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    Book Club in a Bag

    The Light and the Heavy… of Comics

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Think a comic doesn’t have the weight to deal with some heavy issues? Carry the idea that comics are just for boys and never deal with relationships? In fact it can be a light way to highlight and inform you without weighing you down and turning you off. They might even make you laugh… and cry and want to throw the book across the room. (We here at the library do NOT advocate this action, just saying).

    Try these on for size:

    Fat Free by Jude Miller & Illustrated by Mary Wilshire – “The Amazing All True Adventures of Supersize Woman! “ Memoir of one woman’s journey to self-esteem and fat acceptance and fitness. This book probes cultural questions and doesn’t hide truths or contradictions nor promote the fat phobia that is so pervasive in our culture. For instance, the story shows how we can often help others when we still need help ourselves and that often we can change our mind and redefine what recovery and health are as we go along.

    Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo (adapted Sean Michael Wilson by illustrated by Michiru Morikawa). The true memoirs of a gangster's daughter illustrates how significant rites of passage, such as getting a full body tattoo, can empower us to make life altering positive changes in our lives. As well as being a gripping fast-paced read this story shows human strength of spirit and honesty. Shoko says that “Getting tattooed, from the base of her neck to the tips of her toes, with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, was an act that empowered her to start making changes in her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at the bar she looked up at the full moon, a sight she never forgot. The moon became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book is an epitaph for herself and her family.” Tendo has also written a full length memoir continuing the story of her recovery on to include the birth of her daughter.

    Dragonslippers (This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like) by Rosalind Penfold. This graphic novel is actually pretty accurate in depicting how twisted emotional manipulation can be. No surprise since it’s actually Penfold’s memoir and based on her real life. If you’ve ever wondered or had a friend in this situation I would highly recommend this book but it DOES come with a trigger warning. On the plus side it also shows how Penfold managed to leave and recover.

    And on the lighter but no less relevant side:

    The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means/MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood. A fun book about 20-somethings, dating and following your own impressions of people rather than stereotypes, gossip and peer pressure.

    My Most Secret Desire by Julie Doucet. Julie is the queen hipster girl from Montreal who originally got me into comic books… way back in art school, perhaps actually because she writes about being in art school. Dark and funny, this lady pulls no punches in detailing her life as a punk growing up in Montreal through art school and various boyfriends. I briefly forgot that Doucet first converted me to comics years ago with HER tales of adventures and misadventures. It’s been an on again off again relationship. ;)

    Edmund and Rosemary Go To Hell by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Last but not least this comic is a fun, uplifting, simple fast read. It is satirical take on modern living, our search for meaning and a journey into appreciating the good things we have in life.

    For more great comic books check out my previous posts Great graphix: Not Your run of the Mill cominc Books and Words in Beige.

    Words In Beige

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Though there are many graphic novels and books in our collection that bear beige covers I thought I would highlight a few of our gems. Why beige? Isn’t beige boring, un-flavourful and well, um … boring? Well, for the sake of neutrality I will write, you can read; and draw your own conclusions.

    Unspent Love, or Things I wish I told You by Shannon Gerard. Poignant moments of longing, regret, reflection and joy in regards to love illustrated with sparse prose. The images don’t necessarily match the text which gives space for untold ambiguities and contradictions to exist, like they do in life. This technique lends a richness and depth to what in essence are very short clips of lives.

    Let That Bad Air Out - Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade: a Novel In Linocut by Stefan Berg. Would you explain Jazz with words or without?? Well Berg has chosen the silent but strong approach in his Porcupine Quill Publication. PQ press has also publish several beige covered graphic novels done in linocut including George A. Walker’s The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson and Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, which was reviewed in a previous post. They come equipped with short introductions which you can read to enhance your viewing experience, though I find it fun to see what I can glean from just reading the pictures first and then going back and “seeing if I’m right” by reading the introduction last…

    An Invisible Flower by Yoko Ono is a poetry book also covered in beige with very sparse words accompanied by rich, scrawly drawings done in charcoal and chalk pastel. Like a homemade art picture book for adults. Made 10 years before she met John Lennon and discovered and published by their son Sean as his first Chimera Press publication it eerily foreshadows Ono’s and Lennon’s relationship as well as references Yoko’s experiences in a refugee camp in WW2.

