Category Archives: Seasonal

Summer Spooktacle

Summer is a time of sunshine, sand, ice cream, and s’mores around the campfire. There is nothing quite like sitting around a toasty fire while staring up at the stars, listening to the rustling of the wind in the trees while someone tells a scary story.

If you want to keep the spooky times rolling even after your summer vacation is over (if you ask me, it’s never too early to start getting ready for Halloween!), check out items in the list below, guaranteed to bring that campfire feeling into your home! Maybe leave the fire outside, though.

 The Curse of the Wendigo by Nick Yancey

In book 2 of the Monstrumologist series, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiancée to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied?

If you’ve never encountered the Wendigo in your reading, it’s well worth checking this one out. It’s one of the creepiest folkloric creatures I’ve run into in my reading adventures!

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Speaking as someone who recently missed a turn and then found herself driving on a deserted highway surrounded by marsh, and then on a lonely dirt road through endless cornfields, all under a partially cloud-covered full moon, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that you might see a ghostly figure along the side of the road.

Haunted highways are a classic amongst urban legends. You might recognize some of these popular titles: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

In fact, in Sparrow Hill Road, she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom.

If you’re feeling brave, feel free to bring this along as your next road trip read!

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

Killer mermaids and ghost ships, anyone?

When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses. They didn’t expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn’t expect those mermaids to have teeth.

As a novella, this book is a nice, quick read, perfect for the beach!

And if you enjoy this one, keep an eye out for the next book in the series, Into the Drowning Deep.

Gravity Falls by Alex Hirsch

Twelve year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are off to spend the summer with their gruff Great Uncle (‘Grunkle’) Stan who runs the tacky tourist trap, ‘Mystery Shack.’ The kids uncover mysterious surprises, unsurpassed silliness, and supernatural shenanigans lurking around every corner of the deceptively sleepy little town.

This is a fun series for younger fans of things that go bump in the night, and you just can’t go wrong with shenanigans!

Supernatural

This television series got its start in the folklore and myths that created all of the really great campfire tales. The main characters, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, seek out and fight supernatural forces in an attempt to find their mysteriously missing father and the person or force responsible for their mother’s death. In the process, you’ll meet recognizable characters, some of whom have already appeared on this list, such as the Phantom Traveler and the Wendigo.

These are just a few of the spooky stories we have at the library, so don’t worry horror fans, you won’t run out!

Maybe you’ve got some other favourite tales that you like to share with friends. If so, leave a comment below, I’d love to know what they are!

Happy reading,

Megan

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Letting Go

Summer is finally on its way! As I write this the trees outside are greening up and we’ve finally gotten around to packing away the last of the winter wear.  This time of year is also when many of us start thinking about how we can tidy up and lighten up our living spaces.  We got a bit of a start recently at our house as we swept a winter’s worth of dust out of the gazebo and I at least began to think about finally going through the couple hundred old CDs that still take up space in our living room.

The spring and summer months are also a great time to start on projects, whether those be around the house, in the yard or even tuning up a car. For great websites, information and book suggestions for all those topics and more, check out our DIY Home, Garden & Auto Repair Info Guide.

Need some inspiration to kickstart your decluttering? We’ve got you covered there too.

The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi

 

 

Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time by Erin Rooney Doland

 

 

Pretty and Organized: Clutter-free with 30 Easy-to-Make Decorative Storage Ideas for Every Room in Your Home by Jane Hughes

 

 

Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking, Discover New Habits, Free Your Home by Joshua Becker

 

 

And, of course, titles from the most recent Queen of Decluttering – Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.

Need even more inspiration?  Find dozens more titles here.

Monique

Black History Month

February is a great month! Not only is it a sign that winter is–slowly–coming to an end as the days lengthen again, it’s also the month of Valentine’s Day (half-priced candy, anyone?), I Love to Read Month, and Black History Month.

To help you combine the last two, here’s a short sampling of excellent contemporary fiction in all genres by black authors from all over the world. (Authors with a Canadian connection are distinguished with a *.) To see much more of what’s available, come check out the themed display at Millennium Library; or, if you prefer ebooks/audiobooks, take a look at our complementary OverDrive collection.

Danielle


Chris Abani
Before he can retire, Las Vegas detective Salazar is determined to solve a recent spate of murders. When he encounters a pair of conjoined twins with a container of blood near their car, he’s sure he has apprehended the killers, and enlists the help of Dr. Sunil Singh, a South African transplant who specializes in the study of psychopaths. Suspenseful through the last page, The Secret History of Las Vegas is Abani’s most accomplished work to date, with his trademark visionary prose and a striking compassion for the inner lives of outsiders.

