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    Book Club in a Bag

    On my reading list: 2012

    by Sonya - 1 Comment(s)

    If you're like me, you'll have a big list of books from 2012 that you'd like to read, but haven't gotten around to. Maybe you've been reading reviews, or you were waiting to see what Santa brought you... Well, now is the perfect time to catch up on the best 2012 books that you haven't yet read. Here's a sampling of what's on MY list:

    The Red House by Mark Haddon

    I've enjoyed everything I've read from this author, so this one makes my list. Here are a few lines from the Summary (Hint: look for the Summary tab in the detailed view in our Catalogue--most fiction titles come with a Summary and Reviews!) to get you interested:

    "A dazzlingly inventive novel about modern family, from the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Told through the alternating viewpoints of each character, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires, all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt."

    Y by Marjorie Celona

    Canadian author. Debut novel. These words almost always pique my interest. And the clincher? Read on:

    "In her stunning debut, the sometimes sad, sometimes comic picaresque tale of a foundling raised in foster care on Vancouver Island, Marjorie Celona has greated a world so rich and full that every line seems to confirm something that has already happened. Her prose has an inevitable, ineluctable quality, cohesion twinned with the unexpected and amazing." Sara O'Leary for the Globe & Mail

    The Magic of Saida by M. G. Vassanji

    This Canadian author is on my "don't miss" list, and has been for a while. I'm just waiting for my hold to arrive!

    "The Magic of Saida tells the haunting story of Kamal, a successful Canadian doctor who, in middle age and after decades in North America, decides to return to his homeland of East Africa to find his childhood sweetheart, Saida. Kamal's journey is motivated by a combination of guilt, hope, and the desire to unravel the mysteries of his childhood--mysteries compounded by the fact that Kamal is the son of an absent Indian father from a well-to-do family and a Swahili African mother of slave ancestry... This complex, revelatory, sweeping and shocking book, is a towering testament to the magical literary powers of M.G. Vassanji."

    Everybody has Everything by Katrina Onstad

    This Canadian author's name is familiar although I haven't read her work before:

    "Combining a pitch-perfect, whip-smart dissection of contemporary urban life with a fresh and perceptive examination of our individual and collective ambivalence towards parenthood, [this novel] balances tragedy and comedy with verve and flair, and is destined to be one of Canada's most talked-about novels of 2012. After a car crash leaves their friend Marcus dead and his wife Sarah in a coma, Ana and James are shocked to discover that they have become the legal guardians of a 2½-year-old, Finn. Finn's crash-landing in their lives throws into high relief deeply rooted, and sometimes long-hidden, truths about themselves, both individually and as a couple."

    Are you my Mother by Alison Bechdel

    Another of my favourites, this time a graphic novelist:

    "A brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be. Fun Home was a pop culture & literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale...this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood...& who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was 7. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers about the mother-daughter gulf."

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    If you have time to wait for a thriller, join the hold list! Voted best Mystery/Thriller of the year in the GoodReads Choice Awards 2012:

    "Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work 'draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.' Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn."

    What's on YOUR list? Leave us a few titles in the comments.

    Seasonal Staff Picks

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    If you're in the mood for a seasonal novel, try one that comes with the "read and enjoyed" stamp of approval from our staff! Here are the ones we've enjoyed the most. Season's Greetings!

    I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

    This is the fourth installment in Bradley’s excellent mystery series featuring young sleuth and chemist Flavia de Luce. You’ll find Flavia at Buckshaw, where her family home has been taken over, at Christmastime, by an eccentric film crew teeming with dark secrets and hidden relationships. When someone turns up murdered while the entire crew (and most of the inhabitants of Bishop’s Lacey) are snowed in, Flavia sees that it’s obviously up to her to set the police on the right track. Of course, some may see her actions as tampering with evidence and hindering an investigation, but she’s not too easy to shut out of the proceedings. And entirely aside from the murder investigation, there is the burning mystery of the existence of Father Christmas to be solved, once and for all, through a process of scientific enquiry-slash-chemical experimentation. Don’t miss this latest in Flavia’s series; it’s as good as the first three in the series, or perhaps better, and a Christmas read like no other. And if you like Audiobooks, the CD with Jayne Entwistle reading is excellent--although an accomplished actress and reader, her voice is a perfect fit for 11 year old Flavia. This one's also available on Overdrive as both a WMA audio e-book (same reader) and an Adobe EPub ebook.

