Vessel, by Lisa A. Nichols (2019)

Science Fiction | Adult

Vessel, by Lisa A. Nichols (2019)

Science fiction meets domestic drama in this terrific debut novel that sees astronaut Catherine Wells return from a mission to an exoplanet via a wormhole, three years late and missing her entire crew. Worst of all, she can’t remember visiting the planet or what happened to the crew. And back on Earth, the blackouts are still happening and she hasn’t told anyone. At home, things are little better. Catherine has been gone nine years; her mum’s dementia has deepened, her middle school daughter is about to graduate, and her husband has found a new love. The family does its best to try to bring Catherine back into the home, and in fact, she’s the one who can’t seem to adjust.

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My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing (2019)

Mystery | Adult

My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing (2019)

I never watched Dexter, but I bet fans of that show will love this. Our protagonist and narrator Ted is married to a beautiful redhead named Millicent. They have been married 15 years and have two children, and well, life is kinda boring and predictable. Except the book opens with the reveal that Millicent is responsible for the murder of a young woman whose body has just been discovered shortly after she was killed. That’s another surprise – Millicent was supposed to have killed her months ago, according to a careful plan she and Ted concocted that really livened up their boring existence. Yup, they are husband and wife killers, though we quickly learn each is keeping secrets from the other. No honour among thieves or murderers, evidently.

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All the Winters After, by SerĂ© Prince Halverson (2016)

Fiction | Adult

All the Winters After, by Seré Prince Halverson (2018)

This is a really tricky novel to classify – it’s a bit of a thriller, a romance, a family saga, and in some ways a mystery. Most importantly, though, it’s set in Alaska. Kachemak Winkel finds himself home again 20 years after he left, a young man deeply mourning his mother, father and brother when they were all killed in a plane crash. He is called home by his Aunt Snag, his father’s sister, who tells Kache (pronounced catch) that his grandmother has not long to live. While there, he goes to the family homestead, expecting to find the place in ruins as no one has even visited since he left. Instead, he finds it exactly as he left it, except for the Russian woman who is living in the house.

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How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There), by Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz (2019)

Nonfiction
16-19

How to College: What to Know Before You Go (And When You're There), by Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Hope Schwartz

If your teen is planning post-secondary education this fall, buy this book right now. What a great resource for a young adult who is eager, nervous, terrified or super-confident about this exciting new stage in life! I worked in student services at The University of British Columbia for nearly 10 years, and this book, written by two professors who have worked with thousands of first-year students, perfectly encapsulates what new students need to know. First, it’s different from high school in so many ways! Learn how to approach a prof in a professional way. Get a planner and use it. Make and stick to a budget. Make sure you know how to do your laundry, clean your room, and book a medical appointment. Join a club and make some friends.

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Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen, illustrated by Roz Chast (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult

Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen, illustrated by Roz Chast (2018)

It’s graduation season at colleges and universities, so here’s a suggestion for a new grad in your life. A wee book (it’s just 43 pages, about $20 in hardcover), it is a good one to pair with the Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go, or if you can find it, H. Jackson Brown’s Life’s Little Instruction Book. This offers a gloomier perspective, and comes with couple of f-bombs along with lots of dark humour. Essentially, the message is that the world is going to hell, and you’ll find greater happiness (worth pursuing) by keeping your expectations low. Hiaasen, one of the few great writers for both kids and adults, begins by tearing apart the usual platitudes found in commencement speeches.

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This Fallen Prey (Rockton #3), by Kelley Armstrong (2018)

Mystery
Adult

This Fallen Prey, by Kelley Armstrong (2018)

Kelley Armstrong is a well-known Canadian author, with a strong backlist in young adult and science fiction. I’ve read her before, but not lately, so when I spotted this on our library’s new book shelf, I picked it up and added it to a growing pile. Turns out it’s the third book in series I have not read. I think it would be best to start with book 1, but in summary, Casey Butler is a deputy in a tiny off-the-grid settlement in the Yukon, where its residents come to stay to escape some kind of threat in the real world. Some of them are there willingly, and others not. She’s in a relationship with Eric Dalton, who is her boss, the town’s sheriff. Both are about 30 years old. The book opens in mid-May when a plane lands and delivers an unexpected “package” – an accused serial killer “sentenced” to stay there instead of facing the law, thanks to a hefty payoff by his stepdad.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018)

Contemporary Fiction
Adult

My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Sisters Korebe and Ayoola could not be more different. Korebe is a responsible nurse, level-headed and thoughtful. The younger Ayoola is beautiful, impulsive, and obsessed with her standing in social media. She’s also a sociopath. When Ayoola calls her sister for help in the middle of the night, Korebe knows what to do – bring gloves and bleach. This is the third boyfriend in a row who has died at Ayoola’s hands, but family comes first for Korebe. Until Ayoola’s next boyfriend is someone Korebe has deep feelings for. Now what? Dark humour abounds in this little novel, about 225 pages, set in modern-day Nigeria. I was reminded of Patrick deWitt’s brilliant The Sisters Brothers – it’s that kind of tongue-in-cheek scenario that will have you laughing when you should be horrified.

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