Tag Archives: Adult Fiction

Canada Reads 2021

canada reads 2021 bannerAre you ready for the 20th anniversary of Canada Reads? From March 8-11, the CBC will be hosting its annual Canada Reads competition, in which five books by Canadian authors are selected by five different representatives, each one tasked with defending the title in fun “battle of the books” style debates, voting out titles until only one is left standing. That last book will be this year’s winner, crowned “the book that every Canadian should read” 

The debates are broadcast for public viewing, and this year will be no different! You can catch the debates on multiple platforms like CBC GemCBC Radio OneCBC TV, and CBC Books. You can even get involved in the discussion over on the CBC Canada Reads Facebook group!  

Check out this year’s competing titles below: 

 

midnight bargain book coverThe Midnight Bargain by CL Polk

The Midnight Bargain is the latest novel from Calgary’s CL Polk, author of 2019’s hit fantasy Witchmark (which was nominated at the Nebula, Locus, and Lambda Awards, and won the 2019 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel). This time, Polk concocts a fantasy world that’s part Regency (think Jane Austen or Bridgerton), part The Handmaid’s Tale, and all magical. In this world, women are forbidden from using magic while still in childbearing yearsbut that won’t stop our protagonist Beatrice Clayborn! Kirkus Reviews calls it “An expertly concocted mélange of sweet romance and sharp social commentary.” The book is being defended by Rosey Edeh, a three-time Canadian Olympian turned television host (she can be found on CTV Morning Live Ottawa). Edeh calls the The Midnight Bargain “a fantastic journey filled with magic, love and self-determination. It’s abiding, beautifully paced social commentary”.  

This book is available on Overdrive and Hoopla.

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To Hype or Not to Hype

midnight library coverPicture yourself in this scenario: you hear about a book (maybe you see it on prominent display at a bookstore, or it’s topping the bestseller lists, or Reese Witherspoon picks it for her book club). You think, “that sounds like something I’d enjoy”. You join the waitlist at the library and you’re 95 people deep. Then, months later, you finally get to read the book and you think to yourself, “…that’s it?” (Infomercial voice) Has this ever happened to you? If so, you may have found yourself the victim of hype. Don’t worry, it’s a place we all find ourselves now and again—and some of us (cough me) find ourselves there repeatedly, all year long!  

This post was, of course, inspired by my current readwhich is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig—a book that has such a long waitlist at VPL that I’m only reading it now because I got a copy of it for Christmas. At the time of writing this, the book was sold out online at Indigo, no doubt helped by Dolly Parton mentioning that she’s reading it in a New York Times interview from December. The book also has a 4.22 rating on Goodreads, which, on scale of one to five stars, is quite good. I’m headed towards the end of the book, and I have to say: it’s…fine. Like, it’s not bad by any means. But nor is it particularly good? It’s just…fine.  

Falling prey to the hype machine is something most avid readers will experience periodically; there’s really no way around it. Hype is a double-edged sword: an excellent word-of-mouth promo tool, but also a bullseye for backlash. When I say “hype”, I don’t mean your friend who fell in love with a book and insists that you read it; I mean the cultural circus that surrounds a book sometimes well before it’s even released to the general public. It’s something that’s built up from the bottom; sometimes a book is a sleeper hit that no one predicted, but most of the time, a book is highly visible on purpose. If a publishing house thinks they have a title that the public will eat up, they really throw their back into that promo. So by the time it reaches our eyes and ears, the hype will have snowballed into something unignorable, forcing that book into your line of vision—you might not even know what the book is about, but you’ve heard it’s supposed to be good! Again, I’m not claiming this as a strictly good or bad thing. One could argue that, with the unprecedented volume of books available, hype can be a lightning rod for readers looking for a little guidance. It shortens the search process. “Here’s a book we think you’ll like”, it says—and truly, don’t we all love to hear that? 

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Together Vaughan: Celebrating Community in Difficult Times

Angela, from Pierre Berton Resource Library, and her daughters Maya and Kara, created this beautiful wall chalk art outside their homes to express their gratitude and thoughts on COVID-19. #TogetherVaughan

I’ve been thinking a lot about what community means. How do we define community? What brings communities together during times of hardship?

I’ve seen a lot of people uniting for the greater good lately. From demonstrations of appreciation for frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, to peaceful protests against systemic anti-black racism and police violence. Our communities refuse to back down. We are strong, resilient, and we won’t stop fighting for justice.

Community isn’t just a group of people inhabiting the same place. Community is about solidarity, empathy, and respect. It’s about acknowledging the often invisible ties that link us all. To be a member of a community is to be a member of a team — something greater than yourself. You can’t spell community without unity.

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