Toronto Public Library Homepage


Elizabeth is Missing: Alzheimer's Disease in Fiction

September 22, 2014 | Viveca | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Elizabeth is MissingIn recognition of World Alzheimer's Day on September 21, here are some notable novels featuring characters affected by Alzheimer's disease, a disease that has touched so many families here in Canada and around the world.  

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is a gripping mystery with not one, but two gone girls. Maud, a British pensioner, is convinced that her best friend, Elizabeth, is missing. The police, her children, and her caregiver won't listen to her. Even worse, Maud has chilling flashbacks about her sister, Sukey, who vanished 70 years earlier. But here’s the thing: Maud is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Her sleuthing becomes a race against time – she must find Elizabeth and solve the mystery of Sukey's disappearance before her memory slips away for good. Shifting between post-War Britain and the present, this story is told with grace and empathy as it depicts the fierce (and on occasion, fatal) connections that exist between friends, lovers and family. Despite the novel’s unflinching look at the cruelty of Alzheimer’s disease, Maud’s intelligence and dignity shine through in her search for the truth.  You will end up cheering for Maud – right up to the shocking conclusion. Also available in eBook

Other great reads featuring strong characters battling Alzheimer's disease:

Still Alive Hateship friendship courtship loveship marriage Turn of Mind The Memory Artists

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland, a Harvard professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, struggles to maintain her sense of self and her independence. The film based on this novel was screened at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and will be released in 2015. 

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

"The Bear Came Over the Mountain" is a short story from Munro's award-winning collection. Fiona is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and moves into a nursing home. Her husband, Grant, is devastated when Fiona no longer remembers him and begins a relationship with another resident. Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley, was based on this story and won a Genie for Best Picture. 

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Dr. Jennifer White, a former surgeon suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease, finds herself accused of murdering her best friend, Amanda. 

The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore

Noel Buren is a scientist with a neurological condition that gives him near-perfect recall. Along with his group of eccentric friends, he begins his search for a cure for his mother's Alzheimer's disease. This touching story won the Canadian Author's Association Prize for Best Fiction. 

 Related links:

Scotland Forever

September 18, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

A referendum will be held on September 18, 2014 to decide whether Scotland should be an independent country. I don't have any particular opinion about this but I wholeheartedly declare my support of Scottish writers.

These are some of my favourites:

Lin Anderson
Anderson's novels feature forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod working in Glasgow. Her personal life sometimes has an impact on her work as in Driftnet, when MacLeod suspects an injured teenage crime victim is the child she gave up for adoption years earlier.

Picture her dead Final cut Easy kill

Picture Her Dead

Final Cut

Easy Kill
Large Print

Christopher Brookmyre
Primarily known for crime fiction, some of his more recent books have wandered off into science fiction territory. His books are very funny and very violent--if you like that sort of thing. I do.

Attack of the unsinkable rubber ducks Bedlam Flesh wounds

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
• Large Print



Denise Mina
Denisa Mina burst on to the crime fiction scene in 1988 with Garnethill, the first book in an acclaimed trilogy. Following this she wrote three books about a journalist--Paddy Meehan. Her recent works have been about Alex Morrow, a police officer with family ties to organized crime.

Garnethill Field of blood Still midnight

Garnethill: a Novel of Crime

The Field of Blood
Large Print

Still Midnight
Large Print

Alan Warner
Warner's novels are set in a town referred to as The Port, probably based on Oban, Scotland. He won me over with The Sopranos, a wonderful book about choir girls running amok at a music competition.

Sopranos Stars in the bright sky

The Sopranos
Regular Print #1
Regular Print #2

The Stars in the Bright Sky

Irvine Welsh
Welsh writes in a phonetically transcribed Scottish dialect about the lives of the working class. His best known work is Trainspotting--once called "the best book ever written by a man or a woman". Welsh supports the independence movement.

Bedroom secrets of the master chefs Skagboys Trainspotting

The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs



2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist Announced

September 16, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

The longlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced on September 16:

All my puny sorrows American innovations Betrayers Ever after of ashwin rao

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan

The girl who was Saturday night Moving forward sideways like a crabl My october Paradise and elsewhere

The Girl who was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab by Shani Mootoo

My October by Claire Holden Rothman

Paradise and Elsewhere: Stories by Kathy Page

Tell frances itani Us conductors Waiting for the man Watch how we walk

Tell by Frances Itani

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels

Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu

Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove

Novels and short story collections are eligible for this prize. This year the prize money awarded has been increased. The winner will receive $100,000 and the 4 finalists each will take home $10,000. This doubles the amount of money given previously and makes it the most lucrative literary prize in Canada.

The winner will be announced on November 10, 2014.

