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Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalists Announced

September 27, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

The shortlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced on September 26. The prize is awarded for the best fiction published in English in the year. Both novels and short story collections are considered.

These six books are finalists for the $100,000 prize: 

13 ways of looking at a fat girl Best kind of people Do not say we have nothing

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
eBook

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
eBook

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
eBook

Party wall Wonder Yiddish for pirates

The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux
eBook

The Wonder by Emma Donahue
Audiobook
eBook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin
eBook

The winner will be announced on November 7.

Related post:

Two Canadians on Man Booker Shortlist

September 13, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

Two Canadian authors are finalists for the prestigious Man Booker Prize this year. Montreal native David Szalay, currently based in Hungary, is nominated for All that Man is, a series of stories looking at nine different stages in the lives of men from ages 17-73. Madeleine Thien, a Vancouver native now based in Montreal, has been winning praise for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing which examines recent Chinese history through the lives of music students. It has also been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Also noteworthy this year is His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, a novel about a 19th century murder. It was released by a small independent Scottish publisher.

All that man is Do not say we have nothing Eileen

All that Man is by David Szalay
eBook

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
eBook

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
eBook
Large Print

 

His bloody project Hot milk Sellout

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
eBook

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
• This book is not currently available in Canada. The library will get copies as soon as possible.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
• eBook

The winner will be announced on October 25, 2016.

Related post:

2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize

September 7, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

The longlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced on September 7. The prize is awarded for the best fiction published in English in the year. Both novels and short story collections are considered for the $100,000 prize.

Twelve books are on the longlist: 

13 ways of looking at a fat girl By gaslight Best kind of people Death valley

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
eBook

By Gaslight by Steven Price
Audiobook
eBook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
eBook

Death Valley by Susan Perly

Do not say we have nothing Party wall Pillow Stranger

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
eBook

The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux
eBook

Pillow by Andrew Battershill
eBook

Stranger by David Bergen

Two of us Willem de kooning Wonder Yiddish for pirates

The Two of Us by Kathy Page
eBook

Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush by Kerry Lee Powell
eBook

The Wonder by Emma Donahue
Audiobook
eBook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin
eBook

The finalists will be revealed on September 26 and the winner will be announced at a gala on November 7.

2016 Aurora Awards Winners Announced

August 17, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced the winners of its annual Aurora Awards on Saturday. 

Daughter of no nation

Best Novel:

A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica
eBook

Toronto author, A.M. Dellamonica is this year's winner for the second entry in her Hidden Sea Tales series, about a young woman with connections to both Earth and Stormwrack, a colourful parallel world of sailors, pirates and adventure.

 

 

 

Inheritance of ashes

Best YA Novel:

An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
eBook

The land has been ravished in a terrible war but the evil God has been defeated. Now sisters Hallie and Marthe wait on their family farm to see who will return from the battle. Marthe's husband has not come back, but another veteran arrives seeking shelter. Is the farm safe? Is the war truly over?

 

 

Waters of versailles

 Best Short Fiction

Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson
eBook

This novella is available as an eBook. It is also included in the anthology, The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, volume 10, currently available at the Merril Collection.

 

 

 

Lady paranorma

Best Graphic Novel

The Lady ParaNorma by Vincent Marcone

Based on Marcone's short film, this is a stunningly beautiful, nearly wordless book about a woman who communicates with ghosts. Check out the book trailer to get a sense of the work.

 

 

 

The Association presents awards in a number of other categories including art and fan-created works. The complete list of winners is available on the Aurora website.

August 7th is Psychic Day

August 4, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (1)

But you knew that, didn't you? 

These novels feature characters with psychic abilities. 

Firebird Ink and bone Leaving time Shut eye

The Firebird by Susannah Kearsley
Audiobook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Nicola Marter sees past events when she touches an object. After she has a vision of Catherine the Great as she touches a carved bird, she decides to investigate further.

