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Staff Reviews

Looking for a recommendation? Here's a few words about some of our favourite books. If you would like to see them in person, you'll find them all collected on our Staff Table just inside the front door of our store.
 
Samantha recommends Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother

Jann Arden has put together the most beautiful tribute to her mother with this book. The package itself is gorgeous to hold and the photos s throughout are thoughtful, kind and real. The recipes are an unexpected gift which allows us as readers to be part of her world, her home, her family; what a treasure.

But by far the best part of the book for me is the insight into her family coping with Alzheimer's disease. There are incredible truths and insights page after page. I cried along with her too many times to count. Her pain and guilt and humour are exactly what we would all expect to feel going through this. I have not read another book on this topic that has moved me this much. Jann's determination to ensure her mother's humanity, her humour, doesn't get lost int he story is steadfast throughout the book. She manages to achieve it by giving us the gift of her mother's sly joes and her determination to maintain her independence even at her most vulnerable moments.

If you don't have someone in your life with Alzheimer's or Dementia, this books unflinching look at this family dealing with it every day in every way is something we should read: and if you do have someone in your life, buy some Kleenex before you sit down with this book. By the end, you are going to love Jann Arden more than you already do.

Samantha recommends Benjamine Ludwig's Ginny Moon

Ginny Moon is one of those books that gets a lot of hype from a publisher before it is published. Rarely does such a book live up to the hype.

Ginny Moon is one of the rare ones.

Ginny's voice is so honest and so earnest I immediately fell for her, and I was on team Ginny. I wanted this 14-year-old autistic young woman to be happy in her new adopted home. I wanted her parents to help their family be a whole.

In some ways, this book reminded me of  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Maybe it is because of the obvious similarities in the voice of the protagonist, maybe it is the autism angle, maybe it is the frustration I felt due to some of the communication misfires that happen.

No matter what the reason is, Benjamin Ludwig has written a book that is engaging, heartbreaking, realistic and a true must-read of the year. Take Ginny Moon home with you today; she needs to be loved by you.

Samantha (owner of Bolen Books) recommends Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life

It takes a special reader to consider picking up a book that is as long as this one. Now consider that this book has violence and abuse and torturous scenes in it and the audience for this book becomes even narrower. Still, I urge you to try this book. Yes, it is dark and has subject matter that may be disturbing, but the language and writing and characters in this book are so strong you will end up being grateful it is 720 pages long, because you won’t want it to end. Although the book’s cover flap will tell you that the book is about four friends and their lives and relationships, it is really about Jude. I wish he was real. I feel like I know him and his whole life’s painful story. This book isn’t for everyone but if you think it might be for you, if you are open to reading about a kind of pain you don’t find in books very often, then pick this up, take it home, and turn off your phone. This book is going to take over your life for a little while but it is very much worth it all.


 

Madeline recommends And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer  by Fredrik Backman
 

Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this beautiful novella is a look at an old man's descent into Alzheie=mers disease. As the narrative jumps from one point of view to another; see the grandson, wife, and son interact with 'Grandpa' as he repeats himself and confuses his son for his grandson, desperately trying to share his lasting memories. A great choice for anyone (children included), who knows or has known someone with Dementia. Have tissues ready!

 


Madeline recommends His Bloody Project  by Graeme Macrae Burnet
 

I picked up this book when I heard it was shortlisted for the Man Booker and am I so glad I did.

 

This novel reads like true crime, beginning with 'real' interviews from witnesses of a murder in the 1869 Scottish highlands, and completely fooled me into thinking it had been misfiled. There are court transcripts, psychiatrist statements, even a memoir written by the accused, but this is really a story about class.


His Bloody Project is one of my favourite books, perfect for lovers of historical fiction, mystery or true crime!

Madeline recommends The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This is a story of love, los, friendship, pain, politics, prejudice and religion, yet still managed to make me laugh (and cry).

One of my favorite books of all time.

Madeline recommends Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor's Welcome to Night Vale

Even as a non listener to the podcast on which this book is based, I loved it. It takes place in a small town called Night Vale, where pens are illegal, houses have their own thoughts, and librarians are extremely dangerous.  Though every occurrence in Night Vale is completely nonsensical, I found this story amazingly easy to follow. The writing style is lovely; simple and extremely funny. Reading aloud to my partner we both found ourselves laughing out loud several times. This book is so delightfully different, even if you're not a sci fi lover I would highly recommend it.