    The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale by Charles Todd

    Lady Elspeth Douglas is caught in the chaos when World War I begins and, as a woman with a mind of her own, becomes a battlefield nurse. This is a tale of danger, loss and love as the war that was supposed to be over by Christmas looks to be never-ending. I have loved all the books written by this mother and son team, and this is another winner.

    This title is also on order in large print.

    Icelander: an Emily Bean mystery by Dustin Long

    Nothing says Christmas like a manic, Chinese-box style mystery that takes place in an Iceland that isn’t really Iceland. Put on your long-johns and mitts and dive into the intricate layers of “a Nabokovian goof on Agatha Christie”. Winter is a ridiculous time that can make us all, necessarily, a bit crazy. This book is a whole lot of crazy. You’ll feel better.

    Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

    When Luther and Nora Krank’s daughter decides not to go home for Christmas, they decide to skip all the commercialism of Christmas and go on a cruise leaving Christmas Day. This does not sit well with the neighbours especially the one who sees himself as the Christmas police, ensuring that all the neighbours for example put a Frosty on their roofs to win a competition. On Christmas Eve day, the Kranks daughter tells her parents she in on her way home and bringing her new fiancé to share in all of their wonderful Christmas traditions. Chaos, confusion and laughter follow the phone call as the Kranks decide what to do.

    Find this on Overdrive both as an Adobe Epub ebook and as a WMA audiobook. It's also available in large print.

    Mistletoe, Murder and Mayhem

    by Jasna - 0 Comment(s)

    As all mystery fans know, the thing about murder mysteries is that they can happen year round! If you're ready to stay warm with a cozy Christmas mystery to keep you company, try one from our list. And if you find you enjoy it, check to see what else is available by the same author. Every one on our list is a beloved mystery author with a series based around the same place and characters.

    A Killer's Christmas in Wales

    Elizabeth J. Duncan

    As the townsfolk of the Welsh valley town of Llanelen settle in for the snowiest winter in twenty-five years, an American stranger arrives. Harry Saunders charms the ladies, one of them in particular: Evelyn Lloyd, the town's former postmistress, who was left comfortably off after the death of her husband. After Mrs. Lloyd invests a good deal of money with him, Harry goes missing, as does her money. His body is soon discovered outside the walls of Conwy Castle, and Mrs. Lloyd is implicated in the murder. Although Penny Brannigan and her business partner, Victoria Hopkirk, are busy overseeing the grand opening of their new spa, that doesn't stop Mrs. Lloyd from desperately seeking Penny's help to prove her innocence. It's quite possible that Harry made other enemies while in Llanelen and Penny's investigation unfolds while she juggles her work at the spa, her growing relationship with Detective Inspector Davies, and the Christmas window competition that she signed up to judge. With A Killer's Christmas in Wales , Elizabeth J. Duncan delivers a delightful holiday-themed mystery.

    Gingerbread Cookie Murder

    Joanne Fluke

    Nothing's better on Christmas Eve than waiting for the stroke of midnight with a cup of eggnog and a plate of warm gingerbread cookies. But in this merry collection of holiday mysteries, murder is making its own special delivery. . . Contains the short stories: "Gingerbread Cookie Murder" By Joanne Fluke: When Hannah Swensen finds her neighbor Ernie Kusak with his head bashed in and sprawled on the floor of his condo next to an upended box of Hannah's Gingerbread Cookies, she discovers a flurry of murder suspects that's as long as her holiday shopping list. "The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies" By Laura Levine: Jaine Austen has been enlisted to help with her parents' retirement community's play The Gingerbread Cookie That Saved Christmas. Playboy Dr. Preston McCay is playing the role of the gingerbread cookie when he "accidentally" falls to his death during the final act. Now Jaine must figure out if one of the doctor's jealous lovers was capable of murder.

    A Christmas Garland

    Anne Perry

    "An annual treat," declared The Wall Street Journal of Anne Perry's Victorian-era holiday mysteries. Now she continues this magnificent tradition with A Christmas Garland, a yuletide tale set in exotic India. This time the mistress of mystery tells the story of a terrible crime that sets the stage for another: accusing an innocent man of murder. The year is 1857, soon after the violent Siege of Cawnpore, with India in the midst of rebellion. In the British garrison, a guard is killed and an Indian prisoner escapes, which leads to yet more British deaths. Cries for revenge are overwhelming. Despite no witnesses and no evidence against him, a luckless British medical orderly named John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice simply because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when these baffling crimes were committed. Though chosen to defend Tallis, young Lieutenant Victor Narraway is not encouraged to try very hard. Narraway's superiors merely want a show trial. But inspired by a soldier's widow and her children, and by his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway searches for the truth.