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
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eAudiobook
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Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
A young woman who has inherited her grandmother's psychic abilities may be the only one who can help a missing child.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Audiobook
eAudiobook
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Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
A 13-year-old joins forces with a discredited television psychic and a washed-up detective to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance ten years earlier.

The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer
eAudiobook
eBook
Large Print
Four-year-old Daniel Buck went missing several months ago, leaving his father guilt-ridden and his mother barely clinging to sanity. She turns to a psychic for help but is he real or simply exploiting the vulnerable? Belinda Bauer's thrillers are excellent.

You Are Being Watched: Books about Artificial Intelligences

July 28, 2016 | Andrea | Comments (4)

Earlier this week, a cherubic spiky-haired robot named Ludwig made his debut at a Toronto retirement home. Designed by a team of U of T researchers, he can carry conversations and analyze speech patterns to help detect Alzheimer's disease. Ludwig's creators are hopeful that after a trial period, the artificial intelligence can be fine-tuned for eventual mass production.

Whether this is a stepping stone into a Jetsons-esque future filled with robots to cook and clean and care for us, who can say for sure? It is certainly fun to speculate, though. We often imagine AIs (artificial intelligences) as villainous in fiction, perhaps reflecting how humans strive to create technology to improve our lives, but also struggle with a deep-seated anxiety about machines supplanting us. In Neil Gaiman's new book of collected non-fiction, The View from the Cheap Seats, there's a thought-provoking piece in which he discusses three questions at the heart of speculative storytelling: the ones that begin with what if, if only, and if this goes on. Last month, an AI called ALPHA defeated an experienced pilot in an air combat simulator. If this goes on… well, we've seen the movies.

"Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history," Stephen Hawking and a group of fellow scientists told us. "Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks." Fiction allows us to explore "cautionary worlds" and consider real life implications and consequences. For example, "You are being watched" is the unsettling warning that opens each episode of Person of Interest, a cerebral sci-fi drama about all-seeing machines that index, order and control our lives. Over the course of its five-season run, the show masqueraded as a standard procedural while digging deep into themes of surveillance and sentience, slowly escalating into a war between two artificial superintelligences and their human agents.

In the June series finale, our ragtag team of protagonists made one last effort to destroy Samaritan, the ruthless ASI bent on razing civilization to protect it. But saving the world requires sacrifice, and not all heroes emerge unscathed from the battle. Here are more stories where you can get emotionally invested in AIs and the characters who fight for or against them:

Alex and Ada Vol 1 by Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna  Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson  Speak by Louisa Hall  Zer0es by Chuck Wendig


Alex + Ada, Volume 1 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn  

Want to read about sweet and supportive robots instead of sinister ones? This graphic novel is the unlikely love story of a lonely human and an android.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson  

"With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon," tech mogul Elon Musk warned us. Both he and Hawking have signed an open letter calling for responsible oversight to maximize the societal benefits of AI. But as readers snug in the safety of our imagination, we don't want to avert the scenario in the title of this novel — we want the action and thrills of a machine takeover. (Steven Spielberg was previously attached to a film adaptation, but the project was delayed, possibly because Skynet put a stop to it.)

Speak by Louisa Hall

Embark on a literary voyage similar to Cloud Atlas, spanning centuries and featuring a cast that ranges from a 17th century Puritan to Alan Turing to a "babybot."

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Five hackers find more than they bargained for in the depths of cyberspace when they are recruited by the government to work on an off-the-books project. 

 

Classic novels: 

2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov  The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick  Neuromancer by William Gibson
      

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Astronauts aboard the Discovery One begin to suspect that something is amiss with HAL 9000, the AI running the spaceship's systems.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

This collection of short stories examines the relationship between humans and robots, and the applications (and loopholes!) of the Three Laws of Robotics. 

The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

Person of Interest is based on the same premise as this short story: what if a machine were able to predict and prevent crimes before they occur?

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Hailed by many as the definitive cyberpunk novel, this dystopic conspiracy thriller inspired and informed a great deal of modern science fiction, including The Matrix.

