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Canada Reads 2015: Breaking Down Barriers

January 25, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

CR2015-banner-NOSPONSOR-FINAL-thumb-620x113-393415Canada Reads, the annual battle of the books, is challenging stereotypes, introducing new perspectives and breaking barriers with its 2015 competition. This year the contest will consider books about teenage sexuality, immigration and Aboriginal treatment. 

The debates, broadcast on CBC radio, take place March 16-19 and will be hosted by Wab Kinew. 

Andthebirdsraineddown-220 The inconvenient indian Intolerable 2 Ru kim thuy When everything feels like the movies

And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins
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A pair of octogenarians who have cut ties with civilization to live in Northern Ontario have their solitude interrupted by a photographer who is searching for survivors of a horrific fire many years earlier and an elderly escapee from a mental institution. The winner of numerous awards, it will be championed by Martha Wainwright.

The Inconvenient Indian: a Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
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King explores the history of European settlement in North America from the earliest contact to the present, concentrating on the treatment of First Nations peoples. This witty, thought-provoking book was the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize in 2014. Craig Kielburger is its defender.

Intolerable: a Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee
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Born in Yemen, Al-Solaylee and his family went into exile in Cairo and Beirut before returning to their homeland. As the Middle East became more restrictive, Al-Solaylee, a gay man, realized that there was no place for him there. He received a scholarship to study in the UK and later emigrated to Canada. The memoir won the 2013 Toronto Book Award. Kristin Kreuk will champion the book for Canada Reads. 

Ru by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman
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Nguyen An Tinh enjoys a privileged childhood in Saigon but when she is 10 years old, her family flees Viet Nam and the war, landing first in a Malaysian refugee camp and then Canada. Based upon the author's own experiences, the novel won the 2010 Governor General's Award for French Language Fiction; the English translation was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012. It will be defended by Cameron Bailey.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
eBook
The novel, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature in 2014, was inspired by the true story of Lawrence Fobes King, an openly gay teen who was shot and killed by a classmate inside an Oxnard California high school. The book will be defended by Elaine Lui. 

Join broadcaster Mary Ito at Toronto Reference Library for the launch of Canada Reads on March 4, 2015, 7-8 PM.

Tickets and more information 

How to Break All Your New Year's Resolutions.

January 16, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

According to the Toronto Star, only about half of the Canadians who made a New Year's resolution for 2012 made it a whole month. Around 20% kept committed the full year. Although we can hope our resolve has grown a bit stronger, it's probably safe to say a lot of our resolutions made this year will fall by the wayside too (sorry, glass-half-full folks...) If you're looking for ways to keep some of your well-intended resolutions, check out some posts from other library bloggers:

New Year's Resolutions - from the Albert Campbell District Blog

Why I Did (Not) Make a Resolution This Year - from the Health and Wellness Blog

But if you're here to read about how the things we resolve to do often go awry, you're in the right place.

Here are five of the most common New Year's resolutions and some books about characters that probably didn't quite keep them...

1. Lose Weight

How To Be CoolHow to Be Cool
by Johanna Edwards

Losing weight is probably one of the most frequently mentioned resolutions that people set. It's also one of the most unsuccessful.
Kylie Chase would know.

Even after losing 75 pounds and reinventing herself as a chic image consultant, she still feels like the overweight girl she was.
When she is forced to move back in with her parents and the pounds start to pack on again, Kylie must learn what it really takes to feel good in your own skin.
 

2. Quit Smoking

The ButtThe Butt
by Will Self

I'm not sure if Tom Brodzinksi ever really made an effort to quit smoking, but maybe he should have. After all, it's when he carelessly flicks his cigarette ash off a balcony that his life starts to take a turn for the worst.

In this experimental novel, Will Self sends us on a journey with Tom to right his wrongs in a strange, dystopian world.

  

3. Spend more time with family

The Other Way AroundThe Other Way Around
by Sashi Kaufman
Teen fiction

The holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry with your family. But for Andrew West, he'll do just about anything to escape his overbearing parents and relatives.

Instead of joining his family for Thanksgiving, he decides to run away and join the circus...kind of. What starts out as a care-free way of living turns out to be a whole lot more complicated when he meets a band of street performer 'Freegans'.

 

4. Get out of debt

Ravens

Ravens
by George Dawes Green

Shaw and Romeo didn't have a whole lot going for them. They were just looking for something to take them far away from their mind-numbing tech jobs in Ohio. When they stop at a small convenience store somewhere in Georgia, they discover that a multi-million dollar lottery ticket was just sold there -- and they just found who the big winners are. Shaw and Romeo might just get rich a whole lot faster...if their plan works.