Graham Joyce, 1954-2014

September 15, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Author Graham Joyce died on September 9 after a battle with lymphoma. He was 59. A fantasy writer primarily, his works often contained elements of magic realism leading to comparisons with authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

He was born into a family of coal miners just outside Coventry, England. In his working class community people who used two-syllable words were considered suspicious, he said. He received a B.Ed in 1977 from Bishop Lonsdale College, an MA from the University of Leicester in 1980. He taught creative writing at Nottingham Trent University between 1996 and his death.

Twoc The exchange

Graham Joyce wrote fourteen novels and twenty-six stories. His writing received numerous awards including a World Fantasy Award, multiple British Fantasy Awards, and an O. Henry Prize. His young adult books TWOC and The Exchange were both finalists for Carnegie Medals.

Some of Graham Joyce's books:

Ghost in the electric blue suit Limits of enchantment The silent land Some kind of fairy tale

Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit (alternate title: The Year of the Ladybird)

The Limits of Enchantment

The Silent Land

Some Kind of Fairy Tale
• eAudiobook

Beware of Beavers: 9 Novels about Animal Attacks

September 12, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

American BeaverJeremy McNaughton was snorkling in Nova Scotia recently when he was attacked by a beaver. The beaver bit him badly but McNaughton is on the mend after receiving medical treatment.

To paraphrase Troy McClure from The Simpsons: Don't kid yourself. If a beaver ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!

Although none of these novels features a beaver, each is about an animal attack:

The bear Cujo The flock Jaws Jurassic park


The Bear by Claire Cameron
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
A young girl must fend for herself and protect her little brother after a black bear attacks her parents. The Bear is one of the discussion books on Book Buzz in October.
Claire Cameron will be appearing at Runnymede Branch as part of the Eh List Authors Series.

Cujo by Stephen King
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
A beloved family dog becomes a savage killer after contracting rabies.

The Flock by James Robert Smith
The planned redevelopment of a Florida swamp angers its residents--huge, carnivorous, prehistoric birds.

Jaws by Peter Benchley
A Long Island resort town is terrorised by a great white shark. The movie is pretty good too.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Large Print
Dinosaurs cloned from fossilized DNA are the feature attraction at a theme park. Spoiler alert! This does not go well.

Natural selection Rats james herbert Sparrow rock The swarm

Natural Selection by Dave Freeman
A species similar to manta rays has been living peacefully off the coast of California but when the food supply dwindles, a group of researchers in the area starts to look mighty tasty. Mmmm...researchers.

The Rats by James Herbert
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Giant killer rats terrorize London.

Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon
Mutated insects make life difficult for high school students who survived a nuclear war.

The Swarm by Frank Schätzing
Humanity is threatened when all marine life, under the influence of a supernatural force, begins a campaign of revenge to avenge ecological abuses.

Beaver photo credit: By Steve from washington, dc, usa (American Beaver) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


2014 Man Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

September 9, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Man Booker Prize Shortlist was announced on September 9. David Mitchell whose new book The Bone Clocks was considered a front-runner, is surprisingly not on the list of finalists. Two Americans--Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler--are both in contention. It is the first year that the prize has been open to writers from the United States.

How to be both J by howard jacobson Lives of others

How to be Both by Ali Smith

J by Howard Jacobson

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

Narrow road to the deep north To rise again at a decent hour We are all completely beside ourselves

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

The winner will be announced on October 14.

Toronto Public Library's Award Winners page lists the Man Booker Prize shortlist and winners dating back to 2007.

Related post:

The Hello Kitty Crisis

September 2, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Last week Hello Kitty brand owner Sanrio announced that "Hello Kitty is a cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold", and the world shook. Many fans had assumed that her cat ears and whiskers (and her name) were an indication of feline heritage but now our beliefs have been shattered and we are left to question everything in the entire world. Thanks a lot, Sanrio!

If you want something to read to make you feel better, try this:

Hello kitty must dieHello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi
Twenty-eight year old lawyer Fiona Yu doesn't want to kill the cartoon character but instead the stereotype of polite, submissive, childlike Asian women. She is torn between traditional values of her parents and her desire to be lead a more exciting life. While her father sets her up on blind dates with suitable men, she begins a relationship with a serial killer.


Each of these books features interaction between humans and sentient animals:


Beautiful friendship Catalyst Dawn of the planet of the apes Gun with occasional music King rat

A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber
When Stephanie's parents move to a new planet, she doesn't expect to form a powerful relationship with a highly intelligent species of treecat.

Catalyst: a Tale of the Barque Cats by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Very special cats work alongside humans on space craft. When a virus threatens all the animals in space, humans, cats and a cat-like alien join forces to save the universe.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the Official Movie Novelization by Alexander Irvine
A peaceful colony of apes has been established under the leadership of Cesar but a small group of humans arrives and threatens everything.