Man Booker Longlist 2016

July 27, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

This year's Man Booker Prize longlist was released on July 27, 2016. Thirteen books were nominated. Madeleine Thien and David Szalay are the Canadian representatives on the longlist. Thien's book Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a powerful family saga set during China's Cultural Revolution. It is narrated by a woman now living in Vancouver who describes her relationship with her musician father and the impact of repression on the lives of two generations. Hungary-based David Szalay was born in Montreal. All That Man Is is a collection of nine short stories that portray men at different parts of life. 

The longlist:

All that man is Do not say we have nothing Eileen

All that Man is by David Szalay
eBook

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
eBook

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
eBook
Large Print

 

His bloody project Hot milk Hystopia

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae
• This book is not currently available in Canada. The library will get copies as soon as possible.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
• This book is not currently available in Canada. The library will get copies as soon as possible.

Hystopia by David Means
eBook

 

The-many My name is lucy barton North water

The Many by Wyl Menmuir
• This book is not currently available in Canada. The library will get copies as soon as possible.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Audiobook
eAudiobook
eBook
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

The North Water by Ian McGuire
eBook

Schooldays of jesus Sellout Serious sweet Work like any other

The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
• eBook

Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy
• This book is not currently available in Canada. The library will get copies as soon as possible.

Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves
Audiobook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

The shortlist will be revealed on September 13.

The winner will be announced on October 25. 

I'm Always Hungry and other stories of my life

July 20, 2016 | Soheli | Comments (2)

I'm always hungry. It's true. Grazing, snacking, gorging -- I'll take it all, thank you very much.

When I searched "always hungry" into our library catalogue, I found this title:

Always Hungry?: Conguer cravings, retrain your fat cells, and lose weight permanently by David Ludwig, 2016

I mean, sure, great answer to a question I didn't exactly ask, but, really, it's July. I don't think about dieting and retraining anything until at least October. And even then, after Thanksgiving.

I did think this looked like kind of a fun memoir, however, about a self-professed, 'fat vegan'. Author Jasmin Singer notes, Oreos are, in fact, vegan and deep-fried tofu can be downright delicious.

Always Too Much and Never Enough: a Memoir by Jasmin Singer, 2016

There are so many books about food - whether it's our relationship with it, the ways we prepare it, and how it can really affect our lives - it's hard to choose just a few. Here are just a smattering of titles that are sure to get your mouth watering, heart melting and mental gears turning.

 

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, 2014

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister, 2013

 

In a follow up to Bauermeister's title, The School of Essential Ingredients (Large Print link), comes The Lost Art of Mixing

From Bon Appetit Magazine:

"[The Lost Art of Mixing is] about a chef and the cooking class she holds at her restaurant. We pick up again as the chef turns her attention to her own search for love, and is drawn into the lives of her regulars and co-workers. If you’ve ever wondered whether the chef at your regular joint thinks about you, this may be for you."

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown, 2013

 

(I tried to choose between the two covers, but both were so great.)

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail. Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure's adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade/1001 Arabian Nights story turned on its head, at sea, with food.

The same article from Bon Appetit mentioned also included a recipe from this book. Pirate-style desserts, anyone? Yum!

Vanilla Rose Amaretti 
Prep time 15 minutes. Total time 1 hour.

Owen Wedgwood was obliged to make his own rose extract from the flower scraps in a stolen potpourri. You can find rose extract in specialty groceries or online. In a pinch, food-grade essential rose oil will work as well–simply replace the rose extract with one drop of rose essential oil; a little goes a long way.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut, packed
3/4 cup almond flour, packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut butter
1 tablespoons almond butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons rose extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl combine ingredients with a fork until well mixed. Using your hands, squeeze dough into plum-sized dollops and distribute evenly on the tray. You may need to rinse your hands with warm water if they become too sticky.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate the tray. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

 

A few more non-fiction titles and memoirs:

Finding the Flavors We Lost by Patric Kuh, 2016

In Memory of Bread: a Memoir by Paul Graham, 2016

Can we all just take a moment to recognize the beauty and grace that is bread?
After being diagnosed with celiac disease at age 36, Paul Graham was certainly forced to.

