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    Book Club in a Bag

    Off the Shelf

    by Cher K - 0 Comment(s)

     

    419

    Will Ferguson


    If you have an email account, chances are you have received at least one scamming note. You are smart and you erase them. Laura’s father was not; he responded. He fell into the abyss of “419”, Nigerian slang for perpetrating a scam. In his novel, 419, Will Ferguson paints the fear and anger of lives dispossessed — those of both the scammed and the scammers.

    With dexterous intricacy Ferguson inserts us into the stories of Laura, habitué of Northill Plaza in Calgary; Nnamdi, boy and man from a once-remote part of Nigeria; Amina, a destitute pregnant woman walking away from her identity; and, Winston, skilled self-taught Lagos internet scammer. That these stories converge without obvious contrivance is the Ferguson’s triumph.

    After their father’s death, Laura’s family is incensed that he was a victim of an internet scammer, to the extent of losing all his financial assets. Laura’s mother leaves the mortgaged family home, moving into the basement of her son’s large home in Springbank. Slowly the police convince the family that internet scammers are absolutely anonymous. There is no way they can recoup money sent via wire transfers to someone with innumerable aliases.

    Laura, however, is an editor. She believes the pen is more powerful than the sword. Laura separates out a single writer of notes from the chaff of purported government officials and other veracity-inducing supporting actors. An author’s errors and quirks leave an indelible signature. Laura seeks revenge.

    Subtext to this well-woven tale is the question of whose morality is superior. The internet scammers self-justify their illegal trade as an extracting of revenge on white colonialists, even though the criminals pursue victims of any race with enthusiastic and perverse fairness. Plus, victims are greedy or they wouldn’t respond, right? Nnamdi is a genuinely generous person who undertakes illegal tasks to survive and be part of his community. Amina has nothing; isn’t she entitled to something in this world? Laura would rather be dead than accept her father’s undeserved fate! Fate: is it cast in stone?

     

    by Judith Umbach

    Best Historical Fiction

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    If you're a historical fiction buff, this post is for you! There are so many recent releases that are generating a lot of interest, so how do you choose? I've compiled some lists to help you narrow it down:

    Or if you like to pick your books based on a beautiful or compelling cover, have a look at this Pinterest page.

    I haven't read any recent historical fiction, but there are a few fantastic novels I've read in the past that have always stayed with me. When I find a book like that, it creates that blissful experience: reading becomes like time travel, immersing me in the time and place and lives of the characters.

    I'll leave you with three of my all-time favourites:

    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

    A graphic novel memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, this classic of the genre presents a window into a time of social and political upheaval. The bold black and white visual style is matched by the author's open portrayal of her childhood in that time and place. The story continues in Persepolis 2. If you've never picked up a graphic novel, you may surprise yourself by enjoying this as much as any other historical novel.

    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

    This novel is both a window into India's past and a story of enduring friendship forged in difficult circumstances. The richness and complexity of the story is a match for that of its setting. From the catalogue summary:

    A Fine Balance , Rohinton Mistry's stunning internationally acclaimed bestseller, is set in mid-1970s India. It tells the story of four unlikely people whose lives come together during a time of political turmoil soon after the government declares a "State of Internal Emergency." Through days of bleakness and hope, their circumstances - and their fates - become inextricably linked in ways no one could have foreseen. Mistry's prose is alive with enduring images and a cast of unforgettable characters. Written with compassion, humour, and insight, A Fine Balance is a vivid, richly textured, and powerful novel written by one of the most gifted writers of our time.

    The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak


    Set in Nazi Germany of 1939, this story is narrated by Death. Leisel is drawn to the mysterious promise of books and reading, and sometimes can't help taking books. From the catalogue summary:

    The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul. It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

    What is your favourite historical novel? Leave a comment to share your suggestion!

    Celebrating Readers at Calgary Public Library

    by Tess - 0 Comment(s)

    We are going to post pictures of CPL staff and patrons discussing one of their favorite books. This is exciting for us, because we, both staff and users of CPL, love books and we love to talk about and share books.

    So we hope that you will enjoy these fun new blogs and perhaps get a few ideas on what to read next!


    Brent – The Hours by Michael Cunningham

    How did you find your book? I saw the movie when I was 14, and being so naive, I didn’t grasp any of the concepts or underlying themes. Twelve years later, I came across the book in the library stacks and devoured it overnight. I’ve again watched the movie since, and it made much more sense!

    How many stars does it get out of 5? A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.

    What did you like about it? I like that the story takes place across three different generations of characters, all of which undergo situations that, one way or another, relate to the classic novel – Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Wolfe. Although some readers thought the book slightly depressing, I found it inspiring. It offers subtle and veiled advice on how to live one’s life.

    Which book does it remind you of? It reminds me of being forced to read Mrs. Dalloway in High School English, and detesting every moment. But, this book effortlessly brings new light to the classic and a new found appreciation.

    Who would like this book? Anyone who has read Virginia Wolfe, or has an interest in Historical Fiction. If you’ve seen the movie, try the book, or vice-versa!

     

    Roberta – Cake Balls: more than 60 Delectable and Whimsical Sweet Spheres of Goodness

    How did you find your book? It was recommended to me by a friend who is a master baker.

    How many stars does it get out of 5? 4 out of 5

    What did you like about it? I like the fact that there are so many detailed illustrations on how to make these little gems properly, along with tips on ingredients, presentation, and tempting additions. Everything in one stop. Didn’t have to look at a dozen blogs.

    Which book does it remind you of? Well, given that I own over 60 cookbooks, I’d say it reminds me of my other happy baking books.

    Who would like this book? Anyone who likes to bake, entertain, and experiment. As my mother always used to say, “They look lovely on the plate”. The small-size servings are great for guests not wanting to overindulge, and are better than Starbuck’s cake pops, in my opinion. They were a huge hit at my last Oscar party.

     

    Barb - The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

    How did you find your book? One of my friends recommended Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, which I enjoyed. I was looking for other books by him and found this book.

    How many stars does it get out of 5? 4.5

    What did you like about it? I loved that Fforde took the nursery rhymes and stories we’re all familiar with from childhood and flipped them into hard-boiled detective fiction.

    Which book does it remind you of? It is Mother Goose meets The Big Sleep.

    Who would like this book? People who enjoy film noir, good storytelling and have a sense of humour.

    Please stay tuned for more upcoming Celebrating Readers posts!