  

5. Get more organized

Objects of my affectionObjects of my Affection
by Jill Smolinski

Lucy Bloom may be going through a rough time, but she's determined to start fresh. When she's offered a high-paying job as a personal organizer for an eccentric painter, she's confident that this will help her get her life back on track.

But the reclusive Marva is on a whole new level of disorganization: she's a compulsive hoarder who refuses to let go of the items that have accumulated in her home over the years. Lucy and Marva must work together if they're ever going to get Marva out from under. 


If you've already started to abandon some of your resolutions for 2015, remember that it's not too late to try again if it's something you really want to do. (I consider all of January a grace period for resolutions anyway.) If you haven't made any just yet, here's a simple one to start: read five books you haven't read before...

January is Hot Tea Month

January 15, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Last night, I stopped on the way home from work to get a cup of coffee. It took a little bit longer than usual because the man ahead of me was upset because his usual tea blend had been discontinued. He vented for a good long time before he settled on a new drink. 

How appropriate that January is Hot Tea Month.

Tea is the perfect accompaniment to a good book, so make yourself a cup and settle down with one of these novels about tea.

Chai tea sunday Colour of tea Tea for three Tea shop on lavender lane Travelling tea shop

Chai Tea Sunday by Heather A. Clark
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Emotionally devastated following a tragedy, Nicky Fowler takes comfort from working at a Kenyan orphanage and life lessons over chai tea from Mama Bu.

The Colour of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe
Grace Miller is living in Macau in a marriage that has lost its spark. On a whim, she decides to open a café offering tea and macarons that becomes a gathering place for people from all walks of life.

Tea for Three by Laura Childs
Mysteries and murder complicate the life of tea shop owner Theodosia Browning. Contains the first three volumes in Childs' Tea Shop Mystery series: Death by Darjeeling, Gunpowder Green and Shades of Earl Grey.

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts
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After her Los Angeles catering business closes, Bailey Sterling returns to her Icicle Falls, WA hometown to regroup. She teams up with handsome Todd Black to open a tea shop in town, causing friction with her sister Cecily, who is dating Todd.

The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones
Travel planner Laurie Davis is commissioned to organize an American trip for famed UK chef Pamela Lambert-Leigh who is writing a cookbook about traditional US cakes.

Coffee lovers may want to check out this post from January 2012:

Sneak Peek of John Vaillant's book "The Jaguar's Children"

January 2, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon winter season opens on January 13 with a program featuring award-winning author John Vaillant. He will be appearing with CBC broadcaster Gill Deacon to discuss his work.

The Jaguar's ChildrenAlready the author of two best-selling non-fiction books, Vaillant's first novel, The Jaguar's Children, will be published on January 6. It has already received starred reviews in Kirkus and Library Journal and has been favourably compared to the literary thrillers of John le Carré. Joseph Boyden describes it as "a literary mystery, an engrossing tour de force, and a brilliant commentary on humanity’s role in the physical world".

It tells the story of thirteen Mexicans attempting to cross the US border illegally who have been abandoned in a sealed truck with limited food and water by the coyotes who have been transporting them. Hérbert Gonzalez, is among them. As he uses his friend César's cellphone to get help, he tells the story of his life and how he came to be in this horrible situation.

Intrigued? Read the first chapter.

Discuss the excerpt and anything else about books on Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online book club.

The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant is published by Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada.

Tickets and additional event information

A Book is a Gift You Can Open Again and Again

December 27, 2014 | Andrea | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The holidays can be harrowing. Were you among those with the fortitude to brave the Boxing Day battlefields, or did you take a vacation from jingling around the clock? Whether you found a stack of books under your tree, picked up some discounted reads at the mall, or stocked up on library goods in advance, there is no gift like spending quality time with a book and a cup of cocoa or tea over the winter break. Perhaps you're even reading one of these "most gifted" titles of the season:
 
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin  Yes Please by Amy Poehler  You Are Here by Chris Hadfield

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

Atwood's new collection of short stories includes one featuring some familiar characters from The Robber Bride.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand

Louis Zamperini's death and the film adaptation of this biography has renewed interest in his painful, powerful story.

The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Hardcore fans of the fantasy series will be delighted by the gorgeous artwork of this encyclopedia and the details both amusing (Lords Elmo and Kermit Tully!) and intriguing (all the mysterious map-edge lands, from Asshai to Yi Ti).