    Body of Text by David Ellignsen & Micheal V. Smith is another poetry book that blurs and marries the categories between images and text. And, okay, the cover isn’t beige but it is black and white, hence carrying some level of neutrality so I thought I could sneak it into this post. Smith is a writer, performance artist and occasional clown. In this book he is photographed by the award winning Ellignsen in various poses, distortions and yoga positions to make his body resemble letters. These are placed throughout the pages in numbers one to three making you “read” the characters created by his body as if it was a poem. The effect is mesmerizing and lyrical, enticing much flipping backwards and forwards – of pages that is ;).

    Hall of Best Knowledge: [all ideas, seminal & harmonious, complete & boundless] by Ray Fenwick. Flipping through this book, it can be hard to tell what it is about as Fenwick has geniously invented his own form of storytelling perhaps best quipped as 'typographical comics'. This consists of short one-page frames, each with a different topic humorously detailing what he thinks is best for you to know about each subject and slowly but surely building a narrative that comes together piece by piece. My favourite is the one about libraries which says, "... times have changed... When a guest views your library, the effect should be akin to the speechless awe inspired by the primitive hunter tearing off his animal skin to display glistening, sustenance-providing muscles. If the viewer is not left trembling before your impressive selection of books, then there is work to be done! ". Enjoy!

    Books about Obsession

    by Dieu - 0 Comment(s)
    Enduring Love book cover

    Ian McEwan sits high up on my long list of favourite contemporary authors. Enduring Love was the second book of his that I had read many years ago. When I was putting together this post I instantly thought of Enduring Love, one of the most disturbing and yet fascinating books on obsessive love, fate, and on how the extremes of a man’s delusions can lead to the destruction of lives.

    The novel starts off with probably one of the most memorable beginnings of any book I have read. It begins with a freak accident involving a hot-air balloon in the middle of an English field with two witnesses, Joe Rose and his girlfriend, Clarissa. This event sparks a chain of events that come to haunt and menace Joe Rose, namely in the form of a man, Jed Parry, one of the persons who was involved in the incident on that day. Jed, inexplicably, sees the chance meeting between him and Joe as divinely fated, and proceeds to stalk Joe with the intention of bringing him to God. The stalking becomes more and more intense. As the plot takes you through the perceptions of both victim and pursuer, you start to question the stalker’s true feelings. Is he merely lonely, in love with Joe, insane or just a zealous religious fanatic? McEwan’s concise, yet cinematic writing describes the horrific events and misperceptions that unfold in a way that made it impossible for me to put this book down.

    During the summer, I made it a goal of mine to finally get around to reading Anna Karenina. As is my habit, I have my own obsession of buying books and then allowing them to sit in piles unread, sometimes for years. At over 800 pages, Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel may seem like a daunting book to read, but after the long haul, I have to say it was worth it.

    A brief description of Anna Karenina may mislead you into thinking that Tolstoy’s classic novel of doomed love as something not very original: a wealthy, beautiful aristocratic woman in an unhappy marriage falls in love with a handsome, young and dashing army officer. I have read many classic and Victorian novels, many of which were great reads, however, Anna Karenina far exceeds all of them. The character of Anna, one of the most famous literary female characters of all time, fascinated me. As the novel progresses, we see Anna Karenina transform from a sympathetic and enchanting woman, to a destructive, tormented and tragic figure as her obsessive love for Count Vronsky takes its toll on her life.

    The biggest surprise for me was in the secondary plot following the character of Konstantin Levin, a young man who is obsessed with the big questions of life. Levin throughout the novel is preoccupied with what it means to live a good life. In complete contrast to Anna, Levin is a sympathetic, warm, awkward character with an unrequited love. He goes through a journey of self-actualization that I found more satisfying and deeply affecting than Anna’s story.

    Anna Karenina book cover

    Picture Books… for Adults

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Last week I shared five Graphic Novels about unexpected subjects with you in Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics. Here now are five complex, mature, and unexpected… picture books. There's something for everyone.

    Ever heard of book spine poetry? Well, pile up some books, look at the titles on the spine and make a poem.

    Sorted books by Nina Katchadourian has some great book spine poems including highlights such as: "A Short Guide to Writing about Art / Criticizing Photographs / This is Not a Photograph" and "Primitive Art / Just Imagine / Picasso / Raised by Wolves."

     

     

    The Da Vinci Cod : and Other Illustrations for Unwritten Books by Christopher Riddell (a Sunday times cartoon columnist and children’s book illustrator) is wittier than an earful of mice. Each one-pane comic reframes titles from famous literary classics such as “Jane Ear” with hilarious, detailed, one-frame illustrations. Some examples are: "Anglicanism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (featuring a priest riding a motorcycle), "Apes of Wrath" (featuring Apes…), "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe Assistant" (featuring a Queer fashion designer). For further fun check out his website which has three additional sets of illustrations to unwritten books.

