Circe by Madeline Miller

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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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The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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You think you are getting a light, ‘fast read’ kind of book when you first pick this one up, especially at the start, but once you get into it, the themes that emerge can be thought provoking. Loss is the main premise and the author gives it to us in many angles, of a child, a parent, a marriage. Even if you think this description sounds depressing, I feel Monica Wood has handled all of this with a gentle hand and humour. This book was recommended to me and I’m definitely going to recommend it to others. (Submitted by Renee)

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The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami

hero-walkAnita Rau Badami does an excellent job depicting the modern day life in India (I literally felt like a tourist submerged into the environment except there was also a good story and I didn’t have to physically travel anywhere). It focuses on one family, but a lot is tied into that one family’s journey: neighbours, traditions,  and daily routines.  Another interesting twist is the switching back and forth between Canada and India – this contrast is often very vivid (actually, just like everything in Badami’s book). You will feel the heat and smell the dust, or hear the rain gushing during the monsoon period. Fans of descriptive language will be thrilled with this novel. The drawback, to some people, it may seem longer than necessary at some parts of the book – but, tastes are just a matter of opinion.

One of the main characters in the novel is a 7 year-old girl, Nandana, who loses her parents in a car accident and has to go to India to live with her estranged grandparents. Nandana’s grandparents are internally suffocating from emotions of: grief, regret, uncertainty, failure, and frustration as they try their best to build a new life for their grandchild and fix up their own ones along the way. (Submitted by Mariya)

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My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

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This gorgeous picture book tells the story of Sami, who has had to leave his home in Syria and flee to a Refugee camp. The pictures are done in plasticine, and are so beautiful and moving. Sami had to leave behind his birds as his family ran, and he misses them so much. The story shows an gentle path towards healing both in the pictures and in the words. An eye opener for children who might never have heard of Refugee camps and what it means to be a refuge and leave your home. (Submitted by Sharleen)

 

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Bad Ideas by Michael V. Smith

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Poetry can seem intimidating, especially if you were scarred by it in english class in high school. But Michael V. Smith’s latest collection of poems, Bad Ideas is very accessible and richly rewarding: reading his poems feels like watching a beautiful rainbow, his words wash over you in waves of colourful emotions – joy, sadness, grief, and humour. His poetry is not weighed down by oblique references or excess verbiage: he speaks plainly and from his personal experience dealing with family trauma, lost loved ones and long-distance friends. Bad Ideas is a great introduction to poetry in the 21st century.  (Submitted by Andrea)

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H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

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Enjoyed reading this book of nonfiction, which has three story-lines. The first storyline involves the author’s lifelong fascination with the sport of falconry, and how she comes to own and train a goshawk named Mabel. The book is also a memoir of grief: MacDonald makes the decision to purchase and train Mabel as she deals with the sudden death of her father, which leaves her lost and unmoored. Yet another storyline is a sort of mini-biography of TH White, the author best known for writing The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone. As well as these Arthurian novels, White wrote a work of non-fiction titled The Goshawk about trying and ultimately failing to train a hawk. MacDonald writes about White’s tortured life, and how his own struggles and shortcomings impacted his efforts to train his hawk. You’ll enjoy this if you like literary fiction or non-fiction, memoirs, or well-written nature writing. (Submitted by David)

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