Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Image result for help for the haunted book coverThis winter I read a different kind of Christmas story: Help for the Haunted by John Searles. The book follows the young, virtuous and strident Sylvie, who has recently lost her infamous ghost-hunting parents in a mysterious incident just before Christmas. Sylvie witnessed their murders, but wonders if perhaps the wrong man has been convicted for the crime.  Avoiding the eye of her emotionally stunted and manipulative older sister, Sylvie must endure the horrors of her teenage years with no parents, as well as attempt to piece together the truth of who they were and what happened to them in a twisted, taciturn series of events that has stuck with me. Though I initially was attracted to the book for its classification as a horror novel (it isn’t scary, by the way!), I couldn’t put it down for the truly enthralling mystery and unusual subject matter. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a darker (slightly paranormal) mystery. (Submitted by Mandi).

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The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood

Image result for book that matters most book coverAva is a middle-aged woman whose content, suburban life has quietly come apart. Her husband has left her for another woman; she suspects her troubled daughter Maggie is making poor decisions while studying in Florence; and her son is far away in Africa. When Ava’s best friend Cate convinces her to join the library’s book club, Ava is dubious about how much it will help. Of course, the power of books is not to be underestimated, especially when the book club’s yearly theme is revealed: each month, a member will choose the book that mattered most to him/her in their life.

Not just a comforting book about books; this book has surprising depth. The characters are flawed and more human than I expected, and there were quite a few layers to the plot. I especially liked the different perspectives of Ava and Maggie. The loose ends were all tied up a bit too neatly and prettily (and improbably, in a few cases) but that’s what makes a comforting read comforting. A totally enjoyable read, perfect for a snowy, relaxing day off! (Submitted by Veronica).

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Dragon Books for All Ages

Image result for dealing with dragonsImagine having a dragon for a friend: powerful and perhaps capricious, but with your best interests at heart.  I have a favourite dragon friend book for every age.  For younger readers (maybe 8 and up) I recommend Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series, about a Princess who decides she’d rather live with the dragons than the princes.  As a teenager, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger was my very favourite book.  Once I read it through twice on the same day.  Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight is one of the best dragon friend books for adults, and there are plenty of other books set in her world, Pern, to keep you busy for a while. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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Shelter by Jung Yun

Image result for shelter by jung yun cover imageShelter by Jung Yun is an intense and emotionally charged read that will grip the reader from start to finish. The story revolves around a young man dealing with the fallout of a home invasion attack on his parents. Intricately layered, dark and disturbing, and powerfully gripping, I could relate to the main character’s struggle to balance his family obligations with his feelings of guilt. (Submitted by Alan).

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Calvin by Martine Leavitt

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Calvin is a brilliant 17 year old who has procrastinated much too long on his final English and biology projects. Recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, he decides to undertake an epic pilgrimage across Lake Erie along with childhood friend Susie and the hallucination of a 10 foot tiger named Hobbes to convince Bill Watterson to write one more strip of Calvin & Hobbes.  Thoughtful and heartfelt. (Submitted by Meghan W).

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God in Pink by Hasan Namir

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War torn Iraq in 2003 is a brutal time and place to be queer and Muslim. Ramy is facing a forced marriage to please his family and seeks guidance from Ammar. Ammar is a sheikh who thought he knew exactly what he should be doing and what the Qur’an dictates on the subject of homosexuality when Ramy’s letter and some angels complicate his life. Unflinching violence and no easy answers greet readers willing to engage with this text from Iraqi-Canadian author Hasan Namir. A Lambda Literary Award finalist. (Submitted by Meghan W).
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Blind Sight by Carol O’Connell

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The main character in this story is Kathy Mallory, who prefers to be known as Mallory, a highly intelligent police detective in New York. She grew up on the streets and is not only street savvy but her high IQ leads her to solving crimes in a unique and sometimes “off the books” type of way. The latest case is that of a possible serial killer who has, perhaps inadvertently, kidnapped a witness, only to find that the witness, a young boy, was blind.  Jonah, the kidnap victim shows us that being blind doesn’t mean you miss out on what life has to offer. Smells, touch, sense (wind, heat, taste) all contribute to a very vivid circumstance that Jonah is determined to overcome. What is the kidnapper/killer to do with him?  Will Mallory find the boy alive or dead? As more and more secrets are revealed, from the rich to the poor, the politically mighty to the Catholic church, Mallory and the New York police are racing against time.   A well-written interwoven tale that keeps you guessing page turn after page turn. (Submitted by Jamie).

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