Tag Archives: Danielle @ WPL

Spring fiction

Spring has sprung and the new fiction shelves are blooming with a heavy crop of new novels. Here are a few to get you started, or you can view the full list of New Titles for the last 3 months in our online catalogue.

In dog we trust
by Beth Kendrick
When Jocelyn Hilliard is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry and never expected to be living the pampered life in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges.

The bird king
by G. Willow Wilson
Fatima is a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain. Her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker, has a secret: he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as threatening sorcery. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

Queen Bee
by Dorothea Benton Frank
Beekeeper Holly McNee Kensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivan’s Island. Her mother, The Queen Bee, is a demanding hypochondriac; to escape the drama, Holly’s sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly’s escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father. When Leslie returns to the island, their mother ups her game in an uproarious and theatrical downward spiral. A classic Lowcountry Tale–warm, wise, and hilarious.

by Mona Awad
A darkly funny, seductively strange novel about a lonely graduate student drawn into a clique of rich girls who seem to move and speak as one. Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more different from the other members of her master’s program at an elite university. A self-conscious scholarship student, she is repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny.” But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation from the Bunnies and finds herself drawn as if by magic to their front door. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into Bunny world, the edges of reality begin to blur.

The snakes
by Sadie Jones
Driving through France, recently married Bea and Dan visit Bea’s brother at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. When her parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to meet them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming and rich. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping… Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.

The elephant of surprise
by Joe Lansdale
Hap and Leonard are an unlikely pair–Hap, a self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough-as-nails black gay Vietnam vet–but they’re the closest friend either of them has in the world. Amidst the worst flood East Texas has seen in years, they save a young woman from a mob hit, only to find themselves confronted by an adversary who challenges their friendship.

The paper wasp
by Lauren Acampora
Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, Abby Graven now works as a supermarket cashier. Each day she’s taunted by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet. When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she’s surprised and touched that Elise still considers her a friend. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise’s world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends–until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.


Hé ho!

As you may have heard, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Festival du voyageur! This annual winter celebration of Franco-manitobain language and culture starts today – Friday, February 15 – and this year, the Winnipeg Public Library is taking part for four days (February 16, 17, 18 and 23).

You’ll find our bibliothèque éphémère (pop-up library) in the Forest Tent at Voyageur Park complete with a station de bricolage (craft station), and heures du conte (story times).

Plus all the usual Festival fun will be going on, of course, from pancake breakfasts to fiddling contests, dogsled rides, and snow sculptures. Bon festival!

And if you can’t make it out to join us, here are a few titles appropriate for Festival and Louis Riel Day…

Canoeing the Churchill: a practical guide to the historic voyageur highway

Louis Riel and the creation of modern Canada


Louis Riel: a comic strip biography

Making the voyageur world / Les voyageurs et leur monde

My first Métis lobstick

My true and complete adventures as a wannabe voyageur

Festival du voyageur HEHO!


Our best of the year

‘Tis the season for lists: shopping lists, gift lists, and most of all–“best of the year” lists.

Librarians love lists as much as anyone, so in our own contribution to the madness, Winnipeg Public Library staff have put together our annual list of favourite reads. Many of these titles are brand new; some are a bit older; but all are available at WPL and well worth a look.

If you’re interested in catching up on previous years, here are our picks for 2017 and 2016. Need more lists? Be sure to check out Largehearted Boy’s ongoing compilation list of lists.


Aaron‘s top book of the year was The Mount by Carol Emshwiller, the story of a budding friendship between a boy and an alien during a time of revolution – “think The Horse and his Boy meets The Fox and the Hound.”

Aileen was truly scared “in the best way possible” by The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp, which is a nail-biter and even a comedy at times thanks to the unreliable narrator.

Brian chose Sinclair Lewis’ semi-satirical polemic It Can’t Happen Here, written during the Great Depression and the rise of populist Louisiana politician Huey Long, which has been called the novel that predicted Donald Trump.

Cyrus picked The Man of Steel for Brian Michael Bendis’ story, great for people new to Superman but with plenty of fresh elements for long time fans, and its beautiful visuals from some of the best artists in superhero comics.

David recommends the Christmas-themed Mutts and Mistletoe by Natalie Cox: it’s quirky, it’s romantic, and most importantly it’s set in a Devonshire dog kennel with lots of adorable pups.

