Category Archives: Fiction

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

menagerieAh, the power of a page-turner. I hesitate to classify Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie as one particular genre because there are elements of urban fantasy, thriller, mystery, and contemporary fiction throughout. Vincent has created an alternate reality of sorts, where fantastical creatures (everything from the phoenix to human hybrid-esque mermaids, centaurs, etc.) live among us. Well, that’s not quite accurate. They don’t live among us. They have no rights at all. They are caged and abused, either for spectacle or research.

Enter Delilah, who is a smart young woman (too smart for her small hometown in Oklahoma) and is already opposed to the treatment of “cryptids.” While on a birthday trip to a traveling circus, Delilah is revealed to be more than what she seems – perhaps a cryptid herself. She quickly realizes just what this means as she is stripped of her every right and sold into the menagerie. Of course, now being on the other side of the bars means she must befriend her fellow cryptids while gaining a more thorough understanding of their lives. She also has to decide whether or not to trust the mysterious staff member Gallagher, who has his own story.

Vincent has created a world that feels absolutely real and there is a real battle of ethics here. I liked Delilah and I was desperate to know what happened next. Other reviewers have noted that the ending felt rushed, which I agree with, but it was such a thrilling read that it almost doesn’t matter. Serious page-turner alert! (Submitted by Veronica)

Borrow Menagerie from Surrey Libraries now!

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury. Although the book was published more than half a century ago, it remains a classical best-seller. The novel’s subject is relevant and captivating today and, very likely, it will be just as pertinent in 50 years from now.

Guy Montag, protagonist of the novel, lives in the futuristic United States. He is married and has a respected job. Mr. Montag is a fireman; he searches for, captures, and burns books. In his world, books are dangerous, illegal objects. One day, after conversing with an uncharacteristically lively and intelligent teen, Guy starts feeling uneasy about his work, family, and life in general. He tries to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, but it’s not simple to do in a society where critical thinking or even thinking at all is deemed subversive and abnormal. To make matters even shakier, Guy secretively saves a book from burning and brings it home – an action the cost of which can be his own life.  (Submitted by Mariya)

Borrow a copy of Fahrenheit 451 from your local Surrey Libraries branch

The book is also available in these formats: (eBook ) and (Downloadable Audiobook)

 

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

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Best book for girls about to start high school! This book was really hard to put down – the setting is very contemporary with lots of appeal for young people. I read this book out loud to my reluctant 12-year old daughter, and she begged for “one more chapter” every night. It sparked some great conversations about everyday life experiences – how friendships change, staying true to yourself, even the tricky world of texting and snapchat. I’ve recommended it to all my mom friends with daughters about to start high school. We borrowed the ebook from the library, but since then my daughter wants a copy of her own to keep and reread. This is a stand-alone book, not part of a series, but there are other great books by the same author. This author has really captured something special – I feel like I got inside the head of a young teenager and was better able to understand their joys and challenges. Not too preachy. Not too sugar-coated or scary. Just right. (Submitted by Sara)

Borrow a copy from your local Surrey Libraries branch!

An eBook version is also available.

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

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This Dark Endeavour is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always a bit skeptic about prequels that are written a century or more after the initial novel. Yet, this book is a pleasant surprise: it is believable (as if indeed it is the real pre-story to Frankenstein). This Dark Endeavour is like a triple-flavoured ice-cream. The novel literally has lots of layers: history, science, magic, love, integrity – just to name a few. All of these subjects are covered deeply enough to create a sense of realism, but not too deep to instill a sense of boredom. Kenneth Oppel does a marvelous job depicting 18th century Europe: I submerged into it head and toes! There is never a dull moment; the novel is always moving forward. There are three main characters: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein (twin brothers) and their cousin Elizabeth. The three of them grew up together and were happy playmates until they reached their adolescent years. Very soon, they learn too many things at once: love and friendship don’t always go together, jealousy knows no boundaries, passion and duty are often on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there is never a good or smart way to outwit death… (Submitted by Mariya)

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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While I think you are either a Jodi Picoult fan or you definitely aren’t, I still recommend her latest novel. What draws me to all of her books is the character development and honesty she can relay to make the reader feel like they know the true thoughts and intentions of all the characters.  This novel deals with race issues.  And, I know, there’s a lot out there right now, but I guarantee you, you haven’t read one like this. A competent labour and delivery nurse faces racial prejudices when an extremist couple refuses to allow her to care for their child; nurse gets put in a situation that she is the only medical staff available when the couple’s child is dying.  Queue an unlawful firing and a court case, but the details and reactions are far from cookie cutter plots!  This book challenged my own thoughts about race, and I thought I knew where I stood! (Submitted by Marnie)

This book is available for borrowing in multiple formats; take your pick!

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me-before-youMe Before You has an unusual twist which really saves the novel from being another redundant Jane Eyre-Cinderella type of story.

Louisa Clark is a simple girl with down-to-earth expectations of life. She is from a working class family, living in a little town. At a first glance, she is unremarkable, except for her peculiar tastes in fashion. However, when you get to know Lou, you see that she has such a vibrant personality: her liveliness, optimism, perseverance, and kindness can fuel the universe for years to come!

William Traynor is a handsome, successful, daring, witty, and rich young man.

Lou and Will would have been a cliche-perfect romantic pair. But, here is where the author takes matters into her hands and writes an unexpected destiny for the couple. Will ends up in a road accident that leaves him a quadriplegic. Ironically, that’s when the beauty of the story kicks in.

After you are done with the book, borrow a movie! Still want more? Get the sequel – After You.

Surrey Libraries have them all: the book, the movie, and the sequel. Just drop by your local branch! (Submitted by Mariya)

 

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

america's first daughterAmerica’s First Daughter is a fine specimen of historical fiction genre: superbly researched historic facts, artfully woven together events and people, and seamless delivery of the story. From the first page to the last, you can hear the clear and powerful voice of Martha (Patsy) Jefferson, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the United States of America and the author of The Declaration of Independence. It was hard to believe that the book is written by two authors: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. Their literary symbiosis created a stunningly good book that has one voice, one story, and a sense of wholeness. Bravo!

The novel focuses primarily on Patsy Jefferson, yet there is naturally much attention and exposure given to Thomas Jefferson as well. There are plenty of moments where you may find yourself struggling to solve, alongside with characters, the many philosophical, psychological, and moral issues that come up in life. You will reflect on what it is really like to be a president’s daughter.

From Parisian balls to dish scrubbing, from being admired by the finest men in high class society to ending up with a drunkard husband, from having a loving mother and sisters to losing them, from having a role-model of a father to worrying sick about her father’s reputation, Patsy Jefferson, like a Statue of Liberty that came alive, with stone strong determination overcomes all obstacles and gracefully contributes another chapter to the history of America and its people. (Submitted by Mariya)

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