The Hunger by Alma Katsu

hungerAs a fan of both historical fiction and supernatural horror, when I heard there was a new novel out about the Donner Party, I knew I had to read it. Enter Alma Katsu’s new novel, The Hunger. Set in 1846, this novel is based on the true story of the Donner Party, a doomed group of 100 people heading to California’s fertile valley farmland by way of wagon train. As tragedy after tragedy laid waste to the group, only a handful ever made it.
The Donner wagon train contains two large wealthy families, a beautiful woman rumored to be a witch, a large Mormon family without a patriarch, and some single men, who are all leaving their family farms in Illinois hoping for a better life. As Katsu weaves her story around their lives and voices, the reader gets a good sense of just how hard it was for people on the trail to make it: they must give birth on the trail, tend to the sick, hunt their food, gather their medicine from plants, and deal with the physical act of walking nearly 12 hours per day. Though many of the group start off as strangers to one another, the reader comes to find their lives and sins are intimately connected, revealed through haunting glimpses into all of their shady pasts. As the group members begin to become aware of these connections, their camaraderie is quickly worn away. These divisions spell their doom as their environment grows more barren and a supernatural evil begins to prey on them. (No spoilers!)
This book is not for the faint of heart. It showcases the best, as well as the worst, parts of human nature when faced with a raw survival situation. Despite the difficult subject matter, I found this to be an extremely captivating read, and eager to read more about the Donner party (perhaps my next read will be a non-fiction account of this tragedy, The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party, by Daniel James Brown).  Katsu changed a lot of the real story, but she used many real life events that happened to these real people and seamlessly added a supernatural evil. The result is totally thrilling and cinematic. I eagerly await a film adaptation! (Submitted by Mandi)

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Framed! by James Ponti

framedDid you luv Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys growing up? Are your kids obsessed with solving mysteries? Then James Ponti’s new junior sleuth series may be for you or for the chapter book reading children in your life. In “Framed” (2016), readers meet two young friends, Florian and Margaret, who are not only trying to navigate the perilous waters of middle school but also trying to help the FBI solve baffling, international crimes using ‘T.O.A.S.T’, their theory of all small things. These super smart seventh graders use T.O.A.S.T. to identify the small details that adults often overlook and to develop leads that will help them catch the criminal culprits. The first two books in this captivating series, “Framed” (2016) and “Vanished” (2017) are currently in our collection and we will acquire the third book “Trapped” (2018) in this ongoing series when it’s released in late September 2018. (Submitted by Andrea)

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I know I am Precious and Sacred by Debora Abood

preciousI came upon this book by accident, while searching for something else. But, as you all probably know, many of the best things in life come as a surprise and turn out to be completely different from what we were initially looking for. When I saw this picture book, the title got hold of my attention and I started reading it. Inside, there is a powerful voice that is telling a child (or you, as a reader) as to why everyone is special and precious. The many reasons why every child and every being is unique and valuable are shared through a strong and flowing verse. This beautiful poetic language is accompanied by gorgeous, photography. The combination of the two gives this book a breath and a heart beat (the latter one is like a steady beat of a mini drum). Highly recommend this First Nations picture book to anyone who wants to empower a child (or anyone else!). The book is all about self-confidence, respect for others, and appreciation of life. (Submitted by Mariya)

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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

keepers

As a mystery reader and audiobook fan, I love it when both combine to create the perfect literary experience. The Keeper of Lost Causes, and other works by Jussi Adler-Olsen, are available in four formats but I highly recommend the audio narrated by Erik Davies. The Keeper of Lost Causes introduces Carl Morck, a crusty Danish cop who’s recovering from a brutal shootout  that has left one of his partners dead and the other paralyzed. Unpopular with his peers, Carl is assigned to lead the newly created Department Q in Copenhagen to work on cold cases. There he battles his superiors, his guilt, personal life, and the complex, years-old case involving the disappearance of a young female politician.

All the characters, from the victim to Morck and his quirky team, quickly develop into people you want to know more about. None disappoint as they lead you through a satisfying plot to a knuckle-whitening conclusion. The great news is that there are more titles in this series, all equally as enthralling. (Submitted by Pippa)

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Circe by Madeline Miller

circe

I am not a Greek mythology buff by any stretch of the imagination, so you can understand my reluctance to pick up this book about the Greek goddess Circe, daughter of Helios (the Sun God).  Much to my surprise however, Madeline Miller’s Circe was completely accessible. I thought, oh boy I’m going to get confused with all the long Greek mythology names and places, but I did not have any issues at all with it. In fact, I could not put the book down and would rush home just so I could keep reading it. I wanted to keep going but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end! This is a fantastic epic about a forgotten Goddess, who truly deserves this homage. Circe is the Goddess of magic who turns men into pigs. What more do you need to know? This book delves into a wonderfully constructed backstory with cameos by some of your favourite Greek gods and goddesses. Without a doubt, Circe is a spellbinding read! (Submitted by Alan)

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Solanin by Inio Asano

solanin

Solanin is a young adult manga written by Inio Asano.  First written in 2006, it has been reprinted last year with an additional epilogue.  Solanin is a critically acclaimed manga that depicts the lives of twenty-something millennials living in Japan.  The characters in the book have recently graduated from college and are attempting to find themselves and their place within Japanese society.  The prescient ennui of fretting by the characters for their futures within Japanese society permeates this manga.  The characters battle between what is expected of them by society and what they feel they should be doing with their lives.  At first the protagonists feel the choice is binary; either they should grow up and get jobs or drop out and fulfill their passion for music.  By the end of the manga we have observed the character’s growth through personal loss and see them triumph over the need to feel alive because they have recognized that their daily actions do have meaning. (Submitted by Shane)

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50 Canadians Who Changed the World by Kenneth McGoogan

50 canadians

If you’d like to explore Canada and Canadians who made a huge difference in our country and world-wide, then, look no further than Kenneth McGoogan’s 50 Canadians Who Changed the World. Very informative, well written, nicely balanced (there is just enough information and you feel completely satisfied – you don’t get bored and you don’t become overloaded with facts). Borrow now and brush up on your famous Canadians knowledge just in time for Canada Day 2018. There is plenty of time still! (Submitted by Mariya)

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