In writing that is effortless and engaging, Paul explores why incidences of celiac disease is on the rise while also grappling with an identity crisis--given that all his favourite pastimes involved wheat in some form. His honest, unflinching, and at times humorous journey towards health and acceptance makes an inspiring read.

 

Honourable Mentions:

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan, 2013

One of my most memorable things from the documentary series of the same name was a quote from Harry Balzer, who encourages us to eat - eat it all! - but the catch? You gotta make it yourself.
"Eat whatever you want, as long as you’ve cooked it yourself." – Harry Balzer

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs, 2008

Seconds by Brian Lee O'Malley, 2014

 

Bad Mama: Questionable Parenting in Fiction

June 10, 2016 | Soheli | Comments (0)

As I slowly prepare for the end of my life as I know it impending parenthood, I can't help but sometimes get totally panicked about what makes a good parent. I mean, we can all think of moms and dads we idealize. Whether it was your best friend's mom who had the good snacks on hand, or that awesome step-dad who came to every baseball game, many of us have a vision of what it means to be good at parenting.

But, of course, as many have come forward to assure me, there really are no perfect parents. After all, we're all only human and bound to make mistakes. When I look back at some of the books I've read, I definitely can think of some moms and dads that are probably a little further out on the spectrum of parenting than others. Some of these characters are downright nasty, while others have their 'goodness' twisted in more complicated ways.

Check out some titles that look at some not-so-perfect parents.

 

Mary Jones in Push by Sapphire, 1996

Even if you haven't read Push, you may recall hearing about the movie, Precious, that came out some time ago based on it. Both the movie and the novel got overwhelming critical praise, not only for the brutally honest content, but for the stark, no-holds-barred language. Protagonist Precious Jones is sixteen, uneducated, and living in Harlem. She's also pregnant again by her father. Her mother, the verbally, physically and sexually abusive Mary Jones is connected to her daughter only through the welfare checks her existence allows. Mary is neglectful of basically all of Precious' needs and has been for years. Despite all this, Precious finds encouragement in an inspiring teacher and learns to turn her experiences into something brighter than she could even imagine.

 

Eva Khathadourian in We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, 2003

I'm always a little torn when I consider Eva's character in this book. In a series of letters to her estranged husband, Eva recounts events leading up to, and after, a school massacre committed by her son, Kevin. On the one hand, Kevin, who is generally suspected to be a sociopath, is really the 'evil' character in the book. However, as readers, we slowly come to see that Eva never really felt a connection to Kevin, and in fact, has this odd adversarial relationship with him. How much of her attitude towards him from childhood helped shape his heinous crime as a teen? Could any of it have been avoided, or is this just another way of blaming the mother?

 

Corrine Dollanganger in Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, 1979

Depending on your age, you may recall this classic V.C. Andrews series that began with Flowers in the Attic. Set in the late 50s, the Dollanganger family lives happily in Pennsylvania, until a car accident claims the father's life. Deep in debt, mother Corrine moves them all to Foxworth Hall, her estranged parents' estate. Grandmother Olivia has nothing but contempt for the Dollanganger kids and exiles them to stay indefinitely in a small bedroom in the attic. They are not allowed to leave or enter any other parts of the house. It is unclear at first - all we know is that Corrine did something years ago that earned quite the wrath of her parents. She promises her kids that she will win her parents back and eventually get them all together again as a family. But, over time, Corrine loses interest in her hidden children and they are left to fend for themselves.

 

Ram Karan in An Obedient Father by Akhil Sharma, 2000

9780571313594.jpg

Ram Karan is a bumbling corrupt school official in India who lives in a slum with his widowed daughter and young grand-daughter. As the primary bribe-collector for his department, he's stuck trying to hide his ways when the soon-to-be Prime Minister is murdered and the entire country is thrown into chaos. But it's not just his professional life at risk. When his daughter unveils a long-buried family secret, we are forced to consider the many faces of Ram. Is he a devoted family man overwhelmed with guilt? Or is he the worst type of man imaginable?