    Busy Body

    M. C. Beaton

    Agatha Raisin has always been ambivalent about holiday cheer, but her cozy little village of Carsely has long prided itself on its Christmas festivities. But this year Mr. John Sunday, a selfimportant officer with the Health and Safety Board, has ruled that the traditional tree on top of the church is a public menace; that lampposts are unsafe for hanging illuminations; that May Dimwoody's homemade toys are dangerous for children Things have reached such a desperate pass that the Carsely Ladies Society joins forces with the ladies in the neighboring village of Odley Cruesis to try to put a stop to Mr. Sunday's meddling only to find that someone has literally put a stop to him with a kitchen knife. Agatha's detective agency is on the case, but when a man has made as many enemies as John Sunday, it's hard to know where to start.

    The Christmas Cookie Killer

    L. J. Washburn

    Phyllis Newsom stands a good chance in the Christmas cookie contest with her snowflake-shaped lime sugar cookies. But Mrs. Simmons? gingerdoodles might give her a run for her money'until she's found strangled in a pile of cookies. With many on Santa's naughty suspect list, this case is a cookie Phyllis means to crumble?

    Dashing Through the Snow

    Mary Higgins Clark

    From the beloved mother-daughter duo of Mary Higgins Clark, America's Queen of Suspense, and Carol Higgins Clark, author of the hugely popular Regan Reilly series, comes Dashing Through the Snow, a holiday treat loaded with as many surprises as Santa's sleigh. In picturesque Branscombe, New Hampshire, on the night before the village's first (and many hope annual) Festival of Joy, a group of employees at the local market learn they have won $180 million in the lottery. But the one worker, Duncan, who decided at the last moment not to play, is nowhere to be found. And while a second winning ticket was purchased in the next town, that winner hasn't come forward. Could Duncan have secretly bought it? Alvirah Meehan, amateur sleuth, and private investigator Regan Reilly have arrived in town for the festival. And as they dig beneath the surface, they find that life in little Branscombe is not as tranquil as it appears. But while Alvirah and Regan have to put aside their visions of an old-fashioned weekend in the country, this fast-paced holiday caper is sure to keep you dashing through the pages.

    Twelve Clues of Christmas

    Rhys Bowen

    It's December 1933, and single, penniless Lady Georgiana Rannoch is facing a bleak winter in Scotland at Castle Rannoch with her brother and dreadful sister-in-law. Seizing on an opportunity to escape, Georgie answers an ad to play hostess at a Christmas house party in a small English village, but the idyllic village soon turns sinister when the villagers begin dying in suspicious accidents. VERDICT Lady Georgiana's sixth outing (after Naughty in Nice) offers another witty and thoroughly enjoyable mystery with a dash of romance. Christmas recipes and period party game instructions are included.

    A Christmas Homecoming

    Anne Perry

    Among the brilliant array of Anne Perry's New York Times bestselling novels, her Christmas stories occupy perhaps the warmest spot in the hearts of readers. Each one is a masterpiece of suspense; each is alight with the true holiday spirit. In A Christmas Homecoming, a familiar face from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels--Charlotte's mother, Caroline--travels with her young husband, Joshua Fielding, and his theatrical troupe to Whitby, the Yorkshire fishing village where Dracula the vampire first touched English soil in the sensational novel named after him. Joshua has arranged to produce a stage adaptation of Dracula by the daughter of Whitby millionaire Charles Netheridge during the Christmas holiday, but after the disastrous first read-through of her amateurish script, only the fact that the company is depending on Netheridge's financial backing for their spring tour keeps them at work. As tempers flare and wind and snow swirl around Netheridge's lonely hilltop mansion, a black-cloaked stranger emerges from the storm--an eerily opportune arrival, for this enigmatic figure, one Anton Ballin, turns out to be a theatrical genius. At the same time, a brooding evil makes itself felt. Instead of the theatrical triumph that Netheridge desired for his daughter, there is murder--shocking and terrifying...