Gun with Occasional Music by Jonathan Letham
Private detective Conrad Metcalf is trying to solve a crime in a future Oakland that includes evolved animals--a kangaroo hitman for example. Imagine if Raymond Chandler had written science fiction. A wonderful, strange book.

King Rat by China Miéville
Wrongfully accused of his father's murder, Saul is rescued by a rat who claims to be both the deposed leader of an army of rodents and Saul's biological father.

Five Books about Weekends

August 29, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

These books are about weekend getaways. Some weekends are pleasant; others are not.

Long weekend

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten strangers are lured to an island where they discover that they are the target of a crazed killer.

The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison
Two couples spend a tense weekend in a remote cottage where old rivalries and conflicts resurface.

The Long Weekend by Veronica Henry
A seaside hotel in Cornwall is the long weekend destination for several families in this engaging summer read.

Osterman weekend The weekend

The Osterman Weekend by Robert Ludlum
A television network manager is planning a weekend four couples and is horrified when a CIA agent approaches him with information that one of the guests is a terrorist.

The Weekend by Bernard Schlink
Old friends gather at a secluded estate but it's no ordinary weekend. They've met to celebrate the pardon of one of their number--who had been convicted of murder and terrorism.

Enjoy your long weekend!

Subways, Subways, Subways: Fiction

August 25, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Public transit is always in the news so I decided to write about Toronto subways in fiction. Using Google Books, I searched for novels that mentioned specific subway stations. It was ridiculously successful. Dear little Bessarion Station has not made it into a novel yet but practically every other station has. A blog post listing all the books that mention subway stations would be unwieldy to say the least.

While I work on the formatting for that monster post, check out these books. Each involves a subway system in some part of the world.

Acceleration Girls fall down Third rail Baptism


Acceleration by Graham McNee
Duncan has a summer job cataloguing lost items at the TTC Lost and Found office located at the Bay station. One of the items he finds is a diary apparently written by a serial killer stalking people in the subway system. An award-winning YA novel.

Girls Fall Down by Maggie Helwig
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
After a girl faints on the subway and her friends develop strange rashes, the city of Toronto goes on alert. Is this evidence of a terrorist attack or something else? Photographer Alex is determined to document the city on film and travels around the city on foot and by transit.


The Third Rail by Michael Harvey
A sniper is targeting passengers on the Chicago Transit Authority and ex-cop turned private detective Michael Kelly is asked to assist with the investigation.


Baptism by Max Kinnings
Religious fanatics hijack a London subway with plans to kill everyone on board by flooding the tunnel. It's up to blind hostage negotiator Ed Mallory to avert this tragic outcome.

Man in the brown suit Neverwhere Metro 2034 Stalin's ghost

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
Large Print
Anne Beddington becomes suspicious after witnessing the death of a man at Hyde Corner Station and follows a cryptic note that has fallen out of the dead man's pocket.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
An act of kindness destroys Richard Mayhew's life and forces him into London Below, a hidden world of abandoned subway stations, sewers and bizarre creatures.


Metro 2034 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
A nuclear war has forced the surviving population to live underground where subway stations have become miniature countries. When supplies unexpectedly stop, a small group of Sevastopolskya Station citizens is sent through the Metro to investigate.

Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Arkady Renko investigates when passengers report seeing the ghost of Joseph Stalin in the Chistye Prudy Metro Station.

New York City

Chasing windmills Gone tomorrow Lowboy Please look after mom All tomorrow's parties

Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde
A chance meeting on a subway car inspires strangers Sebastian and Maria to change their lives.

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Jack Reacher suspects that one of the passengers on his subway car is a suicide bomber.

Lowboy by John Wray
A schizophrenic teenager on a mission to save the world disappears into the New York subway.


Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
Large Print
A family is distraught when its matriarch goes missing at the Seoul Station subway.


All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson
A clairvoyant cyberpunk living in a cardboard box in a Tokyo subway station,  mobilizes his friends to prevent a world disaster. Although part of Gibson's Bridge Trilogy, this book can be read on its own.

Toronto Book Awards Shortlist Announced

August 22, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Toronto Book Awards were created in 1974 to celebrate the diversity of writing in the city. Any type of writing--fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama--are eligible for the prize as are books written for adult, young adult and juvenile audiences. This year the nominees include both fiction and non-fiction.

The 2014 shortlist was announced on Friday, August 22.

The hungry ghosts Kicking the sky The massey murder The stop how the fight for good food Wondrous woo

The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai

Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa

The Massey Murder: a Maid, her Master and the Murder that Shocked a Nation by Charlotte Gray

The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis

The Wondrous Woo by Carrianne Leung

The winner will be announced on October 16.

Meet the nominees at Yorkville Branch on October 8, 7-8:30 PM.

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

Your comments, posts, messages and creative content are welcome, provided they encourage a respectful dialogue and comply with the Library's mission, values and policies.
Terms of Use