 

Ismail Boxwala in Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor, 2011

Ismail Boxwala made one terrible mistake once in his life. On a hot summer day in Toronto, he forgot his infant daughter in the backseat of his car. Twenty years after her death, divorced and isolated, he is still haunted. As he slowly begins to connect with some of the other compelling characters in the novel, we have no choice but to wonder: is there any coming back from an event like this? Is redemption even possible when our actions have led to such terrible consequences? Farzana Doctor creates complex, multi-dimensional characters in this immensely memorable second novel that really has us questioning the nature of parenting.

 

For more classic titles about bad parents, check out Lynn's previous post: Good Mothers vs. Bad Mothers

 

The Tom Hiddleston Book Club

May 30, 2016 | Viveca | Comments (3)

Tom-Hiddleston-1

[photograph by Charlie Gray, Shortlist Media Inc]

The only thing better than a photo of Tom Hiddleston staring into your soul while sporting an elegant suit, is a photo of him doing this while holding a cat. Hiddleston, a British actor with a Cambridge and RADA pedigree, glides from the Shakespearean stage into the Marvel comic book universe with ease -- exuding equal parts charm and menace. Thoughtful in interviews, impeccably polite, Hiddleston has amassed a legendary and loyal fan base who apparently like the cut of his jib.  

Here are some titles that would be requisite on any Tom Hiddleston Book Club list:   

Night Manager Book Cover Deep Blue Sea Book Cover War Horse Book Cover High Rise Book Cover

The Night Manager by John Le Carré. Hiddleston's role as the enigmatic Mr. Pine in the six-part television adaptation of John Le Carré's spy thriller is generally acknowledged to be his screen test for the next James Bond. 

The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan. Rattigan's 1952 stage play about post-war repression and isolation was the basis for Terence Davies' achingly beautiful film adaptation. Watch this on DVD and prepare to weep. 

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. In Steven Spielberg's film adaptation, Hiddleston plays a doomed World War I soldier along with fellow erudite Brit, Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch also has an immense fan following - when the two appeared together in this film, it almost broke the Internet. 

High-Rise by J. G. Ballard. In the upcoming film adaptation of this science-fiction classic, Hiddleston joins the residents of a luxury high-rise building who gradually withdraw from the outside world and descend into violence and debauchery.  

 Only lovers left alive Archipelago Unrelated DVD Cover Hollow Crown

Only Lovers Left Alive. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are weary vampires who cling to music, books and art in a changing world. Bibliophiles will relate to the tactile attachment to books and reading. 

Archipelago and Unrelated. Directed by Joanna Hogg. Don't miss these two intelligent indie films that explore family and personal relationships. Both star an extremely young Hiddleston. 

The Hollow Crown.  Shakespeare's histories. Hiddleston is Prince Hal, the party-time bro who becomes defender of the realm. 

Midnight in Paris DVD Cover Sidetracked Book Cover Hank Williams Book Cover  

Midnight in Paris. Directed by Woody Allen. Spot Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Hank Williams: The Biography by Colin Escott. This book was the basis for Marc Abraham's recently released I Saw the Light, a biopic about the country music legend with Hiddleston in the title role. 

Fans of Henning Mankell's mysteries should check out the Wallander series on DVD. Hiddleston plays Magnus, a young cop working under the brooding and boozy Kurt Wallander. 

Thor DVD Cover Thor The Dark World DVD Cover Marvel's The Avengers DVD Cover

Gospel of Loki Book Cover

In Thor, Thor: The Dark World, and The Avengers, Hiddleston got his breakout role as the villain Loki which launched his legendary army of fans known as Hiddlestoners.  

Recommended Reading: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. An entertaining retelling of the Norse legend.

Finally:

 

Related Links: The Benedict Cumberbatch Book Club

 

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