     

    The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger (enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife??) is her first (self) published book. Before becoming an author Niffenegger went to art school (the Art Institute of Chicago), and made her first book out of a series of dry-prints (etchings); before deciding to turn them into a story. The resulting book brings together a series of prints she did for her graduating thesis. It’s a Frankenstenian love story involving a captured woman morphing into a moth, having Napoleon as a lover, complete with a creepy yet comforting conclusion to love lost, amongst other things. This is classic Niffenegger and echoes themes explored in The Time Traveller’s Wife. You might also want to check out The Three Incestuous Sisters.

     

    About Love – 3 Stories by Anton Chekhov. Three classic short stories by the Russian author translated by David Helwig. A former poet laureate of Prince Edward Island and an Officer of the Order of Canada, he has written twenty volumes of fiction and fourteen volumes of poetry. Comfily illustrated by Seth the book invites curling up with a loved one and reading it together over a cup of cocoa.

     

    The Dot and the Line - a Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is a great illustrated story that is allegorical and philosophical while remaining quite simple and downright funny.

    There are many other gems embedded in our Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections. Stay tuned for future recommendations!

     

      

    New York Review Books Classics

    by Dieu - 0 Comment(s)

    NYRB Classics are, to a large degree, discoveries, the kind of books that people typically run into outside of the classroom and then remember for life. ~ from NYRB website

    Ice Trilogy cover Love in a fallen city cover Pedigree book cover Stray dog cabaret: a book of Russian poems book cover The True Deceiver book cover Songs of Kabir book cover The mountain lion book cover Proud beggars books cover

    If you were to ask me what my favourite books of all time were, my answers would be predictable with a mix of surprises thrown in for good measure. I find that many of my most pleasurable reading experiences involved books that came as surprises, books that should be considered classics and yet for some reason missed reaching a mass audience.

    Another fellow library staff person recently wrote about the book Stoner by John Wiliams, a novel that I had read many years ago and loved. I remember thinking at the time, “why has no one heard of this book?” To my delight, the book is now getting the attention it deserves, reaching bestseller status all over Europe.

    Stoner is one of many books published by New York Review Books as part of its Classics series. You can browse the New York Review Books Classics collection on their website and the Calgary Public Library owns many titles in the series. Just do a general search for “New York Review books classics” in the Library’s catalog to find all the titles we have in the collection.

    Stoner book cover

    The World I Live In Book Cover

    At the moment I am reading The World I Live In by Helen Keller, a title that had been out of print for nearly a century before NYRB decided to publish it again. Helen Keller was an American author and was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of arts degree. Many people may know of her biography from the play and film, “The Miracle Worker”.

    Born in 1880 as a healthy child, Helen was mysteriously struck by an illness over a year later that left her deaf and blind. It was not until five years later that she was released from her despair by a 21 year old half-blind teacher, Anne Sullivan. It was then that Helen learned how to communicate through the use of the manual alphabet.

    I found The World I Live In to be extremely personal and inspiring and more than anything, the essays in the book showcase Helen's gift for writing. In the book, she explains to readers the emotional and psychological link between language and the spectrum of senses that she uses to navigate the world around her.

    What I love most about the NYRB Classics series is its diversity. The collection includes translations of masters such as Dante, Chekhov, and Balzac, works spanning geography, eras, and genres including fiction, cult favorites, literary criticism, travel writing, biography and even cookbooks! If you are on the hunt for a lost classic, then consider the NYRB Classics series as your guide. I certainly do, and find myself looking to their list whenever I am in need of something less ordinary.

    Staff Picks: Stoner by John Williams

    - 2 Comment(s)

    One of the great pleasures of working in a library is finding great, little known books and recommending them to friends and customers. About eight years ago I stumbled upon a reprint of a novel originally published in the mid-sixties called Stoner by John Williams. I fell in love with this story of a poor farm boy who discovers a love of literature and devotes himself to teaching English at a small university. The book was written in such a way that, before I knew it, I found myself caring more for the protagonist than I ever cared for a fictional character.

    Stoner is in many ways a sad novel, but I found inspiration in it as well. I have been recommending it to readers ever since and almost always people come back to tell me it is one of the best novels they have ever read. I have often wondered why this book is not widely known about, but have come to accept that not all great books get the attention they deserve.

