of two races mixing . Climate change is a small part of the story (there are more deserts in this future earth) and the problems technology has brought society is also discussed.

The book presents us with a heroine, Onyesonwu (which means Who Fears Death), who has struggles to overcome as a child of a rape victim. A ‘Quest’ must be completed–a chance to right wrongs and vengeance taken.

Onyesonwu is a strong, emotional, conflicted character but you root for her every step of the way. (Submitted by RZ).

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Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

I was excited to read this debut novel that was touted as having elements of Eloise and Where’d You Go, Bernadette, two books I love.  When reclusive novelist M. M. (Mimi) Banning needs to come out of her decades-long writing hiatus for financial reasons, her publisher sends Alice Whitley to L.A. to help her with whatever she needs in order to get her book finished. Alice’s main job is to be a companion to Mimi’s son Frank, whose IQ is “higher than 99.7% of the American public” and who dresses to fit into the old Hollywood movies he loves (top hat and tails, smoking jacket, monocle). With no friends his own age, Frank relies on his adoring but prickly mother and charming but unreliable handyman Xander for companionship. Alice is pulled into their eccentric lives and becomes part of this makeshift family full of secrets. Who is Frank’s father? Will Mimi finish the novel? What is Xander’s story?  I actually wanted to give all of the characters a good smack quite frequently, but they all – especially Frank – won my heart and I was sorry to say goodbye to them as I closed the book. The blurb from comedian Dave Foley sums it up: “it will delight both the thinky and the feely parts of your brain.”  (Submitted by Gayle).

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The Girl with Seven Names: a North Korean defector’s story by Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl with Seven Names was a fascinating look at North Korea from an accidental defector who lived a more comfortable life than many on the Chinese/North Korea border. Not only did I learn a lot about North Korea, but I learned much about that part of the world in general. Lee’s book was very interesting and I highly recommend it. (Submitted by JF).

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Delicacy by David Foekinos

Delicacy, by David Foenkinos, is one of the loveliest books I have read. It is the story of a woman finding love after the death of her first husband, who she thought was the one love of her life. The characters are brilliant, and the story, very engaging. Throughout the book, the reader keeps being called back to the title, because so much of the story is subtle and gentle. Natalie, the story’s lead character, is very fragile in her mourning. The way Markus approaches Natalie, and the relationship that develops, is a tale of astounding delicacy that infuses every word and every page of the book.

As an additional point of interest, author David Foenkinos, himself, made a movie out of his novel. Directed by David and his brother, Stephane, the film La delicatesse is as wonderful as the book. You can find the book, the eBook and the movie (with Audrey Tautou and Francois Damiens) in Surrey Libraries. (Submitted by Eva).

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The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

In The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter, we meet Jane Standen, an archivist for a small London museum who is haunted by her past. When she was 15 years old, she lost sight of the 5-year-old girl who she was babysitting for only a few minutes during an adventure in the forest, and the young girl was never seen again. Now, she’s researching the similar disappearance of a woman from a mental asylum 125 years ago as part of her archival work. Hunter weaves past and present in this story of loss. I’d never read anything quite like this book–it was nostalgic and grief-stricken, but hopeful and poetic. It was historical fiction, suspense, and a ghost story all wrapped up in one. A book to be slowly devoured over a cup of tea. (Submitted by Meghan).

Aislinn’s book has been selected for KPU Reads. Meet Aislinn in person at Semiahmoo Library on Thursday, March 10 at 7pm. Call 604-592-6908 to save your spot.

Join Aislinn for a writing workshop, “Creating a Real World: 10 Tips for Writing Great Fiction,” at Write Here, Read Now on Sat, April 12 at City Centre Library from 10:15-11:45am. Call 604-598-7426 to save your spot.

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Command and Control: nuclear weapons, the Damascus accident, and the illusion of safety by Eric Schlosser

51zd+Q4Lc+L__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_A history of nuclear weapons and a look at the Damascus Arkansas missile explosion are the framework for this truly eye opening book. Military departments all wanted a piece of the nuclear pie, the military, air force and navy.  This led to the huge buildup of weapons and with more weapons (some flying around the world 24 hours a day) there is an increased risk of accidents.  Detailed, engaging and terrifying.  I am not shocked too often but this book really shocked me.  I couldn’t believe the infighting between the different military branches and the almost miracle that there hasn’t been an accidental nuclear detonation.  This book truly opened my eyes. (Submitted by Braden).

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Horrorstor–Grady Hendrix

Horrorstor_final_300dpi1If you want to read an IKEA parody that is a humourous horror story, this is the book for you.  The format of this book is similar to their catalog – the furniture, names, descriptions and pictures preceding every chapter were just as much fun as the story  (I especially like the different colour choices).  I was laughing before I even got to the first chapter.  If you have ever worked in retail, you will enjoy the corporate speak and find the “just ORSK” sayings hilarious.  This book walks the line between humour and horror with the store layout being just like a haunted house.  (Submitted by DS)

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