Derek says that Miriam Toews’ new novel, Women Talking, is masterfully told, with deft humour and keen insight.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was Jennifer‘s “absolute favourite” of the year.

Kira became slightly obsessed with Octavia E. Butler this year, and chose her duology Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

Like Circe herself, Madeline Miller’s novel enchanted Rémi with its poetic style and absorbing story drawn from Greek mythology.

Toby enjoyed The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, an ambitious, exceptionally written novel that deals with the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s and its present-day repercussions.


Elke says that Why We Sleep by Matthew P. Walker tells you everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about sleep, packing two decades of sleep research results into one book.

Ian picked At Home in the World, a collection of reminiscences from the Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh which is inspirational, fun, thought-provoking, and timeless.

Josie Appleton’s Officious: Rise of the Busybody State made Jacob re-think the existing purpose behind state regulations.

For Kelly, reading Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming was time well spent. An honest take on striving for work/family balance and finding her own voice while still supporting her husband’s vision.

Kim‘s selection I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya is a short book full of stories of Shraya’s experience as someone who doesn’t fit into society’s gender norms.

Larisa suggests comparing your own understanding of happiness with all those smart minds’ views which Frédéric Lenoir has collected in Happiness: a Philosopher’s Guide.

Laura found She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer a completely fascinating study of genetics and inheritance, from the extraordinarily problematic history of eugenics to modern biotech advances like CRISPR and much more.

Melissa chose Ceremonial Magic, a book on magical traditions by Israel Regardie, a brilliant occultist who was once Aleister Crowley’s private secretary.

For young readers

Andrea recommends The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress for Lemony Snicket fans. A light read full of twists and turns, it all starts with a pig in a teeny hat…

Colette selected Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (a companion book to the Seraphina series) for its great female character, beautiful language, and strong world-building.

Jordan enjoyed the whole Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, especially the first book Cinder, which features a handsome prince, evil step mother and two step-sisters… oh, and Cinderella is a cyborg.

Katherine picked Tara Sim’s Timekeeper, in which Danny is meant to fix the clocks that control time around London, not help the spirits within them–even when one of them falls in love with him.

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones cracked Lori’s heart by illuminating the soul crushing choices so many Indigenous youth have to make… but it also mended it with beautiful and touching love scenes.

Madeleine loved the incorporation of a podcast into the narrative of Sadie by Courtney Summers, which made her think critically about our desire to hear true crime stories that are often about violence being done to women.

Sydney thinks that Dragons Love Tacos will entertain adults as well as children with its beautiful illustrations, absurdity, and attention to detail. Plus it’s also available in French translation!


Bite-sized reads

Listen, I love epic novels as much as the next bookworm. But sometimes, your life is moving just a little too fast and you don’t have the uninterrupted chunks of free time required to sink into an extended reading experience.

At times like that, short bursts of fiction are the perfect solution. These brief but concentrated novels and story collections (the longest of which barely breaks 200 pages) combine unusual narratives with vibrant language to make every moment you can steal to read count.

The transmigration of bodies by Yuri Herrera is a noirish tragedy with a Romeo and Juliet backstory. Two feuding  crime families with blood on their hands ask a hard-boiled hero to broker peace and arrange for the exchange of the bodies they hold hostage.


Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett focuses on the mundane details of the narrator’s daily experience (from the best way to eat porridge to an encounter with cows) in striking scenes “suffused with the hypersaturated, almost synesthetic intensity of the physical world that we remember from childhood.”

The subtitle of The people in the castle by Joan Aiken is “selected strange stories,” which is a pretty apt description. From dreamlike fairy tales to ghost stories and surreal fantasia, these are indeed very strange stories—but always grounded in characters who feel like absolutely real people.


Things we lost in the fire by Mariana Enriquez brings contemporary Argentina to vibrant life as a place where past military dictatorship and legions of desaparecidos loom large in the collective memory. But alongside the disturbing disappearances, her stories are fueled by compassion for the frightened and the lost.

Moon of the crusted snow by Waubgeshig Rice begins as cell phone service goes out in an isolated Anishinaabe community in northern Ontario. Soon land lines, electricity, and satellites have all disappeared and the community must band together and return to traditional ways to ensure its survival in a post-apocalyptic world.



