The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

astonishing A beautiful exploration of mental illness, family, and culture. The Astonishing Color of After takes place immediately after Leigh’s mother has committed suicide. Leigh, who is already a teenager discovering her place in the world, struggles to come to terms with what happened – and how her mother’s depression has affected both Leigh and her father. Believing that her mother’s spirit is still present, Leigh travels to Taiwan to reconnect with her estranged maternal grandparents.

This is a beautiful, thoughtful look at mental illness and grief, as well as an exploration of Taiwanese culture (the author’s background as well.) It’s also a touching reflection on family. The chapters move back in forth in time – present day Taiwan, and in the past, with flashes of memory surrounding Leigh’s mother and parents.

The subject matter here could easily become either melodramatic or saccharine, but Emily X. R. Pan has managed to write an incredibly thoughtful and balanced book that explores heavy topics with grace and a deft hand. I loved the writing, and I loved spending time with Leigh in Taiwan as she rediscovers her mother’s roots. Quietly powerful and highly recommended. (Submitted by Veronica)

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Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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It’s a science fiction novel depicting a time in the near future when a small number of people will be forced to essentially become refugees in space to preserve the human race because of a calamity that will make the earth uninhabitable.

This book had me riveted. The author does an amazing job of painting the picture of the events leading up to the necessity of humans having to escape to space. He develops the characters really well and includes twists and turns in the plot that are highly plausible in the given circumstances. It’s a lengthy novel at nearly 900 pages, so not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it. (Submitted by Seline)

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Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

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I can’t remember why I placed a hold on Tell Me More, but I’m happy that I did. On the dust jacket it cites the Huffington Post, who call her “the poet laureate of the ordinary.” This book evoked all sorts of responses from me; I laughed, I cried, I sent photos of passages to friends. It was the recounting of experiences in life that provide suggestions about how to handle heartbreaks and joys that a reader might encounter in their own life. I plan to re-visit it. (Submitted by J.Wilson)

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The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

wrathdawnThe story is centered in a middle eastern city called Khorasan, many years ago. It follows a teen girl named Shahrzad who is on a revenge seeking mission to kill the young king of Khorasan. The king has been marrying a different woman every night, and then having them murdered the next day for many months now, and he had Shahrzad’s best friend killed. Shahrzad is the first woman to volunteer to be the next bride sacrifice, and the king cannot help but wonder why this girl would give up her life. As the two start to spend more time together, Shahrzad begins to realize that there must be a reason why the king kills these women, and she is determined to find out why. I was so impressed with how strong the female characters were in the story, and how the author seemed to make a point that women are capable of saving themselves. The story has romance, suspense, action, humour, and it is a bit like Game of Thrones mixed with Aladdin but for Young Adults. A good book to read in the summer. (Submitted by Joy)

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An Honest Woman by Jónína Kirton

9781772011449 Jónína Kirton is our local poet. She is a Métis with Icelandic and Indigenous roots. It was especially interesting to read this collection of poetry because it’s modern, indigenous, and feminist. Jónína’s poems are relatable, in simple language, yet with complex meaning or, often, on complex subjects. There are poems that are filled with pain and sorrow, but when you read them – it feels like by saying and acknowledging all the heavy matters – we become lighter and calmer: accepting and forgiving. This is the true beauty of poetry: releasing our thoughts and feelings and transforming subjects into something else entirely. (Submitted by Mariya)

If you would like to meet Jónína Kirton in person and hear her story, then, feel free to register for an upcoming Authors Among Us event – Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Guildford Library. For more information, please, visit this link.

Billy Bloo is Stuck in Goo by Jennifer Hamburg

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Not only did I really like this one, my 4 year-old and his Dad loved it, too! The rhymes, the silliness, the illustrations – it’s all super. And really, I’d give it 5 stars just for the fact that it made my son randomly yell out, “IS ANYONE MISSING PANTS????” periodically. Fun fact: Jennifer Hamburg also writes for the popular children’s TV show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Submitted by Gayle)

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Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

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The Indranan War series by K.B. Wagers

Behind the Throne (Book 1)

After the Crown (Book 2)

Beyond the Empire (Book 3)

This far-future science fiction trilogy (so far) holds enticements for a range of tastes. Within the covers of each volume you will find imperial palace intrigue featuring some truly nasty villains, action-packed fights and wide-screen space battles, and complex characters negotiating interwoven relationships and learning more about themselves than they might want to know. Whew!

Interstellar gunrunner Hail Bristol is dragged unwillingly and unceremoniously back to the home from which she fled many years earlier. Her family wants her—needs her—back, and Hail has little or no choice in the matter. Turns out she is no ordinary gunrunner. Her family is the ruling dynasty of the Indranan Empire. Hail wants nothing to do with them, for complicated reasons that become clear only later in the story. But Indrana is in crisis, and Hail is their last, best hope for survival.  She’ll need all the toughness and cleverness that she has honed in her years of surviving and thriving plying her trade in the most violent corners of the galaxy. She will also need friends—but who can she trust? (Submitted by Jim W). 

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