Chinua Achebe
These three internationally acclaimed classic novels comprise what has come to be known as Achebe’s “African Trilogy.” Beginning with the best-selling Things Fall Apart, the African Trilogy captures a society caught between its traditional roots and the demands of a rapidly changing world. In these masterful novels, Achebe brilliantly sets universal tales of personal and moral struggle in the context of the tragic drama of colonization.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart Nigeria. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

* André Alexis
A thief with elegant tastes is recruited by an aging heroin addict whose wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides one clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. She enlists the thief to steal the objects from her siblings and help her solve the puzzle. Inspired by a reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, The Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honourable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.

Octavia E. Butler
The complete Patternist series—the acclaimed science fiction epic of a world transformed by a secret race of telepaths and their devastating rise to power. In these four novels, award-winning author Octavia E. Butler tells the classic story that began her legendary career: a mythic tale of the transformation of civilization.

Stephen L. Carter
Back Channel is a brilliant amalgam of fact and fiction–a suspenseful retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the fate of the world rests unexpectedly on the shoulders of a young college student: Margo Jensen, one of the few black women at Cornell. As the clock ticks toward World War III, Margo undertakes her harrowing journey. Pursued by the hawks on both sides, protected by nothing but her own ingenuity and courage, Margo is drawn ever more deeply into the crossfire–and into her own family’s hidden past.

* Austin Clarke
In this collection, award-winning author Austin Clarke has caught, in his characters, a sweet longing for youth and an anxiety-stricken rage at old age; an immigrant’s longing for a placid, lost home and his lust for a new high-speed motorcar life; and an intellectual’s sense of empowerment by black history even as he watches what little he knows about such history engulf him. These are intense and private lives made public by the force of their individual voices.

* George Elliott Clarke
Carl Black is an intellectual and artist, a traveller, a reader and an unapologetic womanizer. He burns for the bohemian life, but is trapped in a railway porter’s prosaic—at times humiliating—existence. Taking place over one dramatic year in Halifax, The Motorcyclist vividly recounts Carl’s travels and romantic exploits as he tours the backroads of the east coast and the bedrooms of a series of beautiful women.

* Esi Edugyan
A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black. Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero’s fate. An entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

Yaa Gyasi
A riveting debut novel, Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem. Half sisters Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonist and raise”half-caste” children; Esi will be shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.

N. K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends…for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

* Lawrence Hill
Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita’s ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches—until Keita is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family’s survival.

* Nalo Hopkinson
Nalo Hopkinson is an internationally-beloved storyteller. Her Afro-Caribbean, Canadian, and American influences shine in truly unique stories that are filled with striking imagery, unlikely beauty, and delightful strangeness. In this long-awaited collection, Hopkinson continues to expand the boundaries of culture and imagination, creating bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders.

Karen Lord
Karen Lord’s science fiction combines star-spanning plots, deeply felt characters, and incisive social commentary. In The Galaxy Game, Lord presents a gripping adventure that showcases her dazzling imagination as never before. On the verge of adulthood, Rafi attends the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Rafi’s mental abilities might benefit people . . . or control them. Some wish to help Rafi wield his powers responsibly; others see him as a threat to be contained. Now he and his friends are about to experience a moment of violent change as seething tensions between rival star-faring civilizations come to a head.

Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley’s indelible detective Easy Rawlins is back, with his life in transition. He’s ready–finally–to propose to his girlfriend and start a life together. And he’s started a new detective agency. But, inevitably, a case gets in the way. Between his new company, a whole raft of new bad guys on his tail, and a bad odor that surrounds Charcoal Joe, Easy has his hands full, his horizons askew, and his life in shambles around his feet.

Helen Oyeyemi
An enchanting and thought-provoking collection of intertwined stories. Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret–Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side.

Lalita Tademy
Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money–but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward? Cow Tom’s legacy lives on in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose, who rises to leadership of the family. Through it all, her grandfather’s indelible mark of courage inspires her–in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies.

Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood–where even greater pain awaits. When a recent arrival from Virginia tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we share.

Fun for the Holidays

The Holidays are a time when friends and family are in close quarters. Much of that time is joyous, full of fun and spent in front of the TV watching any number of Christmas specials. We are never far removed from Jimmy Stewart, Chevy Chase, George C. Scott, Billy Bob Thorton or Little Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun.

However, film and TV are relatively new additions to the Holiday season. A century ago, no one owned a TV and movies were silent. How did people pass the time? The answer, of course, is games. Board games, card games, word games and many others were played for fun.

The Victorian era (1837-1901) which gave us Christmas cards, A Christmas Carol and Christmas Crackers also had games like Up Jenkins, Similes and Throwing the Smile. Up Jenkins was played with 8 or more players divided into two teams. Teams would sit across from each other and one team was given a coin. The team with the coin would pass or pretend to pass it among themselves until the opposing team shouted Up Jenkins! At which point the team with the coin would raise their hands above the table with fists closed. The opposing team would then say Down Jenkins! The team with the coin would then place their hands on the table palms down. The other team would then get one chance to guess which player on the opposing team had the coin.