Scary stories to read in the dark

It’s October and cold, dark days with dreary skies have arrived…  you know what that means—the countdown to Hallowe’en has officially begun.

Short stories are one of the best ways to experience the thrill of horror fiction. Like the bite-size chocolate bars in our trick or treat bags, they deliver just the right amount of delightfully tasty fright.

If you’re new to short, terrifying fiction, start with the classics: Edwardian Englishman M.R. James and mid-century American Shirley Jackson couldn’t be more different in style or tone, but they’re both experts at grounding uncanny weirdness in the ordinary and mundane world.


If you like Shirley Jackson but haven’t tried Kelly Link yet, what are you waiting for? Magic for Beginners is a great place to start if you haven’t gotten the chance to sample her whimsical but deeply unsettling prose before.


Everyone knows Stephen King for his doorstopper-thick horror novels like The Shining and It. But I find his short stories even more frightening as they leave more unspoken, like shadows hovering in the corner of your eye. Whether you choose one of his more recent collections, like Everything’s Eventual and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, or an earlier selection like Skeleton Crew, you’re sure to sleep with a light on that night.

Not surprisingly, King’s son Joe Hill is a master storyteller as well; check out 20th Century Ghosts for a selection of his early work.

Editor Ellen Datlow discovers and collects some of the best short horror. You won’t go wrong checking out any of the anthologies she’s put together, but my favourites are two excellent collections of modern ghost stories: The Dark and Hauntings.

Are you looking over your shoulder yet?


Which way the wind is blowing

India is drowning, western Canada is burning… it’s starting to feel a little bit like a disaster movie out here.

Climate change and its effects have been on my mind this summer and not just because of the heat here in Winnipeg. On a family vacation earlier this year, we visited New Orleans for the first time and also stayed in a small beachfront Mississippi town that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I always like to read about places I travel, so I’ve been seeking out books about New Orleans; unsurprisingly, several of them cover the storm and its aftermath.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink is a gripping, harrowing read that takes you inside Memorial Hospital in New Orleans as the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and its exhausted staff desperately tried to keep things under control. Fink discusses just how ill-prepared we are for large-scale disasters, and writes revealingly about human nature in crisis.

The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley (a New Orleans resident and professor of history at Tulane University) tells the story of Katrina from every angle. He covers how and why both the local and federal infrastructure was so ill-prepared for the storm everyone knew was coming, and shows how hard it struck not only the city, but the surrounding Gulf Coast.

If fiction is more your style, check out the titles below. Some of them are speculative fiction that extrapolates what a world riven by more destructive climate forces might look like; others are literary works that show the impact of this slow-moving disaster on ordinary people today.

New York 2140
The waters rose, submerging New York City–every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island–but the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been, though changed forever.


Cli-fi: Canadian tales of climate change
These stories of climate fiction (“cli-fi”) feature perspectives by diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works.

Loosed upon the world
An anthology of twenty-six short stories exploring the future of climate change and its effects on life on Earth that includes contributions from Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Kim Stanley Robinson.

South Pole station
Cooper Gosling is adrift at thirty, unmoored by a family tragedy and floundering in her career as a painter. So she applies to the National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Program and flees to Antarctica — the bottom of the Earth — where she encounters a group of misfits motivated by desires as ambiguous as her own.

The floating world
When a fragile young woman refuses to leave New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, her parents are forced to go without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and their daughter catatonic, the victim or perpetrator of some unknown violent act.


A book club meeting in a bag

I belong to a book club of friends that meets once a month. Members come and go, but the core group has been around for more than 20 years now (!). We’ve chosen books by almost any theme you can think of—prize-winning books, books in translation, genres, books from a certain country or continent—but one thing we love taking advantage of is the convenience of Book Club Kits from the library. You can’t beat getting 10 copies in a bag, plus a Readers’ Guide prepared by library staff.

There are a vast range of titles to choose among in the collection, from recent bestsellers (The Break) to perennial classics (Things Fall Apart) to more offbeat choices such as graphic novels (Fun Home) and non-fiction accounts (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).

Our adult Book Club Kit collection is one of the most popular here at WPL. We add a few new titles each year, trying to ensure that each one chosen will engage a wide variety of readers and offers a good “hook” or scope for lively discussion.