    However, in the past few years something amazing has happened – Stoner has become a bestselling book right across Europe. In 2011, almost fifty years after its original publication and over fifteen years since the death of its author, Stoner became a phenomenon in France, Holland and Italy, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. This year it has become the book to read in England – being named Book of the Year by Waterstones booksellers, and last week the novelist Julian Barnes wrote an article in the Guardian outlining why Stoner was the must-read novel of 2013.

    Stoner mania has yet to catch on in North America in quite the same way, however the Globe and Mail recently did an article on the book, which has certainly stirred up a good deal of interest. I have noticed that suddenly there is a waiting list for the copies available from the Calgary Public Library, and my bookselling friends tell me they have sold numerous copies in the last couple weeks. So why not put your name down on the waiting list to read it now? I can almost guarantee that you’ll be glad you did.

    - Tyler at Louise Riley Library

    Staff Picks: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

    by Sonya - 2 Comment(s)

    Halloween has come and gone, and for many, that means it will be a whole year before you have to think about witches or vampires again. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, though, let the season last a little longer by immersing yourself if this richly detailed debut novel by historian Deborah Harkness.

    Although populated by witches, vampires and other supernatural beings, this novel is not a typical fantasy tale. The vivid historical detail and complex plot, part fantasy, part romance, sets this novel (part of a trilogy) apart.

    Diana Bishop is a young historian who has rejected her magical inheritance and always tried to distance herself and her scholarly life from the Bishop family legacy. While studying in Oxford, Diana stumbles across a manuscript that seems to have magic imbued in it. Scholarship and research is her calling, and she wants nothing to do with magic, so of course she examines the manuscript, takes notes, and returns it to the archives. But unknown to Diana, her contact with the manuscript has caused wide ripples in the supernatural world. With mysterious events set in motion, she will no longer be able to avoid her magical heritage. From our catalogue summary: "Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense."

    A word of warning: once you start, you won't want to put this down! And while the second book of the trilogy, Shadow of Night, was published in 2012, the third book is yet to come, so you may be waiting in suspense until the third volume appears. And if you start reading and wonder when the "historical" part will begin... just keep reading! You won't be disappointed.

    Your Fall Reading List is Here

    by Sonya - 1 Comment(s)

    Now that the "September rush" is over—Yikes! October already!—are you looking for something new to read? Find out which books are the most talked about, read reviews, and see what will go on your own reading list. I've compiled a few links to various recommended reading lists, and for once, I've also finished reading one of the hot new titles that appears on several of the lists! So, I'll start with my own recommendations and go from there.

    Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam completes her dystopian trilogy that started with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. [Spoiler alert: if you haven't read them, stop reading this right now and go read Oryx and Crake!] The first two novels presented alternate, and interwoven, viewpoints of the same timeline of events in a chillingly believable future version of our world. Genetically modified organisms and genetic-enhancement cosmetic procedures abound; powerful "Corps" control money, media, politics, and the lives and deaths of the nameless masses trying to survive the toxic pleeblands. Various secret groups and splinter cults try to undermine or avoid the influence of the Corps... and one young scientific genius, Crake, either madman or visionary, has had enough. Crake engineers both the mass extinction of humanity and the birth of a new type of human. MaddAddam continues the story as a handful of humans, together with the "Crakers," try to survive in the aftermath.

    If, like me, you are fascinated by the complex world and characters Atwood created in the first two novels, you have to read the third. What I loved about this novel is it allows us to discover the Crakers both as individuals and as a new culture, as this culture develops. There is also the thread of storytelling, and how it is linked to our legends and beliefs. Atwood is a master storyteller and weaves her magic once again in this novel. Along with the feeling of completion and melancholy having just finished reading MaddAddam, I also feel anticipation—time to go back to Oryx and Crake and read them all again.

    CBC Fall Reading List:

    On this list, you'll find both Atwood's latest and Lawrence Hill's Massey Lecture, Blood: the Stuff of Life. If you haven't read anything from Lawrence Hill, now is the perfect time! His fantastic novel The Book of Negroes, which I've blogged about before, is the chosen book for this year's One Book, One Calgary events.

     

    Quill & Quire Canadian:

    More notable Canadian fiction, including both new and familiar names.

    Quill & Quire International:

    Among new efforts from several big names, including Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Chuck Palanhiuk, the one that caught my eye is The Guts by Roddy Doyle, described as a sequel to his breakout novel The Commitments. This time around, the characters first introduced as young musicians in a band are middle aged family guys, and dealing with cancer. With Doyle's signature warmth and humour, it should be a good one.

