Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters

Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters
by Jean Pendziwol

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing
Elvis, Joan M. Baril, customer poet Rob Lem

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Santa Baby, Bring Me a Good Book…


Nothing better for a gift. Here are a few suggestions:
For the Mystery buff:  
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Alder-Olsen. A Department Q novel. Department Q deals with cold cases and was set up to get rid of acerbic detective Carl Morck. Carl is a great character, a slacker and a walking annoyance but he has a mysterious side kick, a Syrian refugee who is smart and cheerful.

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith The black humour goes on. Arkady Renko the Moscow prosecuter, has survived Stalinism and is now, in the age of Mafia domination under Putin, faced with the murder of a famous woman journalist, a murder everyone blames on politicians and mob billionaires.  A great story in two great settings, Moscow and Kaliningrad, the Soviet left over city with the highest crime rate in Europe.

For the History Buff:
Year Zero: A History of 1945 by Ian Buruma. At the end of World War II, great cities lay in ruins. Old regimes fell and new ones rose. 1945 brought three things; exaltation, revenge and hunger and Buruma devotes a chapter to each. He then turns to the attempts to rebuild including the callous treatment of many of the victims.

Watergate by Thomas Mallon This is a novel but all the old characters are there: Pat and Richard Nixon, Martha Mitchel, Gordon Liddy, secretary Rose Wood. We know the ending but the slow slide into presidential disgrace took with it many fascinating people who have their own stories. I could not put this book down.

Emma Donoghue


For the Short Story Buffs:
Saints and Sinners by Edna O’Brien. A great book of short stories. The first story, a long ramble about the life of a man the protagonist met casually, is a sort of Any Human Heart or Carol Shields look at a life, from childhood to death.

 Astray by Emma Donoghue– Short fiction. The first story, told in the voice of Jumbo the Elephant’s trainer is a perfect monologue with every sentence telling and confident.  The second about the widow who leaves town and later the slave and wife who run away are both strong stories. These stories are all historicals and that charmed me.  Talented writer.

For the Literary Reader
My New American Life by Francine Prose. An Albanian immigrant works for an American family. She tells lies about Albania but also many people lie to her so she has no idea what is happening. She and the other Albanian immigrants have no moral compass but they have soft hearts. A masterpiece of plot and dialogue. I was impressed by Prose’s knowledge of Communism, Albania and immigrant perception.

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis  Baruch Kotler, an Israeli politician, on the run in the Ukraine from a personal scandal, meets the man who betrayed him to the KGB. Kotler is a towering character who lives by his own rules which leads to a satisfying ending.


For the graphic novel fan
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast Poignant memoir about Chast’s elderly parents in their last years. Part graphic novel but also text.

Hark A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. A graphic novel which swings through  Canadian history and literature including Nancy Drew. Witty takes on old and new including an update on the origin of hipsters.

Two Generals by Scott Chandler. Two young Canadian men join up at the start of World War II. The book briefly shows us their childhood and moves quickly into their training in Britain, then the Normandy invasion and the subsequent battle for Caens.  The art is beautifully crafted, the dialogue crisp and informative, the pacing superb. This book is one of the best of the year.

For Your Favourite Finn:
1.     A Century of Sisu: A Hundred Years of Finnish Tradition, Culture and Food in the Thunder Bay Area by Kathy Toivanen and Kim Manduca. Lots of info, photos and neat maps




Two Generals, a graphic novel by Scott Chandler








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