The Readers’ Guide for each title includes additional material such as discussion questions, reviews, and related books you might enjoy. (Can’t borrow a kit, but still want to get a copy of the Readers’ Guide? Just ask library staff!)

There are also French-language titles; Juvenile and Young Adult books; and Adult Basic Education kits as well.

So if it’s your turn to pick the book, find a title that interests you in our online catalogue, or drop in to Reader Services at Millennium Library for a discussion of which kits are available and what might work best for your club.


The most wonderful time of the year (for readers)

The end of the year really is a wonderful time for people who love to read!

There are more annual “best of” lists than you can shake a (very large) stick at, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Each year, I ask Winnipeg Public Library staff to name the book which made the biggest impression on them in the last twelve months, and each year I’m enthralled by the variety of titles they send me.

If you’d like to see more staff picks, take a look at our previous lists from 2016 and 2015. Still not satisfied? Check out the Largehearted Boy blog’s list of many, many more year-end book lists.

Fiction of all genres

Derek chose The Wonder by Emma Donoghue because it’s richly told, exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding care and sickness.

Erica enjoyed Robin Sloan’s endearing books, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough for delving into seemingly small things that can nonetheless elicit great passion (aka geeking out), whether that be books, computers, baking, cheese, or riddles.

Joanne “raced” through The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker, the post-apocalyptic story of an unlikely hero who sets out on a 500 mile run through the devastated countryside, desperate to be reunited with his family before it’s too late.

Lori sums up the reasons Mira Grant’s Rolling in the Deep became a top read for her in two words: “Killer. Mermaids.”

Madeleine loved Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver for the heroine’s gradual realizations about the way she has treated other people as she relives one day in her life over and over.

Mauri says The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg is a “sweet (but not sappy) story about love, hope, second chances, and the small acts of kindness that can turn friends into family.”

Ann Patchett is one of Toby‘s favourite authors and her writing just seems to get better and better; Commonwealth, the story of two families over five decades, is insightful and beautiful and brilliant.

It took Rémi over 17 years to discover Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books, but this year he finally read Storm Front, the first in the series, which is “a great mix of a detective thriller and a fantasy that’s gritty, witty and just plain fun.”

All varieties of non-fiction

Aileen found that Michael de Adder’s You Might Be From Canada If… brought back memories from childhood as well as, surprisingly, tears to her eyes.

Although The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee can be difficult to read at times, Alan highly recommends it to anyone who has been touched by this pernicious disease.

Brittany found Susannah Cahalan’s memoir Brain on Fire does an excellent job of reconstructing the author’s ‘month of madness’ while suffering from a very rare disease in which the brain attacks itself.

Bryan chose The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, a “disturbing but also entertaining” tour through the planet’s turbulent history of mass extinctions.

Chris enjoyed Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork, which shows the evolution of all of our cooking ‘gadgets’ and educates the reader in a fun way on how things have truly changed over the last 2000 years.

What struck Darragh about Kelle Hampton’s Bloom (a brutally honest and emotionally provoking memoir by a mother whose second daughter was born with Down Syndrome) was the power of perspective.

Elke picked Following Atticus by Tom Ryan: the story of a dog and a man who, as friends and equals, conquer both mountains and life’s challenges.

And We Go On [ebook only] by Will Bird was Hugh‘s choice – a memoir of trench warfare on the Western Front that is not for the faint of heart.

Lauren found the collected letters in Letters of Note (edited by Shaun Usher) hilarious to heartbreaking, but every one was a beautiful and authentic piece of writing.

Mary-Ann chose Will Ferguson’s Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, a collection of fun, entertaining, and educational pieces about interesting places across Canada.

According to Melissa, Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina, a member of ‘Pussy Riot’ the Russian collective famous for their political activism, captures the emotional process of being jailed and successfully advocating for change in the Russian penal system.

Randy says of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen: “This little book is an inspirational powerhouse with its simple, but profound ideology.”

Waiting For First Light, Romeo Dallaire’s powerful first person narrative about dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brings the experience to life and helped Steve to understand what trauma can do to a person.

For younger readers

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi was Andrea‘s most memorable book of 2017. The tale of two boys who become connected by a line, it is a story of friendship, struggle and forgiveness–told without a single word.