Yes Please
by Amy Poehler

The comedy queen shares her experiences and insights, offering readers witty wisdom about showbiz, marriage, parenting and more.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield

An eye-opening photo essay from everyone's favourite astronaut.

Are any of these the last title on your 2014 reading list? The year is drawing to a close, but there's still time to complete the Book Buzz Reading Challenge for your chance to win a prize!

Calling all Whovians

December 19, 2014 | Lynn | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

As a fan of Doctor Who, I am looking forward to the Christmas special airing this Christmas Day on the Space channel. This has become an annual tradition in my house as it is for Whovians (fans of Doctor Who) the world over. For the unintiated this series is a popular British television show that ran from 1963 to 1989 and came back to television in 2005 and continues to be popular today. The series is on it's 13th doctor and each fan has their favourite Doctor.  

To help gear up for the special, Toronto Public Library has a substantial number of materials for fans to discover in book form, short stories, DVD, eBooks, eAudiobooks, graphic novels and some books that can only be discovered at the Merril Collection which is housed in Lillian H. Smith branch. I will highlight a few from each format and I encourage fans, new and faithful, to discover the full extent of our collections.

Books

Doctor Who - Shada  The Doctor's lives and times  Doctor Who the secret lives of monsters

Doctor Who: Shada : the Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams

This is Douglas Adams completing the story of Shada, the episode that never made it to air. This is based on Adams' script.

Doctor Who: the Doctor's lives and times

To get the gossip on the man who has saved the Earth countless times from his closest friends and letters, this is a must read.

Doctor Who: the secret lives of monsters

If you are keen to add to your knowledge of the Doctor then this book will provide details relating to the Doctor's enemies.  

Short Stories

Doctor Who short stories

Doctor Who: 11 doctors 11 stories

Short stories brought to you by the leading sci fi authors of the era.

DVDs

Doctor Who the time of the doctor  Doctor Who the snowmen  Doctor Who the complete fourth series

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

This is last year's Christmas special which marked the 800th episode of the series and was a critically acclaimed episode.

Doctor Who: The Snowmen

This is the 2012 Christmas special with some old favourites returning for this special.

Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series

The Doctor and Donna run around time and space encountering Pompeii, Agatha Christie and the universe's largest library.

eAudiobooks

Doctor Who and the cave monsters  Doctor who and the terror of the autons  Doctor who planet of the daleks

Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters 

This is a novelization of an old episode and introduces the Silurians, a reptilian race who used to dominate the Earth.

Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons 

This novelization features the Doctor against the Master, the only other Time Lord in existence.

Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks 

This is a novelization of the Doctor again battling those he fought in the Great Time War, the Daleks who seek to simply exterminate with great prejudice. 

Graphic novels

Doctor who prisoners of time  Star Trek the next generation Doctor Who Assimilation

Doctor Who Prisoners of Time

This graphic novel features all 11 doctors in their own stories.

Star Trek the next generation, Doctor Who Assimilation, Volume 1

This is fan favourite crossover of two popular franchises, Star Trek and Doctor Who facing off against the Borg and Cybermen. 

Merril Collection

Doctor Who the caves of Androzani  Doctor Who the writer's tale  Doctor Who the infinity doctors

Doctor Who The caves of Androzani

This is the novelization of an 1985 episode where the Doctor must consider saving others at the cost of of one of his lives.

Doctor Who The writer's tale

This book provides an indepth look at a year on the show through the eyes of the head writer and executive producer, Russell T. Davies.

The infinity doctors

This is an original story based on the Doctor that provides the reader with a "what if" reading experience.

Please check out some of the recommendations and as the Doctor would say, "Geronimo!"

Best of 2014: Quick Picks from Goodreads

December 12, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

As we get closer to the end of the year, lists start popping up everywhere rounding up the best books of the year. I always like to take a look at reader-based selections, and the Goodreads Choice Awards is a good place to start. Here are a few of the selections from this year's list.

Best of Nonfiction
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Opposite Of Loneliness

Marina was a top notch student at Yale (summa cum laude, in fact) who died in a tragic car accident shortly after she graduated. This post-humous collection of short stories and essays she wrote are sure to get you thinking (and sobbing). For a similar title, try This Star Won't Go Out.