     

    Publisher's Weekly Fall Books Preview:

    This extensive list (with reminders to check back as more titles are added) includes material for all ages, with links to more in-depth listings. One that caught my eye is a debut fiction novel from a True Crime writer. If that sounds interesting, check out The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton. The plot involves the kidnapping of a 13-year old girl.

    Oprah's Books into Movies:

    One of my all-time favourite novels, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, appears on this list. Personally, I always read the book first (and, truthfully, am often disappointed by movie adaptations), so if this one's slipped under your radar, now is the time to read it before the movie is released. Although categorized as a young adult novel, this one transcends age boundaries and has wide appeal. To paraphrase the summary in our catalogue: "[i]n superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time." This unforgettable novel, narrated by Death, is the story of a young girl living in a small German town in 1939.

     

    What's on your reading list this fall? Let us know in the comments.

    How to Find a Great Mystery Series (Part I)

    by Sonya - 8 Comment(s)

    Sometimes life is all about change. Whether you encounter good changes in your life or difficult ones, it takes a certain amount of energy just to adapt. So, if you're looking for a measure of stability, why not escape into a great mystery series? I enjoy reading novels across many genres, and when I'm in the mood for something comfortable and familiar I reach for a favourite series.

    In the next few weeks I'll be featuring a few great mystery series from all ends of the genre, and to start it off this week, I'll highlight mystery series from the lighter end of the spectrum.

    Cozy:

    This genre is a staple of the mystery tradition, along the lines of Agatha Christie: the murder (if there is one) takes place off-stage, and the focus is on solving the puzzle. Often featuring a cast of characters in a small village or equally pastoral setting, the fun of these mysteries is in getting to know and love the characters better with each installment while trying to solve the mystery before the author reveals all.

    M. C. Beaton

    This author, whose style is described by a fan as "coziest of the cozy," has two popular mystery series that will keep you engaged without risk of blood spatter.

    If you like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series, The Agatha Raisin mysteries are a good bet. Start with the first book in the series, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (part of the volume Introducing Agatha Raisin). If you prefer to try audio for this title, now is your chance to get into the ebook revolution! It is available as an audio ebook from Overdrive. Here's a brief summary from Overdrive:

    After years of bullying and cajoling others as a high-flying public relations boss, Agatha Raisin's early retirement to the picture-postcard village of Carsley in the Cotswolds is a dream come true. And how better to begin making herself a local leading light than by entering the village quiche-making competition? Unburdened by old-fashioned ideas of fair play, the ruthless Agatha decides to ensure she wins by buying her entry from a London delicatessen. Alas, Agatha's perfect product is soon exposed—as not only store-bought but poisoned. The contest judge succumbs after eating it, and with him go Agatha's reputation and her chances of rural bliss—unless she can expose the poisoner...

    The other series from Beaton is the Hamish MacBeth mystery series--up to 29 books and counting! Hamish MacBeth is a police officer. In fact, his person makes up the entire police force of Lachdubh in northern Scotland. In the first title in the series, available as an ebook, Death of a Gossip, we meet a group of eight people who are there to relax, enjoy the Highland scenery, and take in the fishing. Unfortunately, when one among them is found murdered, nobody is too upset (in fact, as she found a way to alienate them all, they are secretly a bit relieved). From our catalogue summary:

    Jane Winters--Lady Jane--was a noted gossip columnist enrolled in the Lachdubh School of Casting (fish casting, that is). She had something on everyone in class--and so, bobby Hamish Macbeth figured, any one of them could have killed her.

    If you're already familiar with M. C. Beaton's books, here is an award-winning Canadian author you might be interested in:

    Alan C. Bradley

    Bradley writes the Flavia de Luce series, featuring the unforgettable 11-year-old chemist (specialty: poisons) and amateur sleuth, set in the English countryside post-World War II. Start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, in which Flavia comes upon a stranger on the grounds of Buckshaw, the family estate, as he takes his last breath:

    "I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullet's custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the family's loyal handyman, Dogger... or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime -- even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and it's up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim's identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces' murky past. A thoroughly entertaining romp of a novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is inventive and quick-witted, with tongue-in-cheek humour that transcends the macabre seriousness of its subject.