Jacquie chose the beautiful picture book The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo, as a great book to share with a child to gently introduce topics of mindfulness and appreciation of silence and stillness in our busy, noisy lives.

Lori thought that she knew a fair amount about Van Gogh, but Deborah Heiligman’s YA biography Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers provided some surprising and touching insights about his life, his art, and his premature death.

Terri couldn’t put down Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – a funny, touching read that tells the story of Riley, a teenager who is coming to terms with what it means to be gender fluid.

And a special mention to Larisa, who published a book of her own this year! Since she had to read it more than 365 times, it definitely became her top read. Berries: 210 Thoughts and Photographs on Life, Love and Light is a book-meditation intended to be the reader’s silent friend, with laconic language and stunning black-and-white photographs.

Happy holidays, and may you never run out of great books to read in 2018!

– Danielle

Welcome to the new Writer-in-Residence

This week, Jennifer Still started her term as the 28th (wow!) Writer-in-Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library. You may already have met her, if you came to check out her collaborative reading & art piece at the Millennium Library for Nuit Blanche this past Saturday.

Jennifer is an award-winning Winnipeg poet who has served as a mentor to many emerging writers as the Writer-in-Residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture and at The University of Winnipeg. She’s also an editor for Canada’s longest running poetry journal, CV2.

Writers of all genres and all experience levels are welcome to submit manuscripts to Jennifer for review and feedback. See our website for more information about how to submit your writing.

I asked Jennifer to name a few of her favourite inspiring titles, and she responded with this list of “beautiful and brave books that give me courage, insight and endlessly spark my imagination”:


Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke – a slim correspondence between Rilke and a young poet, essential reading for anyone curious about the pursuit of writing

Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle – wildly imaginative and poetic lectures on writing, some only three lines long!

Killdeer by Phil Hall – a sharp, tender, insightful poem-essay of the poet’s journey with his craft

Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings – the first published reproductions of Dickinson’s handwritten “envelope” writings.

~ Danielle

Canadian SF & fantasy

This weekend is not only Victoria Day, traditionally the first long weekend of the summer, but also the 34th Keycon–Manitoba’s annual science fiction & fantasy convention.

This year their Guest of Honour is Canadian author Kelley Armstrong. She’s written more than forty books: fantasy, thrillers, and horror for teen and adult readers. WPL is pleased to host her at an author talk at 2 pm today (Friday, May 19) in the Carol Shields Auditorium on the 2nd floor of Millennium Library. Come say hello to  Kelley and discover more about her fictional worlds!

If you’re interested in checking out Keycon, it takes place at the Radisson Hotel May 19 to 21. For more information on special guests, programming, and more, check out their website.

Thinking about Keycon reminded me how many great science fiction and fantasy authors are Canadian, or have strong ties to this country. Here are just a few of them:

 William Gibson–although he was born in the U.S., he’s lived in Canada since 1967– envisioned the concept of cyberspace before it even existed, in his classic debut novel Neuromancer. His work has gradually evolved into near-future stories about the influence of technology and social media on society, which are often eerily accurate. As he pointed out in 2003, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

 Silvia Moren0-Garcia is a Mexican-Canadian fantasy writer and editor whose books place unsettlingly strange events in down-to-earth settings. In her latest novel, Certain Dark Things, Mexico City is an oasis in a sea of vampires, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay.

Nalo Hopkinson is another international author–born in Jamaica, she splits her time between California and Canada. Her award-winning novel Brown Girl in the Ring is set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto.

And there are many other Canadian SF & fantasy writers to try. If you enjoy military SF, check out Tanya Huff‘s Confederation series about space marines. Guy Gavriel Kay is famous for his historical fantasy; Robert Charles Wilson‘s mind-bending science fiction often plays with timelines; and Robert Sawyer writes fast-paced, classic SF adventure.

Don’t forget one of the quintessential Canadian authors, Margaret Atwood, either! Several of her classic novels–The Handmaid’s Tale, the MaddAddam trilogy–draw heavily on speculative themes and tropes, even if she claims that she doesn’t write science fiction.

On Victoria Day, hopefully the weather will be perfect to sit out in your backyard, at the neighbourhood park, or on the beach, and crack open a refreshing Canadian read.