 

Colin recommends Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash

Snow Crash is one of the defining novels of the cyberpunk genre and a perfect introduction for the curious. Set in a near future North America, Snow Crash features a memorable cast of characters dealing with a viral outbreak that is equal parts computer based and organic. Sword fighting, virtual reality, brain hacking, and pizza delivery, there is something for every reader in this fast paced classic of Science Fiction.






 

Joanne recommends Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahatin Ali
 

Finally published in English, it's a shame that we've waited almost 70 years to read this exceptional book by bestselling Turkish author Sabahatin Ali.

 

The story begins in the 1930’s of Turkey when work was scarce. The narrator, unemployed and struggling to survive, meets an old friend who arranges a clerking job for him. It is here that he shares an office with Raif Efendi, a frail man who rarely speaks. On his deathbed, Raif gives the narrator a leather-bound notebook. It is this notebook, set in 1920’s Turkey and Germany, that makes up the majority of this brilliant novel. It tells Raif’s hauntingly beautiful story of missed opportunities, a changing world and love lost.

 

Exceptionally well written, mesmerizing and poignant. It is a classic masterpiece that I highly recommend.



Jennifer recommends The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve
 

With all the fires that raged across North America this summer, this book shares a timely theme.

 

Anita Shreve touches upon what happens when disaster strikes a community, a family, and a woman left to rebuild her life while coping with loss.

 

Rebuilding takes time. And out of the ashes surprises come to light in relationships and love.

 

But there is a difference between recovery and healing; things we don't want oi face must ultimately be dealt with because fire burns away everything but the truth.

 

And as the embers cool, what remains is what we take home with us. And what we leave behind.


Jennifer recommends Tribe by Sebastian Junger
 

Sebastian Junger, bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, tells stories with such surgical precision that his writing style could be called “imbedded.” It is reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo journalism.

 

I read Tribe, his latest book, in one sitting. It is a must read for this era, detailing war and the ways of coping with being a soldier, especially modern society’s failure towards them.

 

Junger posits that using the tribal mentality could vastly help them to overcome the challenges they face.



 

Peter recommends The Best American Short Stories 2017  as edited by Meg Wolitzer.
 

For me, one of the most anticipated releases of the Fall season is the Best American Short Stories.

 

The Best American series has been bringing together the finest short story writers from Canada and the US for generations. Every year we are treated to surprising new directions in literature and are invited to explore new developments in craft and style.

 

These stories also show us a window into the mood of the times. The pulse and direction our countries have taken, good and bad, are reflected into these pages. But for allt at, this volume is pure entertainment.

 

Especially now, with tensions rising across the globe, and half-baked megalomaniac world leaders crying havoc, the 2017 Best American Short Stories offers up and escape.

 

As TC Boyle, one of this years contributors, muses, “In the face of horror, what else is left to us but to laugh?”



Catherine recommends The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson
 

Anytime I’m able to try a new Canadian author I jump at the chance and Ferguson will be a new favorite. This book combines great writing and unique subject matter with really clever humor. It’s definitely full of little twists, nothing that knocks socks off but the kind that keeps you saying “just one more chapter” and before you know it, it’s 1:00am.

 

The Shoe on the Roof is an easy but very engaging read and wraps up in a tide bow at the end, if maybe a bit quickly. This is a memorable book, the story and characters in it will stay with me and I will definitely be checking out Ferguson’s other titles!



 



Mitchell recommends Anthony Marra's The Tsar of Love and Techno

When this book was suggested to me, the title and jacket blurb had me genuinely worried. It didn't seem like a book that I would usually be interested in reading. But The Tsar of Love and Techno has ended up being one of the most beautiful and well executed books I have ever had the pleasure of picking up. Rich with metaphors and imagery, complex characters, diverse interactions, and vivid landscapes, this book has thoroughly impressed me. For those who are afraid of short stories, fear not! Each of the segments are connected, Marra has interwoven them so naturally that by the time you finish this book, it will feel like one complete journey. Anthony Marra has written something deeply moving and profound. I will continue to suggest it to anyone I am able to when given the chance.



 

Liam recommends The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood
 

Todd Lockwood has been contributing incredible art to science fiction and fantasy work for decades, and The Summer Dragon shows he has learned a lot from the creative minds he has worked with.

