Unreconciled

by Jesse Wente


A must-read.

Wente “argues that ‘reconciliation’ is a flawed concept; peace between First Nations and the state of Canada can’t be recovered through reconciliation because no such relationship ever existed”. Wente’s writing is powerful; he conveys his message clearly, using his experiences growing up as an Indigenous person in Canada.

I would use this book in my classroom, and should be in every school library.

An important author,

an important book,

an important message.

Ghost Wall

By Sarah Moss

This is Silvie’s story.
The novel starts with the tale of ancient Britons sacrificing a young girl to the bog. It doesn’t tell you why but I assume it is because…well, she’s young and a girl (always targets for ritualistic sacrifice).
The rest of the novel is about Silvie. Silvie’s father is a bus driver who is more than consumed with what life was like for the ancient Brits and believes that life was better when people lived off the land and held to strict rituals.
Silvie’s father takes his family to join a group of anthropology students and their professor in recreating what life was like thousands of years ago. While those from the university are participating, for the most part, for the sake of research and academia, Silvie’s father sees his role as an ancient patriarch of his clan far too seriously. Soon Silvie begins to feel as though she, too, will end up in the bog.
This short novel (a mere 130 pages) is written in what I feel is stream of consciousness. Sentence fragments, run-on sentences and the absence of quotation marks all contribute to the chaotic nature of Silvie’s ordeal.
A good book and definitely worth a re-read AND discussion with others.

Unsettled Ground

by Claire Fuller


I can’t remember how I heard of this novel, but I was searching the book list in my notes and looking for it. As soon as I saw the beautiful cover, I knew it would be good (not that one should judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest, we all do to some degree).
The novel starts with the death of Dot. Dot dies suddenly from a stroke, leaving her twins Jeanie and Julius to fend for themselves. Jeanie and Julius, however, should have no problem living without their mother because they are, after all, 51 years old.
Following the death of their mother, the twins discover their mother had been keeping certain truths from them, truths that would lead to evictions, resentments, and potentially murder.
Claire Fuller writes beautifully with every descriptive phrase and piece of dialogue purposefully chosen to tell her story most effectively. I will be reading more of her writing in the future!

Little Eve

By Catriona Ward

Ever read a book that was so enthralling it was difficult to start another because nothing reads as good? This is the problem I’m having after reading Catriona Ward’s Little Eve. Dark, atmospheric and filled with the most fascinating of characters.

Ward weaves together a plot about psychological manipulation and survival. Evelyn or “little Eve”, is an adolescent girl who lives at Altnahara, a castle on an island a small distance from the coast of Scotland. Evelyn’s family is an unusual one. Two women and three other children. The head of the family is a man referred to as “uncle”, or at times, he is terrifyingly referred to as The Adder. When a man from the mainland arrives to deliver meat, he discovers the dead bodies of several inhabitants, each wrapped in white shrouds and missing an eye. All are dead except for 16-year-old Dinah, who accuses the missing Eve of the murders.

The author writes alternating chapters in the voices of both Dinah and Eve. Hence, we, the readers, get a telling of events and consequences that is satisfying at the end.

This is my first encounter with Catriona Ward’s writing, and I am so excited to have found a new favourite author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the free copy.

Long Story Short

by Serena Kaylor

Beatrice is a brilliant 16-year-old who has already been accepted into the university of her dreams; Oxford. The only problem is that Beatrice suffers extreme social anxiety, so much so she has been homeschooled for most of her life. Beatrice has never been to a party. She’s never had a friend; she has never even deviated from a specific weekly dinner menu. Needless to say, her parents aren’t thrilled with her acceptance, so they decide that Beatrice will have to prove to her parents that she is emotionally and mentally ready before they allow her to go. and boy do her parents have the perfect challenge for her, she will have to successfully a program, well actually a summer camp that is completely out of her comfort zone; camp where she will have to interact with others, speak in public, and share personal space…a Shakespearian Theatre camp! And while she is there, she’ll have to fulfil a list of accomplishments her parents create for her:

Make a friend.

Share a secret.

Walk up to someone and make small talk.

Accept an invite she doesn’t want to.

Do an outdoor activity.

Pull a prank.

Execute a dare.

Hug three people.