    Funny:

    There are many great series which combine a mystery framework with offbeat characters and farcical situations. The real key with humour is whether the author's particular brand of hilarity and rhythm of delivery "clicks" with your own sense of humour--then you have a winner! Here are a few I'd recommend:

    Janet Evanovich

    Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series offers wacky characters in... let's say unlikely scenarios, with a splash of romance thrown in to the mix--as far as I can tell, the combination works! She's up to 19 novels in this series, and judging by the hold lists, I'm not the only one who waits in line for the next installment. Start with One for the Money (part of the omnibus of volumes 1-3, Three Plums in One) and see if this series can make you chuckle. From our catalogue summary:

    Stephanie's all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad and doing her best to sever the world's longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case. Out of work and out of money, Stephanie blackmails her bail-bondsman cousin Vinnie into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures her new pal, el-primo bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her what it takes to catch a crook. Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. Morelli's the inamorato who charmed Stephanie out of her virginity at age sixteen. There's still powerful chemistry between them, so the chase is interesting.

    Lisa Lutz

    One thing I really love about Lutz's writing is her perfect timing for dialogue--it's unsurprising that the author has written screenplays as well as novels. In The Spellman Files, you'll get to know Izzy Spellman and her eccentric family of PIs. Izzy is the resident underachiever, working in the family business, and trying to keep her nosy family out of her private life--no easy feat when practically every member of the family is busy investigating (and blackmailing) each other! The wry humour, plot twists and quirky but realistic characters will pull you in, but as the series progresses, you'll find there's also a well-hidden warm heart at the core.

    From the catalogue summary:

    Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman. Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious new series featuring the Spellman family in all its lovable chaos.

    Spencer Quinn

    The fabulous Chet and Bernie mystery series is published under this pseudonym of author Peter Abrahams. Chet is the narrator of our series, the canine half of the PI team with retired cop Bernie Little. If you've ever had or known a dog, you really shouldn't miss this series! While avoiding trite fluffiness, Quinn perfectly captures the canine inner voice while crafting fast-paced mysteries full of plot twists and interesting characters. Start with Dog On It, and get ready to recommend it to all your friends!

    From our catalogue summary:

    In this irresistible new detective series featuring a canine narrator, Quinn speaks two languages--suspense and dog--fluently. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and in a few places terrifying . . . [a] one-of-a-kind novel (Stephen King).

    Do you have a favourite light mystery series? We always love to get recommendations--leave yours in the comments.

    It's a mad, mad world

    by Suzen - 0 Comment(s)

    March is a huge month for television this year thanks to the much anticipated return of AMC’s Mad Men. About to begin its fifth season, this show has got everything I love about a good TV drama – great character-driven storylines and tons of style.

    If you’re a fan of the show then you can probably empathize with the agony I’ve been going through during its 2-year hiatus, especially since the fourth season ended with such a punch to the chest. I'm not going to lie -- it’s been tough to fill the Don Draper-sized void in my life, but thanks to DVDs from our collection my heart has had a bit of a reprieve. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked about the season premiere coming up in just a few days.

    So, in celebration of Mad Men’s return to my PVR, I present to you a list of related reads. If you love Mad Men, then there’s a strong possibility you will love these books too.

    The Last Letter from Your LoverThe Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

    It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing - not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband. Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.


    The Irresistable Henry HouseThe Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald

    It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him. From his earliest days as a "practice baby" through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney's Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles' London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored-and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust. Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.

    The learnersThe Learners by Chip Kidd

    Set in the early 1960s, the Learners is the story of Happy, a young graphic designer who lands his first job at a wacky advertising firm in New Haven, Connecticut. Among his colourful co-workers is Sketch, the lovable, aging illustrator whose finely-crafted drawings of potato chips are regarded by Happy as near masterpieces; Tip, the quick-witted copy-writer who's always hunting for the next snappy slogan; and Mimi, the cold, eccentric matriarch, who treats her enormous dog as if he's her husband. Happy fits right in among these likable eccentrics, and together, they struggle to hold onto their most important client, Cringle Potato Chips, and land the new and lucrative Buckle Shoes account.

    that mad acheThat Mad Ache by Francoise Sagan

    That Mad Ache, set in high-society Paris in the mid-1960’s, recounts the emotional battle unleashed in the heart of Lucile, a sensitive but rootless young woman who finds herself caught between her carefree, tranquil love for 50-year-old Charles, a gentle, reflective, and well-off businessman, and her sudden wild passion for 30-year-old Antoine, a hot-blooded, impulsive, and struggling editor. As Lucile explores these two versions of love, she vacillates in confusion, but in the end she must choose, and her heart’s instinct is surprising and poignant. Originally published under the title La Chamade, this new translation by Douglas Hofstadter returns a forgotten classic to English.

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