April 2016 Newsletter

April 2016 Newsletter

The new literary spring season gets well and truly underway this month. We’ll feature highlights from a variety of publishing houses so you get a concise and representative sample of titles releasing throughout April. We’ll also feature some recent editions of classic New York Review of Books(NYRB) re-prints that should pique your interest. These are elegant compact trade paperbacks covering both international fiction and non-fiction that deserve to be discovered by new readers. Drop by our stores to experience the wide range of available titles in this remarkable series as well as the full range of early spring releases.

Save the Date!
Authors for Indies is happening Saturday, April 30!
Book City is thrilled to host nearly 80 author visits between 10:30am and 5pm at our four stores. Do come in, meet your favourite writers, buy their books and the books they love, and support your local independent bookstores and Canadian authors and publishers!
Stay posted for updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages to learn which authors will be visiting us in the Beaches and Bloor West Village, on the Danforth, and at Yonge & St. Clair.

Warm congratulations to Canada Reads winner Lawrence Hill and his book
The Illegal, championed by Clara Hughes.
Titles of Note – April 2016

The Murder of Mary Russell (Laurie R. King) 

It’s been some time since Laurie King introduced her character, the incredible sleuth Mary Russell to the mystery world inThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Monstrous Regiment of Women. The deepening relationship between she and her future husband Sherlock Holmes has developed the Holmes canon into one of the more compelling and intelligent mystery series in recent memory. Things go terrible wrong when the son of their long-time housekeeper Mrs. Hudson suddenly appears on their doorstep and reveals secrets about his mother’s past. It is up to Holmes to piece together the keys to Mrs. Hudson’s past that has led to this devastating act of violence but will he be able to function under the sheer weight of his loss?

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos (Dominic Smith)

This highly touted novel depicts the dangerous convergence of fortune, deception, truth, and ambition in the art world.  In 1631 Sara De Vos is the first woman artist to be admitted as a master painter to a prestigious Dutch guild. Three hundred years later her only surviving work is to be exhibited in a show featuring Dutch women painters.  Ellie Shipley, the chosen curator of this show is more than intimately acquainted with this work, having forged a copy of it during her starving art grad days. She dreads that both works will arrive and she will have to offer some plausible professional explanation that doesn’t shed any light on her direct involvement.

Stalin’s Daughter (Rosemary Sullivan) 

Winner of the recently announced RBC Taylor Prize for Non-fiction and newly released in trade paperback, Sullivan’s finely crafted biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva is an epic yet intimate portrayal of the life of the infamous Soviet dictator’s only child. She was born in 1926 where she lived a protected life inside the Kremlin while many of her relatives were executed by order of her father. She died penniless in rural Wisconsin 85 years later and throughout her life was trapped by her father’s legacy of boundless horror and death. With access to FBI, CIA, and Russian state archives along with the cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Sullivan captures a truly remarkable person living a life that wholly deserves this sensitive and magisterial treatment.

Career of Evil (Robert Galbraith)
This is the third installment of the Cormoran Strike crime fiction series by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. It follows The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. Detective Strike has met some bad apples in his day and when his assistant, Robin Ellacott, receives a very disturbing package, Strike comes up with a shortlist of four individuals who may have wanted to send him this horrific message. As they start their investigation into this crime it becomes clear they will not have time to find the real perpetrator until he’s struck again, and this time much closer to home.

Young Once (Patrick Modiano) 

Two novels by the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 2014 have been released byNYRB. While much has been written about his father’s involvement with the French gestapo and the black market during the Nazi occupation of Paris and how this dark fact affected his psyche and writing style, this novel has been described as one of Modiano’s most engaging. In the French countryside near the Swiss Alps a French couple with two young children are both approaching their mid-thirties. The story shifts back and forth from the present to their past where they met in post-war Paris, a crime riddled city, full of secrets that defined their youth.

The World Beyond Your Head (Matthew B. Crawford)

This follow-up to Crawford’s earlier illuminating treatise on human fulfillment, Shop Class as Soulcraft, is a thoughtful examination of how our attention creates our self. He looks at people who use specific types of attention like short order cooks, hockey players, gambling addicts, and raftspeople to breakdown the type of attention they bring to their lives and work. He then examines the general complaints we all have with the increased distractions of living and dealing with the digital world and puts those in context of the basic assumptions of Western culture that are at odds with fundamental human needs. Profoundly grounding reading for distracted, off-balance people everywhere.