Best of Fiction
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

Georgie knows her marriage is getting close to its breaking point. When she can't make it home for Christmas, and her husband takes the kids without her, she realizes something must be done. She discovers that there's a way to communicate with her husband - in the past. Can she save her marriage from the beginning again? For another book about complicated relationships in trouble, try Picture Bride by C. Fong Hsiung.

Best of Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian


It's funny that I'd never heard of this book until a friend (at a crowded birthday party, nonetheless) pulled me aside and tapped his phone towards me: "Have you read this? It's AMAZING." And then he went into a corner and continued reading on that tiny screen. (I don't condone anti-social reading behaviour, but, hey, I understand it.) Described as a futuristic Cast Away meets Apollo 13, The Martian follows Mark Watney, one of the first astronauts to step onto Mars. After an accident leaves him stranded on the planet, with limited resources and no communication back to Earth, he must use everything he can to survive an impossible situation. For another literary, inter-galactic read, try Michel Faber's amazing The Book of Strange New Things.

Best of Humour
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

YesPlease


One of Saturday Night Live's most beloved alums offers advice and stories (all hilarious, of course) in her first book. Poehler dishes up anecdotes from childhood, her start in the entertainment industry, and her ongoing gig as the mom of two kids. For a similar read, try fellow SNL funny lady Tina Fey's Bossypants.

Best of Young Adult Fiction
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

WeWereLiarsa

This is one of those books that might technically be considered a young adult read, but will appeal to a much wider group of readers. It's also one of those books that's very hard to really talk about unless it's with people that have already read it (after all, we don't want to ruin it for anyone!) It's a story about secrets, friendships that change over time, and the memories we hold onto. This is also a book that seems to have you either loving it or hating it. Fellow blogger Margaret considers it exceptional, while I found it somewhat less so. Clearly, I'm in the minority, however, as this did make the Goodreads list. The only way to know how you'd feel is to read it yourself!

(Almost) Best of Poetry
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry by Anthony and Ben Holden

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

This isn't the actual winner of this category (that honour goes to Lang Leav's Lullabies). I couldn't resist putting this in anyway mostly because of its organization based on how it makes readers feel instead of what the poems are actually about. The Holden father-and-son team have compiled one hundred of the most moving poems, as selected by the poets, writers, actors, and others that love them. If you're a grown man reading this, please do let me know if you needed that box of tissues...

For the full list of Goodreads winners, check out their page. Also, don't forget that Book Buzz is on Goodreads too!

P.D. James, 1920-2014

November 27, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

PD James Cologne

Phyllis Dorothy James was born in Oxford in 1920. She left school at 16 partly because her father did not believe in higher education and partly because the family needed income. She did clerical work at a tax office and later became the assistant stage manager for a theatre group. She married Army surgeon Ernest Connor Bantry White in 1941 and they had two daughters. After World War II, White suffered from mental illness and spent much of the remainder of his life institutionalized leaving James to support the family as a hospital administrator and later in the forensic science and criminal law departments of the Home Office.

Her childhood ambition was to become a novelist but she did not start writing until she was over 40; she regretted what she viewed as "wasted years".  Her first novel Cover Her Face was published in 1962 and introduced Adam Dalgliesh, the detective poet who is featured in 14 novels.

Best known for detective fiction, she also wrote The Children of Men, a dystopian novel. Her most recent book Death Comes to Pemberley, a murder mystery inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was published in 2011.

Novelist P.D. James died peacefully at her home on November 27, 2014. She was 94.

Some of her works:

Children of men Cover her face pd james Death comes to pemberley The private patient An unsuitable job for a woman

The Children of Men
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Cover Her Face
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Death Comes to Pemberley
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The Private Patient
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An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
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Picture credit: By Benutzer:Smalltown Boy (Diskussion) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Why you should judge a book by its cover.

November 26, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

I'm guilty of reading pretty books. Chances are, you've been sucked into that too.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Peter Mendelsund, sought-after book cover designer, talk a little about what goes into the process of design. 

If you think you haven't heard of him or seen his work, think again:

Stieg Larsson Trilogy

Here is some of his Kafka art:

Kafka Covers by Mendelsund.

Looking familiar yet?

An avid reader himself, Peter describes the process of interpreting a book into a single look as sometimes exhausting, but a great chance to connect words and art to make sometimes simple, but memorable, covers. For The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he drafted nearly fifty versions before he settled on the subtle swirls we now know so well.

As he's often asked to do covers for many works by a single author, he plays with thematic elements that become a thread through them all: note his use of the eye in his Kafka series. (Some of his art has become so iconic, it's even made it onto phone cases and tote bags, which Peter finds both "strange and awesome.")

With other covers, he will focus on the particular feel of a book rather than a straight forward representation of 'what it's about'. In his design of Lolita, he reminds us that the story is still often child-like, and as a reader, he could never quite shake the idea that lovely Lo is really just a little girl despite the very adult situations. The pink paper cut out, phonetic spelling, and girl-ish handwriting covers allude to that.

Pink paper cut out cover of Lolita   Spelling out Lolita and Handwriting

 A lot of thought goes into designing the jackets of these books. Many of the titles have been published before, so a designer's job is often attempting to re-interpret a story or character and appeal to a broad audience. If you want to check out more of Peter's eye-catching designs, take a peek at his latest art book, the aptly titled Cover. And as if it wasn't quite ambitious enough, he's also released another book, What We See When We Read, this year. You can also read a review from the National Post about it that explores how we visualize and create meaning when we read.

Cover by Peter Mendelsund  What We See When We Read

If you're feeling inspired by all of this book jacket eye candy and are suddenly re-thinking your current career path, Peter also offers an online design course.

Of course, there are tons of other memorable, distinctive and gorgeous book covers from all over. Maybe you've heard of a little something called Jurassic Park?

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

This easily recognizable cover art is courtesy of designer Chipp Kidd. He's also written a book for would-be designers called Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design

GO: a Kidd' s Guide to Graphic Design 

His design work is hugely diverse, with covers ranging from the deceptively simple...

The Antagonist  A Wolf At the Table
(The Antagonist by Canadian author Lynn Coady and A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs)

...to dazzling, colourful images that catch you off guard:

1Q84  South of the Border West of the Sun
Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 and South of the Border, West of the Sun (in eBook)


  Cool It
Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg

As Chip Kidd says, 

“Book designers responsibility is three fold. To the reader, to the publisher and most of all to the author. I want you [the reader] to look at the author’s book and say,

‘Wow, I need to read that.’” 

Isn't it Romantic? An Online Forum for Romance Readers

November 24, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

To celebrate the popularity of Toronto Public Library's romance fiction collection, Book Buzz has introduced a new online discussion section specifically dedicated to romance. Here you can meet with other readers, discuss books, and receive recommendations. It's a new way to share your reading experiences.

Romance Discussion Forum

Romance Fiction:
Get in the mood to join the discussion with these seasonal romance novels.

Angels at the table Baby it's cold outside Candlelight christmas Comfort and joy Dark celebration

Angels at the Table by Debbie Macomber
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An inexperienced angel sees two lonely people at Times Square on New Year's Eve and impulsively engineers an encounter. Chef Lucie and food critic Aron are perfect for each other but Will has gotten the timing wrong and senior angels Shirley, Goodness and Mercy must step in to ensure a happy ending.

Baby, It's Cold Outside
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Five of today's hottest romance writers have each provided a story for this festive collection.

Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs
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A single father who yearns for love meets an independent single woman determined to stay that way. A heartwarming story of Christmas magic.

Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah
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Recently divorced librarian (!) Joy Candellaro impulsively leaves her orderly life behind and takes a Christmas vacation that will change her life.

Dark Celebration: a Carpathian Reunion by Christine Feehan
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The Carpathian community comes together for a Christmas celebration and to welcome the birth of a new member unaware that their enemies are plotting against them. The 17th book in the paranormal suspense series, Dark Series.

The heart of christmas Heroes are my weakness Hot mail Island christmas What a lady needs for christmas

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
eBook
When she sees how happy her married friends are, Eve Harmon despairs that she is still single. Suddenly a handsome mysterious stranger appears at the B and B she runs. Could this be the man of her dreams? Received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times.

Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
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This modern gothic romance novel was named one of the top ten romance books of 2014 by Booklist. It's the "tartly humorous and very sexy" tale of a woman on a frozen island with the man who once betrayed her.

Hot Mail by Janice Maynard
Jane's New Year's resolution is to stop lusting after her friend Ethan and actually do something about it. She decides that the best way to get his attention is by sending a series of anonymous Valentine's Day cards--one every week.

An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer
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Free-spirit Felicia has finally found love with bumbling Archie and has agreed to a lavish fairy-tale wedding to please her mother while her mother secretly schemes to set her daughter up with a more "suitable" mate.

What a Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes
eBook
A marriage of convenience blossoms into something more. Beautifully written and full of social commentary, Library Journal named this one of the best romance books of 2014.

Welcome to The Buzz...About Books -- the official blog of Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online book club.