Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Penny for your Thoughts

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen.

Louise Penny

Louise Penny

This month Louise Penny’s ninth novel featuring Chief Inspector Gamache debuted in the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller List. “How The Light Gets In” continues the ongoing saga of Gamache of the Sûreté Quebec, which began with 2005’s “Still Life.” Fans of the series will already be familiar with Penny’s memorable characters and endearing settings, but for those newbies out there, why don’t we do a quick round-up on the series so far?

still-life-louise-pennyIn “Still Life” we are introduced to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté and his two assistants, Beauvoir and Nichol.   They are called to the small peaceful village of Three Pines to investigate the death of a local artist who was seemingly killed accidentally on  Thanksgiving weekend by a stray hunter’s arrow. If you enjoyed the people of Three Pines, don’t worry: this isn’t the last you’ll see of them.

Fatal GraceIn “A Fatal Grace” Armand returns to Three Pines, the same rural community where “Still Life” took place. This time, he’s investigating the death of a woman who was electrocuted on a frozen lake during the town’s curling tournament. The victim had many enemies, and as the story deepens, not everything is as it seems. Maybe this Three Pines place isn’t as peaceful and nice as everyone says it is?

Cruelest MonthThree Pines certainly has had its share of misfortune. In “The Cruelest Month,” Inspector Gamache gets called in once again, but this time he is investigating the remains of a séance where it seems as if someone was frightened to death. I’m starting to have second thoughts about this place…

murder stoneWell it seems Inspector Gamache is finally getting a break in  “The Murder Stone.”  It’s his anniversary and he and his wife are spending it at a lovely bed and breakfast manor house in the country. BUT WAIT! That manor house is located just outside (you guessed it!) Three Pines, and guess what? Yep. Someone is murdered there, and Gamache cannot even enjoy one weekend off. Maybe he should have come to Winnipeg for his anniversary instead?

Brutal TellingIt doesn’t seem like Gamache is even surprised anymore when he gets the call that someone’s been murdered in Three Pines at the beginning of “The Brutal Telling.”  This time, an elderly man has been bludgeoned in the only café. I’m not going to tell the good people of Three Pines how to live their lives, but maybe they may want to consider deadbolts and security systems on their homes. Just sayin’.

Bury your DeadMaybe the residents of Three Pines took my advice, because the next novel, “Bury Your Dead” takes place in Quebec City. Gamache is on vacation with his wife, but when someone is murdered in the City’s Literary and Historical Society Library the death takes Gamache down a complicated and harrowing road where he second guesses his case-work from the previous novel, “The Brutal Telling.”  Thought by many to be the best one in the series, “Bury Your Dead” is definitely Penny’s most ambitious novel so far, and shows her real skill with character development and plotting.

A Trick of the LightIt’s almost comforting to know the murderous but peaceful people of Three Pines are back to their old tricks when the childhood friend of a local artist is murdered, and that artist is pegged as the chief suspect in “A Trick of the Light.”  Just a thought: maybe Inspector Gamache would save some gas money if he rented an apartment in Three Pines?

Beautiful MysteryA clear departure from the series, Gamache and his assistant Beauvoir are called to a secluded monastery LOCATED IN THREE PINES (no, it’s not. just kidding), to investigate the murder of the choirmaster in “The Beautiful Mystery.” One of the remaining 23 monks is the killer, but to solve this murder, Gamache and Beauvoir have to spend time in this remote place and come to terms with their own personal demons. Described by many as the darkest of the series, I am sure the people of Three Pines are breathing a sigh of relief that nothing bad happened in their village…….OR DID IT?

How the Light Gets inWhich brings us to the newest novel, “How The Light Gets In.”  Gamache’s work life is looking pretty bleak, so when a call to come down to his favourite haunt, Three Pines, results in a missing person’s case, he jumps at the chance. Back on familiar ground, Gamache’s world is changing and he is forced to deal with a number of personal and professional issues that were introduced in the previous stories. Early reviews are calling this one “the best one yet”.


The Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominees

gillerAs you may know, The Scotiabank Giller Prize is an annual award given to the best work in Canadian fiction, as chosen by a small yet distinguished group of jurists. The winner of the Prize, now in its 20th year, receives 50 grand. The five finalists will be announced October 8th (the winner November 4th) , but until then, here is the full list of nominees, a handy reference on what to read during our long winter nights, or what to get a loved one this Christmas!

The promoters summarize the list beautifully: “These are essential stories. Each of these novels and story collections offer a glimpse of who we are, who we might be. Whether set in postwar Vienna, or 1970s Montreal, contemporary Afghanistan or Newfoundland, each of these books took us out of ourselves to places that were at times uncomfortable, at times exhilarating. Some of the short stories in these collections exhibit a scope and breadth one would normally associate with a novel; some of the novels on this list have the distilled intensity one expects from short fiction. But all of these books surprised us with their formal rigour, the ferocity of their vision, and their willingness to tell unknown stories in remarkably familiar ways.”

That list of nominees promised:

goinghomeagainGoing Home Again by Dennis Bock
“A novel about the mysteries of the human heart, Going Home Again is rich with the exquisite tensions between men and women as they fall in and out of love.”

The Orenda by Joseph Boydenorenda
“Boyden’s bloody and brick-thick new novel, The Orenda, is a historical epic about an idealistic missionary caught between warring tribes, hundreds of years before confederation. . . Full of head-bludgeoning and throat-cutting scenes set in the wilds of what is now Ontario, the novel feels like a hybrid of Pierre Berton and Cormac McCarthy: perfect for readers who like a little arterial spray with their history.” – Toronto Life

hell goingHellgoing by Lynn Coady
“With astonishing range and depth, Lynn Coady gives us eight unforgettable new stories, each one of them grabbing our attention from the first line and resonating long after the last.”

cataract-cityCataract City by Craig Davidson
“Owen and Duncan think they are different: both dream of escape, a longing made more urgent by a near-death incident in childhood that sealed their bond. But in adulthood their paths diverge, and as Duncan, the less privileged, falls deep into the town’s underworld, he and Owen become reluctant adversaries at opposite ends of the law. At stake is not only survival and escape, but a lifelong friendship that can only be broken at an unthinkable price.”

How-To-Get-Along-With-WomenHow to Get Along With Women by Elisabeth De Mariaffi
“Infused with a close and present danger, these stories tighten the knot around power, identity, and sexuality, and draw the reader into the pivotal moments where – for better or for worse – we see ourselves for what we truly are.”

extraordinaryExtraordinary by David Gilmour
“A heart-rending novel about end-of-life, family and children. A gentle consideration of assisted suicide, but it is also a story about siblings – about how brothers and sisters turn out so differently; about how little, in fact, turns out the way we expect. In the end, this is a novel about the extraordinary business of being alive….”

october 1970October 1970 by Louis Hamelin
“Two kidnappings. One dead. A crisis unlike anything the country had ever seen; here is the story behind history…”

emancipation dayEmancipation Day by Wayne Grady
“How far would a son go to belong? And how far would a father go to protect him?” “…this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.”

The-Son-of-a-Certain-Woman-711x1024The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston
“The Son of a Certain Woman is Wayne Johnston’s funniest, sexiest novel yet, controversial in its issues, wise, generous and then some in its depiction of humanity.” – Google Books

the-woman-upstairs-claire-messud-n4kimy14The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
“From the best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children, a masterly new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed and betrayed by a desire for a world beyond her own.”

caughtCaught by Lisa Moore
“…about a man who escapes from prison to embark upon one of the most ambitious pot-smuggling adventures ever attempted. Here are bravado and betrayal, bad weather and seas, love, undercover agents, the collusion of governments, unbridled ambition, innocence and the loss thereof, and many, many bales of marijuana. Here, too, is the seeming invincibility of youth and all the folly that it allows. Caught is an exuberant, relentlessly suspenseful, and utterly unique novel, and promises to be the astonishing Lisa Moore’s most accomplished work to date.”

crooked maidThe Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta
“A dark and suspenseful novel set in post-war Vienna among the spectators in a criminal trial mid-summer, 1948. Two strangers, Anna Beer and young Robert Seidel, meet on a train as they return to Vienna, where life is just resuming after the upheavals of war. Men who were conscripted into the German army are filtering back home, including Anna’s estranged husband, Dr. Anton Beer, who was held prisoner in a brutal Russian camp. But when Anna returns to their old apartment, she finds another man living there and her husband missing.”