The Mountain Story (Lori Lansens)

Lansens is no stranger to the bestseller lists as her previous titles, Rush Home Road and Girls, resided there for months. Her latest proves that her bestseller status is based on solid narrative skills, character development, and in this case, a rarefied sense of suspense. Eighteen-year-old Wolf is taking a one-way trip up the mountain overlooking Palm Springs with a definite plan in mind. When he encounters three women hikers who are lost and clearly out of their element his plan abruptly changes. Their shared journey back to civilization over the next four days will end one of their lives and change the survivors forever.

It’s Never Too Late (Julia Cameron)

Best known for The Artist’s Way, her groundbreaking bestseller that demystified the creative process and opened up avenues of expression for countless readers, Cameron’s latest is the culmination of her extensive teaching experience in the creative arts. Designed as a 12-week course for those in middle-age or who are contemplating retirement and are at a loss at how to engage their creative selves, this lays out accessible exercises to take advantage of one of the most fruitful times in one’s life for personal growth and well-being. From simple yet effective writing exercises that honour your experience and tap the power and wisdom of your inner self to exercises in spontaneity that reveal the joys of the moment, this offers a wealth of approaches for accessing transformative self- expression.

Onward and Upward in the Garden (Katherine S. White)

On the non-fiction side of life, the NYRB offers a treasure trove of delights and serious works. This is on the decidedly delightful side. Katherine Angell was the New Yorkermagazine’s first fiction editor where she championed the works of Nabokov, Updike, Thurber, Marianne Moore, and her  future husband E.B.White, among others. In 1958 she began to write a column called Onward and Upward in the Garden where she extolled the virtues & wisdom of garden catalogs – her favourite reading material. Two years after her death, E.B. White collected these columns which gave a wonderful appreciation of the aesthetics and pleasures of growing a garden. Regardless of your skill as a gardener, you’ll revel in her observational skills of depicting the intricacies of the gardening life.

Our Spoons Came From Woolworth’s (Barbara Comyns) 

A note on the copyright page of this novel reads “The only things that are true in this story are the wedding and Chapters 10, 11, and 12 and the poverty.” These true things – the wedding (disappointing and his family hates her), the three chapters detailing her experience of childbirth (nightmarish and dehumanizing in a mid-century hospital), and the monotonous poverty – make this small and surprising novel well worth reading. Sophia, a young artist working to support her husband, his art, and their baby in a series of cheap rentals in London between the wars, is a naive and long-suffering but endearing narrator. Read alongside contemporary literature dealing with family, maternity, and work such as Maggie Nelson’sThe Argonauts, Camilla Gibb’s This Is Happy, and Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation, Sophia’s experiences in 1930s London reveal how far women have, and haven’t, come since then.

The Water Knife (Paolo Bacigalupi)
The author of multiple award winning The Wind-Up Girl is back with a high-powered tale over the desperate fight for water rights in south-western U.S.  Angel Velasquez is a “water knife”, a hired enforcer who “cuts” water for a ruthless southern Nevada private developer. As Nevada and Arizona attempt to out-negotiate each other over their respective shares of the dwindling water table of the Colorado River and California decides if they should just divert the entire flow their way, Angel hears of a possible grandfathered water access document that would spell long-term relief for their plans. The race that ensues has Angel develop a latent conscience that may get him killed but would ensure water resources for generations of people outside of private control.

Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains (Yasuko Thanh)

Saigon in 1908 is under French colonial rule and French educated Dr. Nguyen Georges-Minh is becoming increasingly disturbed by the actions of the French authorities as they use the guillotine in the central square to execute those resisting their rule. His metamorphosis from self-loathing professional with close ties to the French establishment to that of underground revolutionary crosses into lethal territory when he has to enact his secret circle’s plan to undermine the regime. Historical fiction that is beautifully rendered and masterfully researched delivers a powerful reading experience.

The Naturalist (Alissa York)
York has shown a distinct affinity for the natural world in her previous novels, Effigy andFauna. Her latest also shares this focus as she relates the story of naturalists in the Amazon during the 1860s. Paul Ash works at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and is much more comfortable in the confines of academia than in the actual wild. When he is unexpectedly called upon to journey to the Amazon accompanying his mother and her companion, he is experiences an extraordinary range of revelations. York proves she is as adept at observing the complexities of human behaviour as she is at reporting on the larger natural world.

Make Something Up:Stories You Can’t Unread (Chuck Pahaniuk)

Author of Fight Cluband thirteen other novels including Lullaby andInvisible Monsters, Palahniuk has been described as “literature’s favourite transgressive author.” Based on the subject matter in these twenty-one stories and novella, how could we argue? Without giving anything away, we have to say this collection lives up to its subtitle and then some. A character from Fight Club does make an appearance in one of the stories but you don’t have to be familiar with his previous work to immerse yourself in these stories that display his particular brand of delightfully disturbing literary lightning bolts.