 

Maia’s tale shows us a detailed new world with dragons fully fleshed out and more than just mounts or forces of destruction. As she works towards her goal of a dragon of her own, we discover the politics, the history, and the mysteries around her as she does, growing more aware of the forces at play. I anxiously await the next in the series, Todd Lockwood has earned a guaranteed a spot on both my reading list and my bookshelf.


Liam recommends Pierce Brown's Red Rising

I have read the three big dystopian hit series; I enjoyed them, but also found them to be a little whiny and depressing.  Red Rising is the first of a new trilogy that so far beats those issues and leaves me excitedly looking forward to the sequel. I enjoyed the action, was moved past the sad parts, chuckled at the audacious characters, was surprised by the twists, and devoured the book ... in a day.
 

Liam recommends Brian Mcclellan's Promise of Blood

Brian McClellan has built a great debut in this dark fantasy world. Gunpowder-attuned mages and terrifying wizards; he has blended flintlock firearms with a more traditional fantasy flavour. Dropped straight into the plot with plenty of action, readers who find themselves frustrated at a myriad of viewpoints will appreciate having a select few characters whose actions and storylines intertwine for a focused and exciting tale.
 

Liam recommends Anthony Ryan's Blood Song

Vaelin is a feared prisoner escorted on his way to fight a duel. Bored, he is willing to tell his story to the officer commanding his escort, and imperial historian. Anthony Rya nearly snuck this by me. Blood Song is like a martial focussed  Name of the Wind. Told from the single viewpoint as Vaelin remembers and retells the story from when he was six years old and dropped at the door of the Sixth Order, the warriors of the faith. If you like fantasy with honour, and characters you can actually respect, give this a try. Perfect for people who find Game of Thrones to be a nightmare of characters and viewpoints. Get attached to Vaelin. He's moved straight to my favourite shelf.



 

Nelia recommends Wab Kinew's The Reason You Walk

Why I liked this book- in the words of Wab Kinew speaking about his father...

"More than any inheritance, more than any sacred item, more than any title, the legacy he left behind is this: as on that day in the sundance circle when he lifted me from the depths, he taught us that during our time on earth we ought to love one another, and that when our hearts are broken, we ought to work hard to make them whole again." 

And at this time, in our country, this book is important.




 

Rosarie recommends Judith Schalansky's Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands
 

The subtitle, “Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will” is apt. These islands are remote and for the most part inhospitable -BUT- the book is not. It is quirky and invites us to drop in for a visit to Lonely Island in the Arctic Ocean or Tikopia in the South Pacific. It gives us a glimpse of people and places through stories and journal entries, and leaves us to ponder and wonder and come back later to visit another little known spot in the world.






 



Timothy recommends Ian McAllister's Following the Last Wild Wolves

In Following the Last Wild Wolves Ian McAllister, co-founder of conservation group Pacific Wild, takes us inside British Columbia's pristine Great Bear Rainforest for an intimate look at the area's native population of grey wolves – thought to be one of the last wild wolf packs in the world to live relatively undisturbed by humans. A combined narrative of personal experiences and scientific facts, McAllister's work offers deep insight into the daily lives and social structure of one of nature's most misunderstood beings. From raising of young to hunting for food, to the threats posed by an ever-encroaching human population of trophy hunters, loggers, and developers, McAllister leaves little in the lives of these amazing animals unexplored. Following the Last Wild Wolves will leave you with a whole new appreciation for these unique populations that many don't even know exist.




 

Judy recommends Pico Iyer's The Art of Stillness

I've found the one book that I'll be taking to that desert island. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer is a gem!

Whether you long for a life out of the rat-race, yearn for moments of inner quiet, are a seasoned meditator, or a Leonard Cohen fan, you will be inspired by this small but mighty volume. You will pick it up frequently for both its pictorial beauty and its succinct language. Plus, it will be readily transportable to that desert island. 






 

Rosarie recommends Alexandra Horowitz's On Looking

I know that not everyone sees the world the same way, but it took reading this book to actually appreciate just how much our perceptions vary.

Alexandra Horowitz took walks with 10 different people (and a dog) through ordinary neighbourhoods and each one used a different “lens” to view their surroundings. The geologist had tales of rocks, soil, and building the structure of the city. The typographer was concerned with words and communication. The orthopedic surgeon noticed people’s gaits, etc.

Her walking companions tilted her world. She tilted mine.