– Lyle

What Goes Around Comes Around

futureThere has been much angst as to whether we are living in a golden age of human prosperity or whether are we living in an age of decline or possible regression.  In the 1980’s, at a time when I was studying political science and history, there were catchy subfields attempting to explain and understand social trends and movements.  Does anyone remember, or has anyone heard of cybernetics or futurology?  The latter is best represented by the author Alvin Toffler who wrote Future Shock and The Third Wave.

digitalA dominant view (if  not THE dominant view) of history and social progress is that every generation is inexorably marching forward in time with the intention of making the world a better place. This can be found in titles such as Ray Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed and The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Eric Schmidt’s  The New Digital Age, and Steven Pinker’s, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Alternatively there are more critical or skeptical views that include a wide range of thinkers such as Niall Ferguson’s, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies, and Jane Jacob’s last book Dark Age Ahead.

This interpretation, which often conceals a particular western bias, is that through technology and innovation human society is continually improving.  An alternate point of view suggests human societies and even human progress can be cyclical, considering there could be periods of stagnation or even regression. Of interest, is that the debate transcends the typical left/right divide; what really separates the parties is not the usual battles of the ‘culture wars’ between the modernist’s and the traditionalist’s, but more a moral debate of what is lost or sacrificed in our head long rush to the future. It is hard to imagine many situations where Jane Jacobs and Niall Ferguson would agree on anything or even speak the same language, but I think their core principles are aligned on this topic.

What do the critics of the techno-evolution brand find to argue with?  I think  it is the idea we have forgotten or even willfully ignored our historical past and traditions, best described by what Jacob’s calls “cultural amnesia”.  It doesn’t matter if the perspective is more from the liberal/left tradition where the expansion of ‘human rights’ is our most important contribution, or if the belief is from the conservative/right where property rights and the rule of law is our most important legacy.  Both have emerged from our historical traditions, and it is my contention they must be remembered and respected, regardless of our own personal views, both collective and individual, of these rights.  These principles had to be fought for in order to be won, and they could just as easily be lost if we choose to forget.

There is a definite role for libraries to be a protector of  this grand tradition, the antidote to the threat of the cultural amnesia that Jacobs was referring to. In my opinion this is best exemplified in laws two and three of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science .  Specifically, “every person his or her book” and “every book it’s reader”. Just as in international relations, where civilization is struggling with the difficult task to fulfill the ‘responsibility to protect’, innocent people get caught in conflict not of their choosing. We who care about the cultural realm have a “responsibility to remember”.

Here are some more suggested reads:

pendulumRoy H. Williams, Pendulum: how Past Generations Shape our Present and Predict our Future
upsideThomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization’

Phil D.

The Handmaid’s Tale: A Ballet??

Handmaid's Tale BalletThis October, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be premiering a new ballet choreographed by the amazing Lila York and adapted from the classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s the story of a woman living in a possible not-too-distant future, where religious extremists have control over all aspects of life, but especially over reproduction.

This is an intriguing choice for a ballet, and I’m eager to see how it’s going to look, since in the novel women are obliged to wear robes that completely hide their bodies, which is pretty much the opposite of your typical ballet costume. WPL and RWB figured you all may be intrigued as well, so together we’re offering a peek behind the curtain (or under the robe?) of how this ballet is being put together. Join us for some informal lunch-hour talks, at the Millennium Library on October 1st, 8th, and 15th.

And the next time you’re here, or any branch for that matter, enter to win a pair of tickets to the ballet and a copy of the book signed by Margaret Atwood!

LewisTuesday, October 1, 12:10-12:50 pm: RWB Artistic Director André Lewis will discuss the transformation from book to ballet.

LawsonTuesday, October 8, 12:10-12:50 pm: Vanessa Lawson, a current Ballet Master and Former Principal Dancer, will dicuss working on this brand new ballet in her new role.

VandalTuesday, October 15, 12:10-12:50 pm: Costume Designer Liz Vandal will discuss creating the look.