Similes could be played with as few as two people but more is better. Each player would take a turn telling the other player or players a simile. Here are some examples of similes:

tight as a drum
green as the grass
brave as a lion
strong as an ox.

Players would keep telling similes until someone couldn’t think of one and then that person would be out. Eventually you would be left with a winner.
Those are games from Christmas past. If you’re looking to play games in Christmas present here are some books that can help:

The Complete Book of Card Games

card-games

This how-to book offers a large variety of card games along with rules and instructions about how to play.  You’ll see Poker and Cribbage as well a few games not often played.  In addition to learning how to play, you’ll also get a short history on the evolution of the game.

Hoyle’s Rules of Games: Descriptions of Indoor Games of Skill and Chance, with Advice on Skillful Play: Based on the Foundations Laid Down by Edmund Hoyle, 1672-1769

hoyles

If you’ve ever wondered “how do I play Egyptian Ratscrew?” this book is for you. Providing rules and strategies for card and board games, you’ll find fun from Scrabble to Eleusis. The book also helpfully separates games geared for adults versus those more suited for children.

Family Fun Night

family-fun-night

Check out this book to create an “unplugged” family fun night that appeals to children too! With twists on timeless classics to brand new games, this book provides ideas for indoor and outdoor fun. Plus, it suggests snacks and meals that complement each family night theme.

The Oxford History of Board Games

oxford-games

My list of books would not be complete without a history of board games. David Parlett dives into the rich and interesting history of board games from around the world and from different time periods. His book offers some tips on strategies but focuses primarily on the development and cultural aspects of the games.

These books offer some great ways to stay entertained over the holidays. And there is one more twist you can throw into your gaming that can be a lot of fun. Today most games end with a player or players being “out” or being “it”. However, in ages past many games didn’t end this way. Players would perform a forfeit. Here are some examples:

  • A player has to stand on a chair and assume the form or shape of an object or animal the group chooses.
  • Make at least three other people smile.
  • Tell a joke.
  • Mime something and make the other players guess what it is you are doing.

Try these or create your own forfeits to add a different twist to your games!

While the holiday season is a great time to break out the games, it isn’t the only time you can enjoy them. Come to the library and enjoy “Tabletop Games Day”.  Different branches host this games day event at different times of the year.  Come and enjoy an oversized game of Chess, Checkers, or Snakes and Ladders.  You can also have fun with some regular-sized games like Clue, Scrabble or Cribbage.  Check the most current “At the Library” for times and locations.

Happy Holidays!

Andrew

‘Tis the season to be reading!

Thanks to Mother Nature, it’s finally feeling pretty Christmassy outside. Inside the library, we’ve got you covered for seasonal romance and mystery. I’ve spent the past few months ordering all sorts of Christmas goodies for our readers, including stories with ho-ho-hot rogues, magical mistletoe, paranormal presents, and cozy Christmas sleuths. The current offerings provide something for every taste, so get comfy under a blanket (or mistletoe!), pour yourself a cup of something hot (alcoholic or not!), and check out the books below.

Making Spirits Bright by Fern Michaelsmaking-spirits-bright

This swoon-worthy collection of novellas hits the holiday sweet spot. In the title story, singleton Melanie McLaughlin dreams of adopting far more than she frets about her empty love life, but everything comes together when she’s offered two children orphaned by a terrible car crash and twinkle-eyed Bryce Landry steals her heart along with his offer to give the kids “the best Christmas ever.” Elizabeth Bass cooks up a tear-jerker in “Runaway Christmas” as spunky Texas teen Erica, trying to get back on track after her mother’s death, decides to spend Christmas with a family friend in Brooklyn. Rosalind Noonan’s “Home for Christmas,” a tale of a single mother falling for a wounded soldier returning from Afghanistan, is sure to tug the heartstrings. Nan Rossiter’s “Christmas on Cape Cod” delivers a dog-lover’s dream.

Fields Where They Lay by Timonthy Hallinan fields-where-they-lay
It’s three days until Christmas and Junior Bender, Hollywood’s fast-talking fixer for the felonious, is up to his ears in shopping mall Santas, Russian mobsters, desperate holiday shoppers, and (’tis the season) murder, in this sixth entry in the Junior Bender Holiday Mystery series (after King Maybe). The halls are decked, the deck is stacked, and here comes that jolly old elf. Junior Bender, divorced father of one and burglar extraordinaire, finds himself stuck inside the Edgerton Mall, and not just as a last-minute shopper (though he is that too). Edgerton isn’t exactly the epicenter of holiday cheer, despite its two Santas, canned Christmas music, chintzy bows, and festive lights. The mall is a fossil of an industry in decline; many of its stores are closed, and to make matters worse, there is a rampant shoplifting problem. The murderous Russian mobster who owns the place has decided it takes a thief to catch a thief and hires Junior–under threat–to solve the shoplifting problem for him. But Junior’s surveillance operation doesn’t go well: as Christmas Eve approaches, two people are dead and it’s obvious that shoplifting is the least of the mall’s problems. To prevent further deaths, possibly including his own, Junior must confront his dread of Christmas–both present and past.

