Tag Archives: books

October Reads: ‘The Spawning Grounds’ by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

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On one side of the river is a ranch once owned by Eugene Robertson, who came in the gold rush around 1860, and stayed on as a homesteader. On the other side is a Shuswap community that has its own tangled history with the river–and the whites. At the heart of the novel are Hannah and Brandon Robertson, teenagers who have been raised by their grandfather after they lost their mother. As the novel opens, the river is dying, its flow reduced to a trickle, and Hannah is carrying salmon past the choke point to the spawning grounds while her childhood best friend, Alex, leads a Native protest against the development further threatening the river. When drowning nearly claims the lives of both Hannah’s grandfather and her little brother, their world is thrown into chaos. Hannah, Alex, and most especially Brandon come to doubt their own reality as they are pulled deep into Brandon’s numinous visions, which summon the myths of Shuswap culture and tragic family stories of the past.
The novel hovers beautifully in the fluid boundary between past and present, between the ordinary world and the world of the spirit, all disordered by the human and environmental crises that have knit the white and Native worlds together in love, and hate, and tragedy for 150 years. Can Hannah and her brother, and Alex, find a way forward that will neither destroy the river nor themselves?

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/532573/spawning-grounds#9780345810816

October Reads: ‘Three Years with the Rat’ by Jay Hosking

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After several years of drifting between school and go-nowhere jobs, a young man is drawn back into the big city of his youth. The magnet is his beloved older sister, Grace: always smart and charismatic even when she was rebelling, and always his hero. Now she is a promising graduate student in psychophysics and the centre of a group of friends who take “Little Brother” into their fold, where he finds camaraderie, romance, and even a decent job.

But it soon becomes clear that things are not well with Grace. Always acerbic, she now veers into sudden rages that are increasingly directed at her adoring boyfriend, John, who is also her fellow researcher. When Grace disappears, and John shortly thereafter, the narrator makes an astonishing discovery in their apartment: a box big enough to crawl inside, a lab rat, and a note that says This is the only way back for us. Soon he embarks on a mission to discover the truth, a pursuit that forces him to question time and space itself, and ultimately toward a perilous confrontation at the very limits of imagination.

This kinetic novel catapults the classic noir plot of a woman gone missing into the 21st century city, where so-called reality crashes into speculative science in a novel reminiscent of Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Three Years with the Rat is simultaneously a mind-twisting mystery that plays with the very nature of time and the story of a young man who must face the dangerously destructive forces we all carry within ourselves.

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/417541/three-years-rat#9780670069378

October Reads: ‘Here I Am’ by Jonathan Safran Foer

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God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Abraham replied obediently, “Here I am.”

This is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. Over the course of three weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., three sons watch their parents’ marriage falter and their family home fall apart. Meanwhile, a large catastrophe is engulfing another part of the world: a massive earthquake devastates the Middle East, sparking a pan-Arab invasion of Israel. With global upheaval in the background and domestic collapse in the foreground, Jonathan Safran Foer asks us: What is the true meaning of home? Can one man ever reconcile the conflicting duties of his many roles– husband, father, son? And how much of life can a person ultimately bear?

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/546349/here-i-am#9780735232938

October Reads: ‘Nutshell’ by Ian McEwan

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New from the bestselling author of Atonement and The Children Act

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home—a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse—but John’s not there. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/549109/nutshell-by-ian-mcewan/9780385542074/

October Reads: ‘Mischling’ by Affinity Konar

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Pearl is in charge of: the sad, the good, the past. Stasha must care for: the funny, the future, the bad.
It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.
As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.
That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks–a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin–travel through Poland’s devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.
A superbly crafted story, told in a voice as exquisite as it is boundlessly original, Mischling defies every expectation, traversing one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/534457/mischling#9780345816412

 

October Reads: ‘The Couple Next Door’ by Shari Lapena

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Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/541785/couple-next-door#9780385686945

Summer Reads with Random House: ‘Beware That Girl’ By Teresa Toten

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‘Beware That Girl’ By Teresa Toten

The Haves. The Have Nots. Kate O’Brien appears to be a Have Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of–some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. And she’s also a masterful liar.

As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ranks and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls–specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration as head of fundraising, he immediately charms his way into the faculty and students’ lives–especially Olivia’s, although she doesn’t share what’s going on. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal and can’t afford to ignore. Mark has his own plan for a bright future and never doubts that he can pull it off. How close can Kate and Olivia get with Mark without having to share their dark pasts?

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/241368/beware-girl#9780385678377

Summer Reads with Random House: ‘The Hatching’ By Ezekiel Boone

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‘The Hatching’ By Ezekiel Boone

A local guide is leading wealthy tourists through a forest in Peru when a strange, black, skittering mass engulfs him and most of the party. FBI Agent Mike Rich is on a routine stakeout in Minneapolis when he’s suddenly called by the director himself to investigate a mysterious plane crash. A scientist studying earthquakes in India registers an unprecedented pattern in local seismic readings. The US president, her defence and national security advisers and her chief of staff are dumped into crisis mode when China “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb on a desolate region of its own country. As such unsettling occurrences mount, the president’s old friend (and her chief of staff’s ex-wife), spider expert Melanie Guyer, receives a box at her lab at American University that contains an ancient egg unearthed at a South American dig.

So begins The Hatching, the hair-raising saga of a single week in which an ancient, frighteningly predatory species of spider re-emerges in force. When the unusual egg in Melanie Guyer’s lab begins to vibrate and crack, she finds herself at the epicentre of this apocalyptic natural disaster. Working closely with her ex-husband and his very powerful boss, she has to find some way to stem the brutal tide of man-eating arachnids.

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/535295/hatching#9780345816504

Summer Reads with Random House: ‘I Let You Go’ By Clare Mackintosh

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‘I Let You Go’ By Clare Mackintosh

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I’d written it . . . a stellar achievement.”

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/532414/i-let-you-go#9781101987513

Summer Reads with Random House: ‘In the Unlikely Event’ By Judy Blume

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‘In the Unlikely Event’ By Judy Blume

In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.

Early reviewers have already weighed in: “Like many family stories, this one is not without its life-changing secrets and surprises. There is no surprise that the book is smoothly written, and its story compelling. The setting—the early 1950s—is especially well realized through period references and incidents.” —Booklist (starred review) and “In Blume’s latest adult novel . . . young and old alike must learn to come to terms with technological disaster and social change. Her novel is characteristically accessible, frequently charming and always deeply human.” —Publishers Weekly

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/248821/unlikely-event#9780385685085