All three talks are in the Carol Shields Auditorium (just off the second floor Skywalk) in the Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street.

Can’t wait until October? Here are some Handmaid’s Tale-related and ballet-related things to do in the meantime:

Choose from our large collection of ballet performances on DVD and Blu-ray, or catch the wonderful documentary Ballets Russes. You don’t need to know anything about ballet to enjoy this documentary on the company whose innovative work in the 1930s and 40s laid the foundation for modern ballet worldwide. It features footage of renowned prima ballerinas, designs by the likes of Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse, and interviews with some of the dancers themselves.

Ballet 101Take a crash course (or just brush up) on all things ballet with Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet by Robert Greskovic. It’s great for those being introduced to ballet for the first time, and those just looking to learn more about it. A bit of ballet history, some insight into a dancer’s training and standard steps, how a ballet is put together, and what to expect when attending a performance.

In The WingsIn the Wings: Behind the Scenes at the New York City Ballet by Kyle Froman offers an authentic behind-the-scenes experience from a dancer who’s been with the company for over ten years. Photographs and Froman’s personal diary depict the pursuit of beauty and perfection despite injury, illness, and fatigue, as well as the exhilaration that hits when it all pays off.

Intrigued by the concepts explored in The Handmaid’s Tale? Here are some books that deal with similar themes:

Women's CountryThe Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper. After a catastrophic world war a feminist dystopia develops, made up of independent walled cities run by women and inhabited solely by them, their young children, and the small number of studious and compliant men who serve them. The majority of men live in camps outside the cities and rarely do the two groups interact. Like Handmaid’s Tale, this is a story that explores power, violence, and extreme control of reproduction.

Native TongueNative Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin. In the twenty-second century, a new elite has arisen based on trade with beings on other planets and the ability to communicate with them. Women are property, without civil rights or involvement in public life, and the women of elite families are used to breed translators for the galaxies’ languages. Once past childbearing age, women are retired to the Barren House, where a slow revolution is secretly brewing.

Children of MenThe Children of Men by P.D. James. In the near future, society is facing grim prospects as, due to a plummeting sperm count, no children have been born in a generation. The Warden of England is becoming increasingly  tyrannical and is conducting desperate and dehumanizing fertility studies. Then, a tiny resistance known as the Five Fishes appears, and they possess perilous secrets. 

Hope you find something of interest here. See you around the library (and maybe the ballet, too)!





We’re all ears

summerreadingWell, the school year’s started back. I hope all the students and caregivers are having success getting adjusted to new routines. Here at the Library we’re re-grouping after a great summer of reading, literacy-based activities and just plain ole fun with Winnipeg children and families in July and August! Nearly 6,000 children signed up for our TD Summer Reading Club this year, and even more of you joined us for programs ranging from readings with Goldeyes baseball players to Family Literacy Fun Days to Lego ® Block Parties and more. We’ve had so many opportunities to interact with, and learn from, you and the children you care for – we hope you had as much fun as we did!

Learning more about you and what you think has been top-of-mind for us lately.  Many of you will have seen the pop-up survey about the full range of our services when you’ve visited our website. If you haven’t already filled it out (for your convenience there are short, medium and longer versions to take – though all are pretty quick!) please click on through.

We also had a parallel survey up specific to our TD Summer Reading Club – thank you to those of you who filled it out – your responses have just landed on our desk! And right now, we have a very short survey up about our Disney Digital Books service. Whether or not you’ve used this streaming collection we’re interested in hearing from you. We’re also giving away three prize packs, containing a Disney Cars characters encyclopedia and some Library swag. (If you haven’t tried out this streaming collection yet, visit our eBooks page, grab your Library card and log in).