 

christmas-brideA Christmas Bride by Hope Ramsay

‘Tis the season in Shenandoah Falls and the first time Willow Peterson has been home in years. But she’s determined to fulfill the wishes of her recently deceased best friend and restore Eagle Hill Manor to its former glory–all in time to host the perfect holiday wedding. She just has to get the owner of the historic inn to hire her. Unfortunately, that means dealing with Scrooge himself.
After the death of his wife, David Lyndon has a bah-humbug approach to Christmas. But as December counts down and the wedding planning is in full swing, it’s harder and harder to stay immune to the charms of Willow, especially when he sees how much joy she brings his eight-year-old daughter. After a simple kiss under the mistletoe turns into something more, David is hoping he can turn the magic of the holiday season into the love of a lifetime.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelttwelve-dogs-of-christmas

Martha “Pups” Boyer, who’s at the center of Edgar-finalist Rosenfelt’s entertaining 15th legal thriller featuring Patterson, N.J., attorney Andy Carpenter (after Outfoxed), earned her nickname for her efforts to take in stray puppies that the local animal shelter can’t handle and find them permanent homes. Near the holidays, Pups’s new neighbor, Randy Hennessey, reports her for keeping more than the legal limit of animals. Andy, a long-time friend of Pups, figures that puppies and Christmas are key words that will ensure that the case is dismissed. He’s right. But when Randy turns up dead, Pups is arrested for his murder. The evidence is stacked against her, but Andy refuses to believe Pups guilty. On the other hand, Andy and his team discover some alarming discrepancies when they dig through the assets of the wealthy Pups and her late husband.

 

holiday-temptationHoliday Temptation by Donna Hill, Farrah Rochon, and K.M. Jackson

Three unlikely couples heat up the pages in this sensual trio of holiday. An aspiring playwright and a barista who is more than he seems learn to trust their hearts in Hill’s passionate “A Gift of Love”; a chance meeting in Istanbul’s spice market turns into something more for a Christmas-phobic photographer and techie craft brewer when the fates and the weather get into the act in Farrah Rochon’s affecting “Holiday Spice”; and a hard-driving real estate mogul hires a health-conscious chef to improve his diet and lifestyle during a business trip aboard his yacht and gets more than he bargained for in K.M. Jackson’s pert “From Here to Serenity.”

 

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delanywe-wish-you-a-murderous-christmas

In Delany’s second book in the Year-Round Christmas Mystery series (after Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen), Merry Wilkinson is content with life in Rudolph, NY, where she runs a Christmas shop. The town has reinvented itself as a holiday-themed tourist destination full of indie businesses. So when the owner of the Yuletide Inn lands in the hospital following a heart attack, and his son, Gord, swoops in to convert the inn into a franchise of a budget hotel chain and sell land to a big-box store, the community is in an uproar. They’re almost relieved when Gord is murdered, until their resident Santa, Merry’s father, is questioned. Now Merry will have to find the real killer before her dad ends up in jail and the holiday is ruined.

it-must-be-christmasIt Must Be Christmas by Jennifer Crusie, Donna Alward, and Mandy Baxter

Three novellas with a delightful assortment of settings sweep readers off their feet with stories that highlight a variety of holiday experiences. A university librarian and a professor of Chinese lit (with a secret agenda) trade barbs and kisses as they spend Christmas Eve searching for an elusive action figure for a five-year-old in Crusie’s nonstop chuckler “Hot Toy”; a small-town doctor and an ex-Navy SEAL dad are thrown together when they find a newborn in the Christmas crèche in Donna Alward’s insightful “Christmas at Seashell Cottage”; and a wealthy rancher who wants nothing to do with his late father’s money finds romance with the founder of a sports-related charity for at-risk kids in Mandy Baxter’s steamy “Christmas with the Billionaire Rancher.” Library Journal states: “spirited, refreshing, and brimming with holiday joy, this diverse trilogy delivers both sexy and sweet, providing a little something for everyone.”