The dream of attending Oxford is enough to get Beatrice out the door and onto the bus that will take her to camp; however, she soon faces embarrassment and rejection when she tries to cross a task off her list and talk to a stranger who just happens to be the most popular girl at camp; the “Ice Queen”.
I found this novel charming and a wonderful break from popular teenage angst-riddled dystopian literature. It is very well written with endearing characters (I absolutely LOVE Mia and Nolan!) It is a sweet, light-hearted novel that will be the perfect light summer reading fare.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the free copy

What Moves the Dead

by T Kingfisher

What a horrifically beautiful cover!

This was the perfect book to start off my summer. The novel starts with our narrator Alex, who is on their way to visit their dear friends Madeline and Rockrick Usher. Before they even arrive, Alex is mesmerized by the woods in which he travels. Although the lake and trees seem to possess a threatening and ominous air, the mushrooms and all things “fungal” seem to enthral Alex the most. The mushrooms “ grew out of the gaps in the stones of the tarn like a tumour growing from diseased skin [Alex] had the strong urge to step back from them and an even stronger urge to poke them with a stick.” Before they get the opportunity to do so, an older woman Eugenia Potter stops them. Eugenia is one of my favourite characters; eccentric and bold; she paints the various fungus she finds with the ambition of having her own name in the books recognized by the “Mycology Society”.
Second, only to Eugenia Potter, Alex is in themselves a fascinating character. As “Sworn Soldier”, Alex carries the courage they possessed on the battlefield in t the horror that awaits at the Usher’s estate. Alex discovers that their friends Madeline and Roderick have wasted (rotted?) away both physically and mentally.

Can Alex determine the cause of this decline before they too succumb to the madness and death surrounding them?
What moves the Dead, a gothic tale inspired by Edgar Alan Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”, is well crafted with viscerally vivid detail even though it moves at a rapid pace. It is the perfect novel to add to your summer tbr pile.

Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor for the free copy.

Haven by Emma Donoghue

Father Artt had a dream. A dream of an island far off the coast of Ireland where he and two other men will build a monastery. Artt recruits old Cormac and young Train to come with him. Each monk possess skills that will be important for the successful manifestation of Artt’s dream.

Using Skellig Michael as the setting for most of the story, Donoghue weaves a tale filled with external and internal conflict. On top of fighting the elements, tension also arises between the men. But what I found particularly interesting is the inner conflict each man experiences with a crisis of faith towards God and humanity.

This novel isn’t heavy on plot. Instead, it serves as more of a character study. Each of the three main characters are incredibly intriguing however,  Donoghue only gives us glimmers of their backstories making Haven a fascinating read. (I especially love Cormac, I want to know more about his life before his holy vows).

Haven would make for a compelling novel study. Students could learn more about: Elements of allegory, characterization, beautiful detail, and a variety of themes (blind faith, disillusionment, adversity, resiliency, conformity, guilt, environmentalism, just to name a few). 

This novel is both sophisticated yet accessible and rich enough to serve as a class novel study and/or a mentor text. 

Haven will be published August 23. Thank you to NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for the advanced copy.

The Woman in the Library

by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library is a twisted tale of a murder that occurs in no better place than a library. Winifred Kincaid (Freddie), is a writer looking for inspiration in the wonderful setting of the Boston Library. There, she sits at a table in the Reading Room looking for inspiration. She finds said inspiration in the various individuals sitting at her table whom she dubs “Freud Girl” ‘Heroic Chin” and “Handsome Man”. Suddenly, all are startled when a bloodcurdling scream slices through the silence. 

After a quick scan of the library by security and no source of the scream is found, library patrons are allowed to leave. Freddie and those and her table having quickly bonded over the startling experience,, leave  the reading room and go for coffee. 

That evening the evening news declares that that the scream belonged to a murdered woman whose body had been discoverd by the night cleaning crew.

Soon, through a series of weirdly coincidental events, Freddie begins to suspect it may be one of her new found friends. 

Freddie’s storyline alone makes for an intriguing mystery, but the author also embeds another story. Each chapter ends with a letter to “Hannah” signed by “Leo”. In these letters, Leo critiques the plot of the chapter that precedes it. Leo’s correspondence is both helpful and condescending and soon becomes creepily familiar.  

This novel is a well written, intriguing mystery with twists and turns that make it anything but predictable.

Thank you to Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the advanced copy.