Surveys like the above are great: they’re pretty quick, easy to circulate and we end up with lots of useful information to analyze (we love a good spreadsheet!). But some of the most rich and valuable feedback we receive from you though is in-person at our branches and mobile sites or out at festivals in the community. We hear about all the things you love about the Library and also about some areas where you feel we could improve, do a bit more or maybe just do something a bit differently. Those of you who bring the children you care for to the Library – whether for a program, to browse for fun titles or to get some homework research help – are some of our most robust feedback-givers and we appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts

Photo credit Mike Deal / WInnipeg Free Press.Services for children and families are a cornerstone for any public library system and WPL is no different. This fall as we start another round of our pre-school programs (registration began this past Friday, September 13 – check with your local branch about spaces availability) we hope you’ll take the time to let us know how we’re doing. Did you feel welcomed and comfortable in our spaces? Did you and your children learn a new rhyme or story or two (or three or four!)? Did you receive recommendations about where to find more of the same kind of great materials we showcase in these programs? Is there information about children’s books (ebooks too!) and early childhood literacy you wished we’d communicated more? Whatever your questions, it’s our job to find the answers you need so don’t hesitate to speak up.

Wishing you all a terrific fall season,


Best. Reading List. Ever.

This fall publishing season promises excitement and bestsellers by some of our most popular authors. If you haven’t already, get your library card out and start placing some holds! We’ll be receiving new works from Janet Evanovich (Takedown Twenty), James Patterson (Gone, Cross My Heart), David Baldacci (King and Maxwell), Patricia Cornwell (Dust), Lisa Scottoline (Accused), Jeffrey Deaver (The October List), Iris Johansen (Silencing Eve), and Anita Shreve (Stella Bain), to name a few. Other books that will be creating big splashes include Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda (which is receiving quite favourable reviews), C.C. Benison’s Ten Lords A-Leaping, Alexander McCall Smith’s The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon and Bertie Plays the Blues, and the much-anticipated new Rebus book by Ian Rankin, Saints of the Shadow Bible.

If you still have room on your library card to place a few more holds, I’d like to share with you some of the titles I’m most looking forward to in the coming months.

AutumnBonesAutumn Bones, the second book in author Jacqueline Carey‘s Agent of Hel series, is due out October 1st.  Not only is Ms Carey one of my favourite authors (I interviewed her for a podcast back in 2007 – one of the most exciting days of my life), but I have completely fallen in love with this urban fantasy series. I remember hugging the first book, Dark Currents, when I first finished reading it. Even if urban fantasy isn’t your thing, I urge you to give this book a try! You can thank me later.
From the publisher: “Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel. Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one. He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything.”

DinosaurFeatherThankfully, Scandinavian authors are still popular in the publishing world. The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan will be released on November 5th, and has been generating quite a bit of interest. Winner of the Danish Crime Novel of the Decade, this debut novel is a classic of Scandinavian noir, from its richly imagined and deeply flawed characters to its scintillating exploration of one of the most fascinating aspects of contemporary dinosaur and avian research.
From the publisher: “Professor Lars Helland is found at his desk with his tongue lying in his lap. A violent fit has caused him to bite through it in his death throes. A sad but simple end. Until the autopsy results come through. The true cause of his death – the slow, systematic and terrible destruction of a man – leaves the police at a loss. And when a second member of Helland’s department disappears, their attention turns to a postgraduate student named Anna. She’s a single mother, angry with the world, desperate to finish her degree. Would she really jeopardise everything by killing her supervisor? As the police investigate the most brutal and calculated case they’ve ever known, Anna must fight her own demons, prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.”

HildDescribed as both glorious and extraordinary, Hild by Nicola Griffith will be released November 12th. Hild is born into a world in transition. As a big fan of Hilary Mantel, I’m quite looking forward to this historical work.
From the publisher: “In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, usually violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods’ priests are worrying. Edwin of Northumbria plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Hild is the king’s youngest niece. She has the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world—of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing human nature and predicting what will happen next—that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her. She establishes herself as the king’s seer. And she is indispensable—until she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, her family, her loved ones, and the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can read the world and see the future.”

ReturnedReleased this past August, Jason Mott’s The Returned offers quite an interesting premise, which is what attracted me to the book (I’m #13 on the holds list). Reading this book is bound to bring up some strong feelings and hopefully challenge my way of thinking!
From the publisher: “Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep — flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old. All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.”

WhereMoonIsntOriginally released in the United Kingdom under the title The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer‘s Where the Moon Isn’t has been described as “an extraordinary portrait of one man’s journey through the spinning vortex that is mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.” Another book that is guaranteed to delightfully put me through the wringer. I can’t wait until November 5th!
From the publisher: “While on vacation with their parents, Matthew Homes and his older brother snuck out in the middle of the night. Only Matthew came home safely. Ten years later, Matthew tells us, he has found a way to bring his brother back. What begins as the story of a lost boy turns into a story of a brave man yearning to understand what happened that night, in the years since, and to his very person.”