The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney and otherslast-chance-christmas-ball

Eight romance authors (collectively known as the Word Wenches) walk into a Regency-era ballroom and wreak fabulous, shimmering holiday mischief all over the place. The Dowager Countess of Holbourne is hosting an extravagant Christmas ball, and the guest list includes some of the loveliest, loneliest people in high society. Publisher’s Weekly states: “The best of the stories woven around this premise are Joanna Bourne’s ‘My True Love Hath My Heart,’ in which a little larceny spices a long-smoldering romance; Susan King’s ‘A Scottish Carol,’ wherein snowbound lovers never quite make it to the ball; and a maiden’s romantic rescue from a young ladies’ seminary in Anne Gracie’s ‘Mistletoe Kisses.’ The characters are smart and attractive-so much so that it can be hard to believe the ball is their only chance to find love-and their stories are delicious and appealing.”

our-first-christmasOur First Christmas by Lisa Jackson, Mary Burton, Mary Carter, and Cathy Lamb

Join four of the most favorite romance authors for tales of Christmas romance to remember forever.   In Lisa Jackson’s “Under the Mistletoe,” Megan Johnson’s marriage is over—or so she thinks. When her husband Chris lands in the hospital, she remembers the unexpected joy of their first Christmas together. The holidays bring painful memories for history professor Marisa Thompson in Mary Burton’s “A Ranger for Christmas.” But agreeing to help Texas Ranger Lucas Cooper solve a case presents her with more than a distraction. In Mary Carter’s “A Southern Christmas,” reporter Danielle Bright is heading home to write about Christmas down south—and possibly win back her ex. But Sawyer, the sexy photographer, is determined to jingle her bells. Family is where you go after quitting your job, but Laurel Kelly isn’t prepared for the changes at home in Montana—or the fact that her high school boyfriend now owns the family land in “A Ranger for Christmas” by Mary Burton.

Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisledeck-the-hallways

Contractor Shannon Hammer is back in Carlisle’s fourth “Fixer-Upper” mystery, an entertaining Christmas cozy. Shannon’s latest project is overseeing the remodeling of an old Victorian mansion into apartments for families in need. Since the bank donated the foreclosed house to the Holiday Homebuilders, company representative Mr. Potter is sent to keep an eye on the progress. However, he manages to harass and fight with several of the workers, including Shannon’s dad, then ends up murdered, leaving a long list of suspects. Hoping to keep her father off the list of potential killers and get the renovation back on track, Shannon does some amateur sleuthing.

trouble-with-mistletoeThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Fans of Shalvis’s Sweet Little Lies will surely want to pick up her second Heartbreaker Bay contemporary, which is also very accessible to new readers. The series’s cuddliness factor is amped up to 11 with redheaded Willa Davis and her San Francisco pet store, South Bark Mutt Shop. Willa’s single and happy that way; she gets her daily dose of love from half a dozen eight-week-old golden retriever pups and the other lost animal souls she tends. Then handsome Keane Winters, a man from her past, shows up with Petunia, a Siamese cat he’s nicknamed Pita because she’s a pain in the ass. Pita is his great-aunt’s pet, and he needs all the cat counseling he can get, but Willa, Christmas spirit notwithstanding, would just as soon he seek it elsewhere. Willa’s a gem, Keane’s a hunk-tool belt and all-and the two spar as only Shalvis’s characters can, fighting a losing battle against the powers of mutual attraction and the holiday season.

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morganmiracle-on-5th-avenue

As a surprise, Eva Jordan agrees to decorate for Christmas the apartment of the grandson of one of her events and concierge company’s oldest clients (even preparing frozen meals) and finds crime writer Lucas Blade lurking in the dark instead of in Vermont where he is supposed to be working. Recently widowed Lucas has hit a massive writer’s block and is hiding out at home. He certainly doesn’t want an effervescent, captivating, Christmas-loving woman disturbing his peace-although it’s exactly what he needs. A cynical novelist who doesn’t believe in love and an optimistic chef who thinks it’s more important than all else set the pages alight in a compelling romance that tempers the serious issues of loneliness, grief, and fear of commitment with the salutary joy of the season.

-Barbara

Our gift to readers

In our annual contribution to the season, Winnipeg Public Library staff have put our heads together to come up with a list of our favourite reads of 2016. Some of these books were published this year, some are older titles that we discovered recently; all of them come highly recommended.

Want to see how our previous choices stack up? Check out WPL’s staff picks for 2015 and 2014. And if that’s not enough for you, here’s an ever-growing annual compilation of hundreds of 2016 “best of” lists.

Fiction we loved

Brian chose The Lamentations of Zeno by Ilija Trojanow, a “sparse but deeply affecting novel” that takes the reader to the Antarctic through the eyes of an aging glaciologist turned cruise ship guide.

Carolyn has read Dexter Palmer’s Version Control twice and will probably read it again, finding it enjoyable from multiple angles: “intriguing time-travel plot, satisfying existential questions, and some almost understandable hard science.”

revenantAccording to Chris, The Revenant by Michael Punke (inspiration for the recent movie of the same name) grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go until the final shot.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was Derek‘s favourite book–“a vivid, brilliant exploration of the devastating effects of war on the lives of two individuals.”

Jane says that Rules for a Knight (written in the form of a letter to his children by author and actor Ethan Hawke) provides a compass for living an upright and noble life and is “a perfect gem to slip into anyone’s stocking.”

Kim loves Zoe Whittall’s books and couldn’t put down her latest, The Best Kind of People, about a family’s experience of going from the “perfect family” to being ostracized by almost everyone in their hometown.

heartEvery Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire answered a question Melanie has had since she was a little girl: what happens to children who fall through portals to fantasy worlds after they return home?

Monica chose Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest for its dysfunctional, relatable family and New York setting.

breakMonique calls local writer Katherena Vermette’s first novel The Break “a story of family and community connections, trauma, and so much love… will leave anyone who reads it wanting more.”

 

Non-fiction of all kinds

Christian Bök’s poetry collection The Xenotext is “Ovid neo-structuralist hard-science futurism with bees” or, as Aaron puts it, “kinda weird.”

Elke considered Animal Factory by David Kirby “non fiction that reads like a thriller–a story about how the hunger for cheap meat and dairy has become a threat to the environment and public health.”

Franca enjoyed the wry sense of humour in Allen Kurzweil’s Whipping Boy, and how Kurzweil’s initial curiosity about what became of the schoolmate who bullied him turned into a decades-long search bordering on obsession.

According to Hugh, Capturing Hill 70: Canada’s Forgotten Battle is “a must for anyone with the slightest interest in Canada’s role in the First World War”, covering the key details of this lesser-known battle in which thousands of Manitoban soldiers fought.

lonelyJacqui says The Lonely City by Olivia Laing is “a thought-provoking blend of art history and memoir” that looks at loneliness in visual art, and how that feeling can be exposed by art as well as eased.

Julianna was inspired to reread the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic memoir Maus by Art Spiegelman after the recent Anne Frank exhibit at Millennium Library, calling it “especially potent given today’s hyperbolic and fearful rhetoric.”

Although The Book of Tea was written in 1906, Larisa found that Kakuzo Okakura’s thoughts on serious social issues associated with modernization, globalization, and the preservation of culture remain extremely topical today.

Melissa remembers Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley as “a hilarious delusional read… a beautiful fairy tale that inspires hope.” (Sarcasm, perhaps?)

twoNadine appreciated The House with the Broken Two by Myrl Coulter, a very personal story of giving up her child by a woman who grew up in Winnipeg and became pregnant in 1967 out of wedlock.

 

 

For young(ish) readers

Brianna R. Shrum’s YA novel Never Never was Katherine‘s choice: a retelling of the story of Peter Pan in which James Hook follows Pan to Neverland, only to realize there’s no way back to London…

Lauren picked the YA graphic novel series Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson (and a host of talented artists) as “a sassy, clever, girl-powered adventure that can genuinely be enjoyed by all ages.”

applesApples and Robins by Lucie Felix is a charming and magical picture book using shapes to show an apple tree through the four seasons of the year. Lori says it will “make you smile and think of spring even in the midst of winter.”

Madeleine‘s favourite book this year was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a YA title set during WWII which tells the amazing and heart-wrenching story of a friendship between two young women, a spy and a transport pilot.

And Wendy chose Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier, “a thrilling adventure story complete with unlikely heroes, duplicitous villains, and magical tomes that can tell you things about yourself that even you didn’t know.”

Here’s to many more great new reads in the New Year!

Danielle

Top Spooky Picks of 2016

“I could make you scared, if you want me to.” The Tragically Hip

Halloween is just around the corner, so maybe you’re in the mood for something a little creepy or spooky to curl up with this evening?

Here are some of the most popular HORROR novels published in 2016.

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

disappearance-devils-rock1

You know you’ve made it as a horror novelist when Stephen King says your book “scared the living hell” out of him. Even though this book’s title sounds like it belongs in the Hardy Boys series, it is a dark tale about the disappearance of 13 year old Tommy Sanderson and the ensuing search to find him. Steeped in the history and lore of New England, this book would satisfy those of us who binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix over the summer and tide us over until season 2 of that series is released.

the-fireman[1]The Fireman by Joe Hill

I already wrote a separate blog post about this great thriller back in June, so I won’t say too much more here. If a post-apocalyptic world resulting from an epidemic of spontaneous combustion is your thing, I highly recommend this read. Also, it’s written by Stephen King’s son, who is rapidly emerging as a force of nature in his own right.

 

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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This is the English language debut of the best-selling Dutch novelist, Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Here’s the premise: a picturesque town in the Hudson Valley, Black Spring, is ACTUALLY HAUNTED by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman who has her eyes and mouth sewn shut. The witch moves among the townspeople, and has become almost accepted as a part of life there. The power of the hex is that no one is ever allowed to leave the town, and legend has it if the stitches are ever cut open, everyone in the town will die. The town elders have quarantined the town to prevent the spread of the hex, but some teens are starting to question the legend. It’s a great mix of the supernatural intermingled with every day small town life.