In the Cafe of Lost Youth 

(Patrick Modiano)

Also recently released is Modiano’s In the Café of Lost Youth which explores the shadowy world of writers, criminals, drinkers, and drifters in a particular subculture of Paris in the 1950s. An enigmatic young woman named Louki is our entrance point to this world , through the observations of four narrotors including Louki herself. Modiano again explores the themes of identity, memory, time, and forgetting that are at the heart of his spellbinding and deeply moving art.

Mexican Hooker #1 (Carmen Aguirre)

To say that Carmen Aguirre has led a full life is one of the more egregious understatements in recent memory. She won the CBC Canada Reads in 2012 for her memoir Something Fierce. It relayed her young dangerous life during the decade of 1979 – 89 when she and her sister accompanied her revolutionary mother back to Chile in 1973 after becoming refugees in Canada fleeing the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Her follow-up memoir recounts her life as she returns to Vancouver as a 22-year-old in 1990 and begins her training as an actor. Her story and that of her revolutionary family is told in episodes that flashback to her earlier brief time in Vancouver when she was raped at age 13 and the devastating effects this had throughout her life. She decides to face the rapist along with other survivors as part of the healing process. The ordeals she endures are matched by the eventual hard-won successes she makes in her remarkable life and career.

Lab Girl (Hope Jahren)

It’s rare to have an engaging memoir that combines eloquence with accessible science writing but award-winning scientist Jahren delivers on both counts. Her father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her to play in the lab and her mother was an English major who fostered her love of reading. A renowned botanist, Jahren imbues her struggles as a student and fledgling scientist with a depth of feeling most novelists would be envious of. Along the way she provides absorbing botany lessons about a variety of plants, particularly trees. As she develops as a scientist and builds a number of labs, she recruits a brilliant but challenging lab partner who accompanies her on their scientific forays around the world and who adds a whole other dimension to this work.

A Good Death (Sandra Martin) 

This extremely timely exploration of the complex issues surrounding legalized physician assisted death in Canada is sensitively and intelligently approached by Martin. She offers a clear concise history of this morally loaded issue in recent Canadian history as well as detailing the legislative experience of this issue in the Netherlands, Oregon, California, Switzerland, and Quebec. She has read extensively on the moral slippery slopes that exist and makes it clear that in order to be effective and responsible to all parties involved our legislation must balance compassion for the suffering with protection of the vulnerable as well as respect for individual choice in relation to broad social responsibility.

This is Not My Life (Diane Schoemperlen) 

Schoemperlen is a fascinating and inspired writer not afraid to take risks. While some readers know her as the author of theGovernor General Award-winning Forms of Devotionalong with Our Lady of the Lost  and Found and By the Book, most probably don’t know she was in a relationship with a prison inmate serving a life sentence for second-degree murder for almost six years. She explains that she was as surprised as anyone as to how this complex relationship came about. She candidly explores its development, the significant obstacles in terms of prison protocol they had to endure along with all the emotional ups and downs they experienced. More importantly, the empathy, compassion, and self-understanding she gains during this time unfolds in an unusually engrossing and revealing way.

The Sleep Revolution (Arianna Huffington) 

Co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post and author of Thrive turns her attention to the vital importance of the quality of sleep in our lives. In Thrive she proposed a complete overhaul of the definition of success that emphasized well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. She noted the importance of sleep in attaining well-being and The Sleep Revolution addresses this in a much more detail. It discusses the history of sleep and advances in sleep science and dreams including the wide range of consequences resulting from sleep deprivation. The effect of sleep on our work, personal, and sex lives is profound and this expansive and well-researched study includes many recommendations on fully experiencing its rich health benefits.

While many of you know how deep Canadian talent is in the graphic art/ book department we thought we would give those who don’t a sample of the diversity in this genre by featuring two new April releases by some remarkable Canadian illustrators and writers.
Nameless City (Faith Erin Hicks) 

From the author of Friends with Boys. Hicks proves she’s a master at creating a viscerally real action adventure middle-grade tale that mixes history with myth, magic, and wonderful characters. The Nameless City is constantly being taken over by new invaders so it’s no wonder the native dwellers are never too impressed with the latest crop of occupiers. The relationship between Rat, a native, and Kaidu, one of the new marauders, is off to a rocky start but will they be able to reconcile their differences? This is the first in a series that is sure to be a hit with the middle-graders.

