The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch (2018)

Science Fiction
The Gone World, by Tom SweterlitschFirst, take your time in reading this book. It is not one to rush. It’s to be savoured, taking time to ponder the latest plot twists as you try to figure out what the heck is going on! It’s at heart a mystery set in a science fiction world, not unlike the film Inception. In fact, I predict you’ll be seeing this story on the big screen in a year or two. Shannon Moss is a criminal investigator for the U.S. Navy. It’s 1997, and she’s called into the case of what appears to be a domestic murder involving a Navy SEAL. A wife and two children are dead, and both the eldest daughter and the husband are missing. But what the police don’t know is that the husband is actually an astronaut whose spaceship Libra and its entire crew is missing, lost during a secret trip to the future. Read More »


As You Wish, by Chelsea Sedoti (2018)

As You Wish, by Chelsea SedotiBe careful what you wish for. That’s the lesson Eldon Wilkes is learning as he approaches his 18th birthday, a big event in the isolated town of Madison, Nevada. That’s when you get to make a wish and – it will happen. Oh, sure, there are rules. You can’t wish for more wishes, and you can’t ask for something that will impact the outside world (like world peace, or being a pro NFL player) but the locals are pretty good at finding ways to get what they want. Money is a common request, as is beauty, and happiness. Some wishes are funny – a truck, or a lifetime supply of pot. Others speak to the desperation in some lives – to be loved, or for transcripts good enough to get into Harvard and away the hell from Madison. Read More »

Wolves of Winter, by Tyrell Johnson (2018)

Dystopian Fiction
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 »

Life on Mars, by Jon Agee (2017)

Picture Book
Life on Mars by Jon AgeeI really enjoy Jon Agee’s humour, first discovered while browsing picture books at Vancouver’s beloved Kidsbooks store. The book was called Terrific and I immediately bought a copy for a grandchild and ordered a copy for my library’s storytime collection. It was a stalwart title for elementary school visits to the library, fun to read aloud and giving us a chance to convey great emotional range in a readaloud. This one has less range but is a surefire winner for storytime sessions and lapsharing. An astronaut visits Mars in search of life, and finds a desolate planet devoid of any living thing. Or so he thinks. Children won’t be able to resist pointing out the giant alien our astronaut doesn’t see. Read More »

Once There Was a Way: What If The Beatles Stayed Together? by Bryce Zabel (2017)

Speculative Fiction
Once There Was a Way: What If The Beatles Stayed Together? by Bryce ZabelAlternative histories can be interesting explorations of “what if” scenarios. It’s been more than a dozen years but I still recall the fascination I felt in reading Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America in which a Republican president Charles Lindbergh takes office in 1940 and signs a non-aggression pact with Hitler. So when this book came up in my list of upcoming offerings, I thought I’d give it a try. I have to confess I’m not a particular fan of The Beatles, though I certainly enjoy much of their music. However, I’m too young to remember them performing, and I honestly don’t know very much about their history. Still, this sounded interesting. I soon found myself cursing at the book out of sheer irritation. Read More »

Gwendy’s Button Box, by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (2017)

Gwendy's Button Box, by Stephen King and Richard ChizmarI approach Stephen King with great trepidation. As a teen I devoured Carrie and moved rapidly through his backlist, until Salem’s Lot, which so terrified me I made my younger brother accompany me upstairs at bedtime. No lie. Didn’t touch King again for years! But this one, co-written with his longtime friend Richard Chizmar, looked so intriguing I gave it to my spouse to read. He passed it back, assuring me it was in the vein of King novels I’ve loved like Hearts in Atlantis and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It’s 1974, and we are back in Castle Rock, a favourite King setting. Gwendy is 12, about to enter middle school in the fall. Determined to shed her detested nickname Goodyear, she spends the summer pounding up Suicide Stairs, ignoring the stranger in a hat reading on a bench. Probably a perv, she figures. Read More »

Artemis, by Andy Weir (2017)

Science Fiction
Artemis, by Andy WeirOh how we have been waiting for this book! Weir won international fame for his first novel, The Martian, which (as I, ahem, predicted) then blew us away as a blockbuster movie. Sophomore efforts often pale after such a success, and Weir makes a pretty good effort here. Set in the not-too-distant future, Artemis is a small colony of about 2000 on the moon. Jazz Bashara has lived there for two decades, since she was six years old. A non-practising Muslim, she makes a living as a deliveryperson with a profitable side gig as a small-time smuggler. Despite the constant hussle, her bank balance is dismally low, a problem as she has a debt to pay, and wants a better place to live where she doesn’t have to pad down the hall to a communal bathroom. Read More »