WorstPersonEverYay, another Douglas Coupland book! Worst. Person. Ever. will be released October 3rd, and I can’t wait. I think this book will be a challenge, however, because the main character sounds so awful. Luckily, Coupland never disappoints me!
From the publisher: “Meet Raymond Gunt. A decent chap who tries to do the right thing. Or, to put it another way, the worst person ever: a foul-mouthed, misanthropic cameraman, trailing creditors, ex-wives and unhappy homeless people in his wake. Men dislike him, women flee from him. Worst. Person. Ever. is a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value. Gunt, in the words of the author, “is a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id.” He’s a B-unit cameraman who enters an amusing downward failure spiral that takes him from London to Los Angeles and then on to an obscure island in the Pacific where a major American TV network is shooting a Survivor-style reality show. Along the way, Gunt suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to re-enact the ‘Angry Dance’ from the movie Billy Elliot and finds himself at the centre of a nuclear war. We also meet Raymond’s upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, as well as Raymond’s ex-wife, Fiona, herself ‘an atomic bomb of pain’. Even though he really puts the ‘anti’ in anti-hero, you may find Raymond Gunt an oddly likeable character.”

ChilledBoneAnd finally, another Scandinavian title, this one coming to us via British author Quentin Bates. Chilled to the Bone is the third mystery featuring Sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir of the Reykjavik police force. You have time to read up on her first two adventures before this book is released on December 3rd.
From the publisher: “When a shipowner is found dead, tied to a bed in one of Reykjavik’s smartest hotels, sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir of the city police force sees no evidence of foul play but still suspects things are not as cut and dried as they seem. And as she investigates the shipowner’s untimely – and embarrassing – demise, she stumbles across a discreet bondage society whose members are being systematically exploited and blackmailed. But how does all this connect to a local gangster recently returned to Iceland after many years abroad, and the unfortunate loss of a government laptop containing sensitive data about various members of the ruling party? What begins as a straightforward case for Gunnhildur soon explodes into a dangerous investigation, uncovering secrets that ruthless men are ready to go to violent extremes to keep.”


Back to School: Resources to Help Parents Navigate the School Year

It’s getting dark earlier, the weather is getting cooler and the kids are back at school. It’s hard to believe, but summer is over already and we’re into yet another school year. In order to help you ensure that this school year goes smoothly for both you and your kids, the library has a number of resources that are sure to help you out!

lunch 2Most parents dread having to make lunches again, and with an increase in children’s allergies, we don’t even have our stand-by lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Parents need to be more creative in sending healthy lunches that their children will actually eat! The library has several new books hat will assist you in making delicious yet healthy lunches for your kids. Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love by Katie Sullivan Morford provides many lunch ideas sure to please the fussiest of children. As Morford writes in the introduction, “This book is a toolbox full of fresh ideas to help you break from the lunch-box rut that plagues the best of us.”  If you have a child who needs to eat gluten-free food, then the book for you is Stealth Health Lunches Kids Love : Irresistible and Nutritious Gluten-Free Sandwiches, Wraps and Other Easy Eats by Tracy Griffith. Full of recipes for tacos, rolls, pita sandwiches and wraps, this book provides many ideas for non-gluten child friendly lunch recipes.

If you think that your child needs a bit of assistance in the studying department studythen you might want to check out School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety Busting Tools by Wendy Moss.  Aimed at kids between the ages of 8 and 13, this book is for kids who leave work until the last minute, get nervous about homework and tests, and require some strategies to combat these problems.  It was well reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly, so you might want to give this book a try if any of the previous issues apply to your child.

facebookThere are also a few resources which might help you navigate social media and Internet use for your child for another school year. Several online resources discuss safe Internet behavior for children and it’s worth your while to go over these with your children, as it’s been my experience that schools teach Internet safety sporadically, depending on the school division. Internet Safety Resources is an RCMP website on Internet safety that includes resources such as Surfing Safe Means Surfing Smart, providing common-sense tips for children using the Internet and focuses on tips such as not providing personal information, no chatting with strangers, etc. Another interesting read is Talking Back to Facebook: the common sense guide to raising kids in the digital age by James P. Steyer. What effect does excessive use of social media have on our kids? How can we limit use by our kids? Parents need to be aware of the impact of social media and its impact on our children’s lives.  Though my son doesn’t have a social media presence (he’s only 9) I’m shocked at how many kids already had social media accounts — in kindergarten! If we’re more aware of the issues surrounding our children’s use of social media, then we can teach our children about appropriate use.