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood


I love old fashioned murder mysteries, murder mysteries along the lines of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot or Ms Marple.
The Maslow Murder Club is one such novel. Our protagonist is a charming septarian, Judith, Who loves to skinny dip in the river behind her old mansion. On one such excursion, Judith witnesses the murder of her neighbour. So when the police doubt her story, she takes it upon herself to find out who committed the crime. Not because she was especially close to the victim, but because she loves a good puzzle. In fact, she creates cryptic crosswords for the newspaper. Judith has a way of finding the tiniest details and piecing them together to form a solution. Judith is joined by a free-spirited dog walker named Suzie and a prim and proper vicar’s wife named Becks. These three ladies find themselves in all sorts of predicaments on their way to solve the crime some of them deathly dangerous.
Thorogood’s novel is a sophisticated “whodunnit” that is charming and funny and thoroughly engaging. A great read to put on your summer reading list!

Alone

by Megan E. Freeman

Twelve-year-old Maddie is a normal teenager who just wants to do normal things like having a party at her grandmother’s vacant house without her parents knowing.

Maddie has it all arranged: she will tell her mother she is staying with her father and tell her father she is staying at her mother’s. Having succeeded in this ploy she then buys junk food and awaits the arrival of her two best friends. Unfortunately, her friends cannot come so Maddie spends the night alone with her junk food and old black and white movies. 

Now, everything would be fine and dandy if the political situation hadn’t been precarious. With curfews and military vehicles a common sight, life for Maddie and her family has been different, to say the least. Tragically, the evening Maddie decides to trick her parents and stay at her grandmother’s, the state is evacuated and Maddie is left all alone with nary a human around to help her. Soon the power is cut off and food becomes scarce and Emma is forced to use her imagination and grit to survive both the physical and mental hardship she encounters. 

This novel is written in verse, and in being so adds a wonderfully melancholy tone to the writing. It reads like a stream of consciousness, therefore, making Emma’s experience more emotionally impactful. 

How does Emma spend her days? Will Emma survive? Will her parents ever come to realize she has been left behind?

A great book to have in a classroom library or middle school book club.

Escape from Chernobyl by Andy Marino

Escape from Chernobyl is a fictional account of the Chernobyl disaster, a global incident that most young people know nothing about. 

16-year-old Yuri Formichev is an intern at the Chernobyl power plant in Pripyat Ukraine on the border of what was then the Soviet Union. Yuri’s dream is to be an engineer at the nuclear reactor but in the meantime, he is assigned as a custodian hoping to impress his superiors so that he can work his way up to intern as an engineer. Yuri lives with his Aunt, Uncle, and his two cousins Alina and Lev. 

The story immediately throws us into the action of the story. Yuri has just arrived for his shift at the reactor when he feels a shaking of the walls. Soon the walls crack and other workers are covered by debris. In the meantime a man is knocking at the door of Yuri’s family telling them they must leave the city for their safety. If they leave they will be abandoning Yuri.

Will Yuri survive? Will Alina and Lev escape the radiation that is beginning to permeate the area?

Escape from Chernobyl is a perfect read for reluctant readers. It is short, engaging, and accessible to people of all reading levels.

The Speed of Falling Objects

by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Life hasn’t been easy for Danielle “Danny” Warren. When she was 7, her adventurous father leaves her and her mother to become a famous “Reality Star”. Danny believes her father abandoned her because she suffered a horrible accident and lost her eye, an accident that not only stole her sight but also her courage. When her father invites her on a trip with him to the Amazon to film an episode of his Reality show, Danny believes it would be the perfect time to get to know her father and prove to him that she is not the frightened little girl he left behind. Unfortunately, the plane crashes into the jungle, and Danny not only has to face but she must also come to accept the man her father truly is.

The Speed of Falling Objects is truly an adventure story where the protagonist experiences more than her fair share of peril all the while falling in love for the first time.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

I’m a nerd. I love books. I especially love books about books, libraries, and words. I also gravitate towards feminist literature. Lucky for me, The Dictionary of Lost Words is a wonderful combination of both.
Our protagonist Esme loves words as well, probably because she spends her childhood under the table in the scriptorium where her father works compiling words and definitions for the Oxford English Dictionary. While there, little treasures in the form of words accidentally fall from the table, and she reverently gathers them up and keeps them safe. However, as she gets older, Esme notices that other words are carelessly left and that these words tend to be more relevant to the world of women. So Esme takes it upon herself to collect as many words as she can so that she can build a dictionary that will acknowledge and preserve these words.
I love Esme. She is curious and brave and so, so smart. I love the relationship he has with her father; for a man who works with words, he can find no word appropriate enough to express the love he has for Esme.
I fell into this story immediately. William’s vividly transported me back in history, where I viewed a world from the shoulder of a fictional character whose story was inspired by true events. What a wonderful place to experience history!