Full Disclosure, by Beverley McLachlin (2018)

Mystery
Adult
Full Disclosure, by Beverley McLachlinLast week I reviewed a book by a librarian and teacher turned author; this week it’s a lawyer/judge turned author! Another Canadian novel, this one is a mystery by Beverley McLachlin, who recently stepped down as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, featuring young defence lawyer Jilly Truitt. Once a foster kid who teetered on a life on the streets, Jilly graduated law school and now heads a small but aggressive firm in Vancouver where she owns a condo,  drives a Mercedes, and regularly spends weekends with her longtime boyfriend Mike St John. She fights hard for underdog clients, knowing she could easily be in their shoes, had she not gotten a couple of breaks. Read More »

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Krista Kim-bap, by Angela Ahn (2018)

Contemporary Fiction
9-13
Krista Kim-bap, by Angela AhnLibrarians and writers often share the same circles, but it might surprise you to learn how many writers ARE librarians. Lewis Carroll, Sarah Ellis, Kit Pearson, Bill Richardson, Beverly Cleary, to name just a few. And now Angela Ahn joins this fine group. As she and I went to library school together at UBC, I was both delighted and secretly a bit apprehensive when her publisher, Second Story Press, agreed to provide me with a digital copy for review. What if I don’t like it? But I’m happy to report this is a truly enjoyable story that celebrates culture, friendship, and family. Krista Kim is almost 12 years old and lives with her Korean-Canadian mum, dad, and sister Tori in Vancouver. Read More »

Forward, by Lisa Maas (2018)

Fiction
Adult
Forward, by Lisa MaasThis raw and touching story of grief, loss and apprehension finds the perfect home in the graphic novel format. Rayanne and Ali, forty-something lesbians living in Victoria, are both alone and determined to keep it that way. Rayanne is still hurting from a bad relationship that ended, not of her choice, several years ago. She has crushes and fantasies, sure, but she ignores them, creating a brittle shell around her heart, despite the well-meaning but exhausting efforts of those around her to find her a mate. (What IS it about happy couples?) Ali is still deeply grieving the loss of her wife Liv to cancer, not quite a year ago, and is confused and slightly ashamed to find herself attracted to a young dog-walker. Read More »

Next Year, for Sure, by Zoey Leigh Peterson (2017)

Contemporary Fiction
Adult
Next Year, for Sure, by Zoey Leigh PetersonAfter nine years in a monogamous relationship that has others calling them the perfect couple, Chris and Kathryn challenge societal norms when Chris decides to act upon an attraction to Emily, with Kathryn’s encouragement. This is the story of that exploration into polyamory, and it’s not a linear path. Family and friends are horrified and upset, acquaintances judge them, feelings are soon hurt, rules are established and broken. This debut novel by Peterson raises a myriad of questions for the reader to ponder as we witness the changing relationship between Chris and Kathryn. What is love, what is a crush, and what does it mean to love? Is it possible to love two people, to be in love with both of them, at the same time? Read More »

Things To Do When It’s Raining, by Marissa Stapley (2018)

Fiction
Adult
Things to Do When It's Raining, by Marissa StapleySomeone once said the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead. But a secret held by one person can still burst out if that person is developing dementia. Thus we learn Lilly’s secret early on, and unfortunately for her, so does her husband George. He moves out, despite 60 years of marriage, into a local hotel. There he runs into Jonah, the alcoholic father, now sober and dying, of Gabriel, the boy George and Lilly took in 20 years ago. They were already raising their granddaughter Mae, whose parents died in a tragic accident when Mae was six. The two children are bestest pals, a friendship that germinates into young love, until one day Gabriel leaves abruptly, breaking Mae’s heart. Read More »

The Funeral, by Matt James (2018)

Children’s Fiction
3-8
The Funeral, by Matt JamesThis is the first of two children’s picture books dealing with death I’m reviewing today. Matt James is the Canadian illustrator who so beautifully created images to accompany the words of the Stan Rogers ballad, Northwest Passage, for a picture book that I reviewed several years ago now. (He won a Governor-General’s Award for that one!) This is his first foray into both writing and illustrating a children’s picture book, and he does it brilliantly. Funerals are difficult for children, both conceptually and emotionally, so I was expecting images of frowning and shushing grown-ups. But James captures the conflicting emotions perfectly – Norah really is sad that her Great-Uncle Frank is dead, and practises her “sad face,” but she is secretly happy to have a day off school. Read More »

Wolves of Winter, by Tyrell Johnson (2018)

Dystopian Fiction
Adult
The Wolves of Winter, by Tyrell Johnson“Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.” When a nuclear war and flu pandemic ravage the world they once knew, Lynn McBride and her small family find refuge in the Yukon Territory. Seven years have passed since Lynn’s father died of the flu and her Uncle Jeryl convinced his sister-in-law to trek from Alaska to the Yukon’s Blackstone Valley. Isolated from whatever remains of the world, the small band of survivors builds cabins and grows a meagre lot of vegetables in springs that never turn to summers. Days are spent gathering firewood and melting snow for water. In a nod to Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games, Lynn is a skilled hunter, setting traplines and using her crossbow to feed the family. Read More »