Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, by Markus Motum (2017, 2018)

Nonfiction | Ages 5-11

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, by Markus Motum (2018)

Imagine this – a rocket takes off from Earth, and after months of travelling in space, a descent module uses jets to hover over another PLANET and a little rover gently lands, wheels down. I love the story of the Mars rovers! We’ve now sent four, and two are still exploring the planet. Opportunity is still going strong after 15 years – wow! – and Curiosity landed in 2012. I’ve been following them for years, enjoying the “selfies” as well as the amazing landscape photos as well as geology data these little robot explorers are sending back to Earth.

Read More »
Advertisements

Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

Historical Fiction
Adult

Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

How amazing that a single dangling literary thread can lead to this lovely creation. There is a line in Anne of Green Gables in which Marilla refers to Gilbert Blythe’s father as a good friend, perhaps even her one-time beau. From that mysterious remark, Sarah McCoy has created an entire backstory for Marilla and Matthew before Anne, and it is a spellbinding story indeed. I’m a lifelong Anne fan, of course, having fallen under her spell more than 40 years ago. I have read the novels several times, and as I get older I enjoy them ever more, from Anne the spunky tween who first arrives on the Island to the mature woman of Ingleside, still blessed with a sense of humour, along with a heart full of both love and sorrow. But back to this creation.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2015)

Nonfiction
16-Adult
We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi AchichieBonus review in honour of International Women’s Day! This is a wee printed book numbering fewer than 50 pages. The text is based on a Tedx talk given by the author in the U.K. several years ago, in 2012, and was published in print in 2015. It is a call to action for citizens of all genders and all countries, to actively stand up against gender discrimination. Adichie draws on her personal experiences growing up in Nigeria, and the experiences of American women she has come to know as a part-time resident of the U.S., to show how gender discrimination is all to common, continuing to impact women all around the world. She makes the case that ignoring the small injustices normalizes gender discrimination. Read More »

The Clockmaker’s Daughter, by Kate Morton (2018)

Historical Mystery
Adult

The Clockmaker's Daughter, by Kate Morton

Here’s another genre-blending blockbuster from Kate Morton, author of The Lake House and The Forgotten Garden, among others. It’s an historical mystery, a gothic ghost story, and a family saga. Best of all it features an archivist! Londoner Elodie Winslow is in her early 30s, engaged to be married though fed up with the wedding preparations and planning expected by her future mother-in-law. She seizes the opportunity for distraction when she discovers an uncatalogued box of items, including a sketch of a beautiful woman and another of riverside house that seems hauntingly familiar. It turns out to be Birchwood Manor, where a young group of Victorian-era artists spent a month in July 1862, a stay that ended with one woman dead and another missing, the theft of a priceless diamond, and a promising artist’s life is ruined.

Read More »

The House of One Thousand Eyes, by Michelle Barker (2018)

Historical Fiction
15-18

Set in East Berlin in 1983, this is an historically accurate depiction of life behind the Berlin Wall. Lena Altmann is 17 years old. She lives with her Auntie, a staunch Party member, in a nice apartment where there is even a telephone (though Lena has never heard it ring). Lena is grateful to her strict Auntie for taking her in after a brief but brutal stay in a psychiatric hospital due to her deep grief over suddenly losing her parents in a factory accident. Auntie even got her a job cleaning the Stasi headquarters. Sundays are the best day of the week for Lena, as she gets to visit her beloved Uncle Erich. He is a writer who teaches her about subtexts, the “other  story” that lets him publish books that are secretly critical of the government.

Read More »