End of Watch by Stephen King

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Okay, so technically this one isn’t a HORROR novel, but it’s Stephen King so I felt like I should include it. It’s actually the third book in a trilogy with retired police detective Bill Hodges, so if I were you I’d go back and read the first two, Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, before tackling this one. And yes, elements of the supernatural weave their way into this third book so I feel okay recommending it.

Happy reading and Happy Halloween, everybody!

Trevor

GO WILD Final Week – GRAB BAG WEEK

This summer, the Library is challenging you to expand your reading horizons! Hunt down titles to meet the challenge of your choice, chat with staff for help, browse our displays, or check out the picks below.

For every week you try something new, enter our prize draws at any WPL branch!

Week 6 (our LAST week) is Grab Bag Week, so who knows what you’ll end up trying:

  • Challenge 16: A book with a year in the title
  • Challenge 17: A book starring a dog or cat
  • Challenge 18: A book with ‘Secret’ in the title

*All of the picks below can be requested for pickup at your closest branch! Search and place holds with our catalog.

Staff picks for Challenge 16: A book with a year in the title

1776 by David McCullough

The intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence.

1215: The Year of the Magna Carta by Danny Danzinger and John Gillingham

An absorbing portrait of life during a time of global upheaval, at the center of which is the document that has become the root of modern freedom: the Magna Carta.

1491-cover1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C Mann

A work of science, history, and archaeology that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

1984 by George Orwell

The great modern classic of a “negative utopia,” a haunting novel of a completely convincing imaginary world.

1920: The Year of the Six Presidents by David Pietrusza

The presidential election of 1920, when six once-and-future presidents hoped to end up in the White House: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Theodore Roosevelt.

1942 by Robert Conroy

An alternate history that reimagines December 7, 1941 as a fictional Japanese invasion of Hawaii and the subsequent tale of resistance, sacrifice, and courage.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

The classic science fiction novel that changed the way people looked at the stars–and themselves.

Staff picks for Challenge 17: A book starring a dog or cat

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

A DOG’S PURPOSE by W. Bruce Cameron

One endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. Touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

FIFTEEN DOGS by Andre Alexis

Gods Apollo and Hermes grant human intelligence and consciousness to fifteen dogs who wrestle with the challenges that arise as the result of their elevated thinking.

GRUMPY CAT: A Grumpy Book by Grumpy Cat

Celebrating the Internet sensation’s epic feline frown, and the grouch in everyone, with new photos, grump-inspiring activities and games.

catsI COULD PEE ON THIS, AND OTHER POEMS BY CATS by Francesco Marciuliano

A collection of humorous poems delves into the cat psyche, covering such topics as separation anxiety, scratching at closed doors, and trips to the veterinarian.

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CAT IS PLOTTING TO KILL YOU by Matthew Inman

Cat comics, facts and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at TheOatmeal.com.

WE3 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

A genetically-altered dog, cat, and rabbit turned into military killing machines have escaped and are desperate to survive with the U.S. army on their trail. Complex, violent, and emotional content–The Incredible Journey for mature readers.

Staff picks for Challenge 18: A book with ‘Secret’ in the title

IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler

The experiences of Secret Service agents who served during the administrations of such presidents as JFK, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? by Sophie Kinsella

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world. Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane.

THE SECRET KEEPER by Kate Morton

Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking murder that throughout the subsequent half century shapes her beliefs, her acting career, and the lives of three strangers from vastly different backgrounds.

DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD by Rebecca Wells

When Siddi inadvertently reveals too much about her Southern childhood in a newspaper interview, her mother, Vivi, virtually disowns her. Vivi’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Ya’s, set in motion a plan to bring the mother and daughter back together.

secrets-of-eden-hires.jpgSECRETS OF EDEN by Chris Bohjalian

Haunted by the final words of a newly baptized congregation member who was subsequently murdered by her husband, the Reverend Stephen Drew abandons his pulpit to spend time with an author who writes best-selling books about angels.

THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The gardens surrounding her forlorn new home are Mary’s only escape. When she discovers a hidden, locked door, two unexpected companions help her find a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

So that concludes our Summer Reading Challenge. Make sure you get your ballots in! The prize draw will be held on August 22.

GO WILD Week 5: Voices Week

This summer, the Library is challenging you to expand your reading horizons! Hunt down titles to meet the challenge of your choice, chat with staff for help, browse our displays, or check out the picks below.

For every week you try something new, enter our prize draws at any WPL branch!

Week 5 is Voices Week, so prepare to hear from a new point of view.

  • Challenge 13: A book written for teens
  • Challenge 14: A graphic novel
  • Challenge 15: A book on LGBTTQ* issues

*All of the picks below can be requested for pickup at your closest branch! Search and place holds with our catalog.

Staff picks for Challenge 13: A book written for teens

CRANK by Ellen Hopkins

Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter, but she meets a boy who introduces her to drugs and becomes a very different person, struggling to control her life and her mind.

