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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Heartbreaker, by Claudia Dey (2018)

Historical
Mystery
Heartbreaker, by Claudia DeyPony Darlene Fontaine is 15 years old, and today she watches her mother come out of the bedroom, clad only in a tracksuit, and walk out the front door without a word. Stopping to call her dog, she climbs into the truck and drives off. Billie Jean hasn’t been out of the house for three months. It’s now late October, 1985, and she is barefoot. Where has Billie Jean gone? Why did she leave? Why has she been hiding herself away these past months? Why has she told Pony so little of her story? Read More »

The Lost for Words Bookshop, by Stephanie Butland (2017, 2018)

Contemporary Fiction
Adult
Lost for Words Bookshop, by Stephanie ButlandDon’t be fooled by the cover – this is not a lightweight romance about love in a bookstore. Loveday Cardew is a damaged young woman who absolutely prefers books to people. So much so that she has meaningful first lines of several books tattooed on her body. Whether she’s speaking to a customer or to the reader, she is knowledgeable, blunt and sometimes sarcastic, socially awkward, and very funny. But there is nothing funny about what brought her to this place. Read More »

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware (2018)

Mystery
Adult
The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth WareThis new mystery from British writer Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood) is a lot of fun from start to finish. I keep thinking it’s like a grown-up Nancy Drew mystery (in a good way!), with a more realistic and nicely flawed heroine caught in a web of deceit and murder. Hal Westaway is 21, living alone in Brighton three years after her mother was brutally killed by a hit and run driver. With no income and few options, she picks up her mum’s tarot cards and continues her business on the pier. Read More »