    Romancing the Holidays

    - 0 Comment(s)

    Part of the seasonal atmosphere is created by the music we hear everywhere around this time... and some of the classic seasonal tunes are, of course, love songs. Get in the mood for some holiday romance with our list of cozy and steamy Christmas romances!




    'Tis the Season To Be Sinful

    Adrienne Basso


    After their marriage of convenience turns into something more, sending her new husband running for cover, Juliet Wentworth, when Christmas time celebrations bring him back to their country manor, will stop at nothing to win over his heart...









    1225 Christmas Tree Lane

    Debbie Macomber


    The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise. But...someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she's determined to place in good homes. That's complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth's ex-husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads. As always in life-and in Cedar Cove-there are surprises, too. More than one family's going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending.





    A Wallflower Christmas

    Lisa Kleypas



    American cad Rafe Bowman goes bride shopping in London and must choose between love and money in Kleypas's coy Christmas romance. Rafe is wealthy in his own right, but his grossly wealthy father demands he marry the uninteresting Lady Natalie. Rafe, naturally, falls in love with someone else: Natalie's commoner cousin, Hannah. As his courtship of Natalie progresses, Rafe keeps returning to Hannah, who rejects his courtship because she thinks he is destined to marry her cousin. As Christmas draws closer, Rafe must choose between the woman he is falling in love with and his father's fortune. Throughout, veteran romancier Kleypas gracefully balances Regency mores, light humor and a dash of Christmas magic, and even if Rafe and Hannah hew too closely to genre archetypes, the book passes muster as a holiday bonbon.





    Hot for the Holidays

    Lora Leigh



    Featuring four novellas of sensual surprises and seasonal spirits, this collection includes a tale of the Breeds from Lora Leigh and a return to the world of the Mageverse from Angela Knight.







    An O'Brien Family Christmas

    Sherryl Woods




    Dating Matthew O'Brien-a playboy and a younger man-cost Laila Riley her career and her parents' respect. A high price, even for love-and when Laila decides it was just a fling, she breaks it off, despite Matthew's objections. But the O'Brien family has other ideas, and they conspire to get Laila to join them on a Dublin holiday. It's a great time to get away from it all, but Laila has reservations about the trip. Matthew's bound to be there, and she's far from immune. What if she can't resist temptation? Meanwhile, the O'Briens are in an uproar over matriarch Nell's unexpected romance with an old flame. Will she follow her heart despite the risks? And will Laila discover that some risks are actually once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.





    A Highlander Christmas

    Dawn Halliday


    An enchanting trio of paranormal Christmas stories. In Dawn Halliday's 'Winter Heat', a young woman lost in a blizzard casts a spell over the brooding Highland warrior who rescues her. In Cindy Miles' 'A Christmas Spirit', a museum curator's tour of a Scottish castle leads to an unexpected encounter with a dead-sexy spirit. And in Sophie Renwick's 'Yuletide Enchantment', passion blooms between an anxious bride-to-be and a dark, sensual stranger from another world.



    A Killer’s Christmas in Wales

    by Sonya - 1 Comment(s)

    I love a good mystery, and I love a good Christmas story. So when I find both wrapped up in one package, it’s a bonus, especially when the author is a Canadian.

    A Killer’s Christmas in Wales is the third book in a delightful series by Elizabeth Duncan. Her heroine, Penny Brannigan, is an expatriate Canadian and manicurist who has lived in Llanelen, Wales for twenty-five years. As a snowy Christmas approaches, an American stranger, Harry Saunders, arrives in town. He charms the ladies and swindles Evelyn Lloyd, a wealthy widow, out of a considerable sum of money. After he goes missing with her money, he is found murdered with her letter opener in his back. Evelyn, in desperation, asks Penny to help prove her innocence. Penny suffers more than the usual pre-Christmas rush as she is juggles her investigating with her budding relationship with Detective Inspector Davis, as well as opening a new spa with her partner and judging the Christmas displays in the shop windows.

    Elizabeth Duncan’s first novel, A Cold Light of Mourning, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel. She has also been shortlisted for the Agatha and Arthur Ellis Awards.

    This is a wonderful cozy mystery to curl up with on a cold winter’s night and forget about your own pre-Christmas rush for a while.

    Other cozy Christmas mysteries you might enjoy are:

    The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

    As the Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton

    Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie