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)

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Blue by Danielle Steel

Image result for blue by danielle steelI like Danielle Steel, when I want a quick and easy read, so I picked up one of her latest novels.  Ginny, a former TV news anchor with a painful past is now travelling the world’s most dangerous places, helping those in the direst need. On the anniversary of the tragedy of her family, she decides to end her life by jumping off the bridge into a river, but a chance encounter with a young homeless boy named Blue stops her at the last minute. She starts bonding with him, taking him in and taking care of him. Blue has no one in the whole world, except his Aunt who is not interested in taking care of him, and he does not trust that Ginny is. And on top of everything, secrets about molestations by a beloved church priest start to resurface… (Submitted by Monika).

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Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell

Yarned and Dangerous ebook by Sadie HartwellFor those who like mysteries, but not the blood, guts, gore and guns type, this book is for you. Set in an “almost” ghost town, comprised of one knitting shop, a garage and a grocery store/café; 1 accidental death plus 1 murder equals many many secrets held in this small town.  Josie arrives in town to care for her crotchety  great-uncle who needs an extra hand with farm chores until he is back on his feet again.  Josie is definitely NOT the country girl as she hails from New York, and is taking a leave from a fashion designer job. Her uncle recently lost his wife Cora, in an accident and she was the sole proprietor of the knitting shop – aptly named Miss Marple Knits. The remaining members of the Charity Knitters Association seem to be tying knots in every murder theory Josie has.  Told from a knitter’s perspective, (includes several knitting patterns),  this cozy mystery shows that when you band together, you can get things done, including solving a murder or two!  First in a series called  “ A Tangled Web Mystery”. (Submitted by Jamie).

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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Image result for today will be different book coverToday will be Different by Maria Semple is a fast-paced, adventurous, fun read. It is full of strong characters, edgy humour, crazy plot twists and delightfully descriptive text that immerse you in Seattle, New Orleans, and Aspen. In the story, Eleanor Flood, a middle-aged animator and mom of a precocious eight-year-old boy living in Seattle wakes up one day deciding that today is the day she will get out of her rut and insists that today will be different. In fact, it turns into one misadventure after another as she tries to solve the mystery of her absent husband and in the search reflects on her life and her troubled relationship with her estranged sister. Although a quick, fast paced read, Semple is able to explore the relationships between this flawed, yet immensely likeable character and her significant others to a satisfying depth. (Submitted by Michelle).

 

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The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Image result for THE SILENT WIFE BOOK COVERA friend recommended The Silent Wife after I enjoyed reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

The story is told in alternating voices of main characters, Todd, and his common-law wife Jodi.  The couple’s seemingly perfect relationship, which includes flourishing careers and a luxury waterfront condo, unravels in the aftermath of Todd’s adulterous lifestyle.

Both characters are unlikeable.  But the author’s meticulous account of Jodi’s unspoken turmoil, set against the picture perfect view from the calm of her tony surroundings, kept me turning the pages.

It is unfortunate that this Canadian author passed away from cancer just months before her first novel was published. (Submitted by TS).

 

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Jia: a novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim

Image result for BOOK COVER JIA: A NOVEL OF NORTH KOREAJia by Hyejin Kim was one of the most fascinating books I ever read about North Korea. It tells a story of a little girl, whose mother came from a very prominent family, but her father did not. As a result, the whole family was sent to a Gulag in the mountains. The father disappears and the mother dies during Jia’s birth. Jia’s paternal grandparents are given jobs at the gulag, courtesy of the maternal grandparents, and take care of their two little granddaughters. After a chance meeting with a South Korean soldier, they manage to smuggle little Jia to the capital city of Pyongyang, in hopes she can find her maternal grandparents and have a chance to live a better life. She does find them but they want nothing to do with her, so she ends up staying in the orphanage. She becomes a dancer and eventually moves to a very good job at an international hotel, joining a famous dancing ensemble. She becomes a beautiful dancer herself, just like her mother, whose name is not even mentioned in the book, and she falls in love with a young soldier. But when she shares with him where she came from, and that she’s not who he thinks she is, he is shocked and plans to report her. So, in order to avoid prosecution, Jia has to escape Pyongyang and cross over to China, where she falls into the hands of women traffickers and only a lucky meeting with a kind-hearted stranger makes it possible for her to survive. This book was very different from other books I have read on North Korea, because it is about living in Pyongyang and leading a somewhat prominent life. It was a very heartbreaking read, and I recommend that you have tissues handy. (Submitted by Monika).

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Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Many of us in our `middle ages` are dealing with aging parents in various stages of decline.  Roz Chast, the writer and New Yorker cartoonist, uses the graphic novel format to document her journey through this challenging time in her memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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From first noticing that things seem to be `falling apart`, to realizing that she must take control of the uncontrollable, and then on through moving her parents into care, and experiencing their passing, Chast weaves her story with humour, grace, and brutal honesty.

The most important messages I took from this endearing memoir are that:

  • we are not alone,
  • having a sense of humour is a survival skill, and,
  • in the midst of complicated family relationships and challenging situations there is still, always, love.

(Submitted by KS).

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