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp

The principal of Opportunity High School in Alabama has just finished her speech welcoming the students to a new semester, when they discover that the auditorium doors will not open. Someone starts shooting, and four teens, each with a personal reason to fear the shooter, tell the tale from separate perspectives.

TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaipotra

Three students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet academy compete for the status of prima ballerina, each willing to sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab their way to the top.

thief.jpgTHE BOOK THIEF Markus Zusak

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution

UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld

In a world where mandatory cosmetic surgery is performed on everyone when they turn sixteen, Shay escapes to join a band of outsiders avoiding surgery, and Tally is forced to find her and turn her in.

Staff picks for Challenge 14: A graphic novel

THE EXILE: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon

Retells in graphic novel format the first Outlander novel from Jamie Fraser’s point of view, revealing events never seen in the original story.

beardTHE GIGANTIC BEARD THAT WAS EVIL by Stephen Collins

The fastidious life of clean-shaven Dave is upended on a fateful day when he grows an unstoppable, impressive beard, in a darkly comic, award-winning meditation on life, death and what it means to be different.

BLACK HOLE by Charles Burns

Seattle teenagers of the 1970s are suddenly faced with a devastating, disfiguring, and incurable plague that spreads only through sexual contact.

CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT? by Roz Chast

A loving celebration of the final years of the author’s aging (and quirky) parents through cartoons, family photos, and documents.

MARCH by John Lewis

A first-hand account of the author’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement.

HABIBI by Craig Thompson

Follows the relationship between two refugee child slaves, Dodola and Zam, who are thrown together by circumstance and who struggle to make a place for themselves in a world fueled by fear and vice.

Staff picks for Challenge 15: A book on LGBTTQ* issues

BECOMING NICOLE: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the right to be different.

missMISSISSIPPI SISSY by Kevin Sessums

A celebrity journalist chronicles his bullying behaviors throughout his Southern youth, his friendships with such figures as Eudora Welty, and the impact of journalist Frank Hain’s murder on his career.

I’M SPECIAL: AND OTHER LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Ryan O’Connell

Part-memoir, part-manifesto from a super popular web writer chronicles the coming of age story of a gay man with cerebral palsy in an all-wired, overeducated, and underemployed world.

ANNABEL by Kathleen Winter

Born a boy and a girl but raised as a boy, Wayne or “Annabel” struggles with his identity growing up in a small Canadian town and seeks freedom by moving to the city.

FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

An unusual memoir done in graphic novel format offers a darkly funny family portrait of her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family’s Victorian home, funeral home director, high-school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

One night, when Clementine goes with her friend to a gay bar, she becomes captivated by Emma, a punkish girl with blue hair. This event leads Clementine to discover and explore new aspects of herself.

 

 

Only one week left to jump in. What challenges have you tried?

 

 

 

 

Long summer days, hot summer nights

There’s a reason summer is constantly immortalized in books, songs, movies and memories. With the sun shining through the branches of trees swaying in the wind while happy little clouds a la Bob Ross float on by overhead, every magical moment seems full of possibility. Being able to walk out the door without being weighed down by winter woolens doesn’t hurt either. However, summer is a limited time offer, so here are some ideas to help you make the most of it!

Get Outside and Explore

It isn’t always easy to get in touch with your wild side, but if you’re thinking about getting lost while finding yourself in the great outdoors, check out the titles below for places to go, things to do, and tasty treats to keep you fueled up for the adventures ahead.

wild

The down and dirty guide to camping with kids : how to plan memorable family adventures & connect kids to nature

Manitoba wild : scenic secrets of Manitoba

Camping activity book for families : the kid-tested guide to fun in the outdoors

Handy dad in the great outdoors : more than 30 super-cool projects and activities for dads and kids

The new trailside cookbook : 100 delicious recipes for the camp chef

The great outdoors cookbook : adventures in cooking under the open sky

Don’t you worry if the forecast is looking a little gloomy. We’ve got you covered on rainy days as well! Stay inside and get cozy watching one of our streaming movies or TV shows on hoopla, or catch up on your TBR (To Be Read) pile (check out our newest titles here). Rainy days are also a great time to try a DIY!

sticky

Sticky fingers : DIY duct tape projects

The quick & easy home DIY manual

I spy DIY style : find fashion you love and do it yourself

Mason jar crafts : DIY projects for adorable and rustic decor, clever storage, inventive lighting and much, much more

High-tech DIY projects with 3D printing tree

Tree craft : 35 rustic wood projects that bring the outdoors in

 

Whatever you decide to do with your summer, have fun and stay safe! Remember your sunscreen and your water bottle, and when you’re really feeling the heat, don’t forget that you can come to any of Winnipeg Public Library’s twenty branches to cool off in our air conditioned buildings and find a few inspirational books of your own!

Megan