Another book worth reading is Bullied: what every parent, teacher and kid needs to know about ending the cycle of fearbully by Carrie Goldman. This book will provide you with strategies to use if your child is enduring bullying. Even if your child hasn’t been bullied, this book is still useful as it discusses how children should respond when they witness acts of bullying. Reading this book will definitely provide you with more information as you discuss this topic with your child.

If you need any other resources that might help you and/or your kids survive this school year, don’t hesitate to ask your local library’s staff!


Doing the Derby

Last Friday morning I arrived at work at Millennium Library bruised, sweaty, exhausted, but, overall, riding high on endorphins. I’d been up since five a.m. with a bunch of other members of the Winnipeg Roller Derby League, drilling and skating in a mock scrimmage for a live morning TV broadcast. Despite the early hour, and the fact that we’d all been at another two-hour practice less than 12 hours before, we were a pretty chipper, boisterous group, mostly because we were all doing what we love: hitting, sweating, and living roller derby.

whipit Modern roller derby is quite different from the staged “sports entertainment” shows on TV in the 80s and 90s, with stars like Gwen Skinny Minnie Miller, plenty of over-the-top action and WWE-like pre-scripted outcomes. Modern roller derby is grassroots; it’s still full-contact, and the larger-than-life characters and edgy player names still dominate, but it’s low-budget, run by the players, and above all, it’s a real sport. The hits are real, but if you take someone down illegally, you’re going to the penalty box.

If you’re interested in exploring this burgeoning sport, check out a few of the resources available on our library shelves:

Derby Girl (book) and Whip It (movie) by Shauna Cross

Basically a running-away-to-join-the-circus story; a young teen stuck in small-town Texas finds kinship and acceptance among the bold, tattooed personalities in the roller derby league in nearby Austin. A lot of people first heard about modern roller derby in the Ellen Page/Drew Barrymore movie Whip It, the screenplay for which Cross wrote around the same time she penned Derby Girl (later retitled Whip It to match the movie). Cross brought true-to-life experience to the page, having skated under the name Maggie Mayhem for the LA Derby Dolls.  There may be some Hollywood-style liberties taken in the movie but, pretty much every derby girl who sees it agrees, they got the part about kinship and sisterhood just right. When you join a roller derby league, you join a family.

Talking Derby: Stories From a Life on Eight Wheels by Kate “Pain Eyre” Hargreaves

A series of short vignettes and day-in-the-life-of moments from Pain Eyre’s life on the derby track with the Border City Brawlers in Windsor, ON. Most of the stories are short, terse and whip-sharp — just like derby!

Down and Derby: The Insider’s Guide to Roller Derby by Alex “Axles of Evil” Cohen and Jennifer “Kasey Bomber” Barbee

If you’re looking for a less anecdotal, and more factual, run-down of the derby world, check out this insider’s guide. Both authors skated with the LA Derby Dolls & worked on training Hollywood actresses for Whip It. Some of the rules might be a bit out of date, given that the WFDTA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) rules recently underwent a major overhaul, but the basics still hold true.

And finally, if you’re looking for something a bit fun, we’ve also got Joelle Charbonneau’s Skating On the Edge. It’s the third volume in a series of mysteries featuring small-town roller rink owner Rebecca Robbins. In this volume, Robbins asks derby girl Sherlene-n-Mean to fill in for her in the dunk tank at the local fair, but Sherlene ends up electrocuted. You better believe they figure out whodunit, because there’s one thing that’s certain: if you take out a derby girl, her teammates will be coming for you. See you on the track!

Sophie “The Scufflepuff”