In-Between Days (Teva Harrison)

This graphic novel exemplifies the power of the genre to address big issues for all ages. At age 37 Harrison was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This graphic memoir combines illustration and short essays that depict life with this disease in all the day-to-day realities and motional adjustments it entails. Long term goals are juxtaposed with the uncertain future and feelings of helplessness with those of hope. She renders the heightened appreciation and awareness of acts of kindness, love, and wonder in a sublimely nuanced and very personal way.


Lumberjanes (Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brook Allen) 

The third in the graphic series featuring the adventures of five best friends has been described as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls. In this new summer adventure the intrepid and fearless Janes embark on a journey through magical portals to untouched lands that time forgot. The Janes being who they are prove once again they are up to the unexpected surprises that jump out at them along the way.

Sophi Quire and the Last Storyguard (Jonathan Auxier)

The second installment of the Peter Nimble series sees young Peter and his cat companion Sir Tode summoned by Professor Cake for a special mission. They are to find 12 year-old bookbinder Sophie Quire who works in her father’s bookshop and seek her help in unraveling the mystery inside a very rare and
 mysterious book they must deliver to her.  Then it’s off to the races and Sophie’s world becomes more interesting than anything she’s ever read before.

Stories of the Aurora (Joan Marie Galat & Lorna Bennett)
In this latest edition to theDot to Dot in the Sky series that explains astronomy to middle graders, the Aurora Borealis is the subject. Inuit, Nordic, and Mi’kmaq legends are told as well as an explanation of the latest scientific data on the atmospheric conditions that create this incredible northern light show.

Playing From the Heart (Peter Reynolds)

From the acclaimed author ofDot & Ish comes an eloquent tale of the power of music and memory. A young boy enjoys plunking away on the family piano for the sheer fun of it. When his father signs him up for lessons to learn recognizable tunes, he becomes an accomplished pianist but the enjoyment fades and he gives piano up entirely as an adult.  Many years later when his father becomes ill and asks him to play, he doubts he’ll be able to play anything at all.

Saving Montgomery Sole (Mariko Tamaki)
Many readers are familiar with Tamaki’s works that she co-wrote with her cousin, the illustrator Jillian Tamaki, Skim and This One Summer.  Her first YA novel was (You) Set Me on Fire and she returns to the YA novel format in her latest offering that explores the life of small town girl Montgomery Sole. Monty definitely feels like a fish out of water. With two moms and forced to go to a school rank with homophobia, her two friends, Thomas and Naoki are her lifelines. Obsessed with the paranormal world of ESP, astrology, and the healing powers of frozen yogurt, Monty’s journey of self-discovery is a wonderfully honest, humorous,and arresting coming of age story for all ages.

Raymie Nightingale (Kate DiCamillo) 
Two-time Newberry Awardmedalist Kate DiCamillo returns with a summer story about three girls involved in very different ways with the upcoming Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Raymie Nightingale has to win it because then her father who has just run off with a dental hygienist will come back,  but first she’ll have to beat the talented Louisiana Elefante. Then there’s the formidable Beverly Tapinski who just wants to blow the whole thing up. A variation ofLittle Miss Sunshine focusing on the kids’ involvement and the unexpected turns in their relationships.

The Fourteenth Goldfish (Jennifer Holm)

This middle-grade novel by three time Newberry Honourwinner Jennifer Holm tackles some big issues like cloning, immortality, and the limits of science. When a grumpy new kid shows up at Ellie’s school that looks and acts a lot like her grumpy scientist grandfather who was obsessed with immortality, she starts some humorous inquiries that lead to some major implications of what’s possible.

Scribble (Ruth Ohi)

Ohi displays a great sense of humour in this tale of reluctant teamwork and the startling joy of creativity for early readers ages 3-8. Circle likes rolling around while square enjoys sitting solidly on the ground and triangle likes giving directions from all her good points. When scribble comes careening into their space, they don’t know what to do with all this crazy energy. Once the shapes get adjusted to zigzags and wavy lines – the fun really starts and the adventures begin!

Mom, Dad, Our Books, and Me (Danielle Marcotte)
This wonderfully whimsical ode to reading in all its myriad forms is a joy to behold. A young boy and those around him discover a great many things to read – from novels to cookbooks, from sheet music, cards, and faces to the stars in the sky. All are depicted with some of their favourite places to read – hammocks, bubble baths, park benches, and waiting rooms. Illustrated in a vibrant collage format, young readers will warm up to this imaginative introduction to the many ways we read and how it connects us to others in surprising ways.

Zoomberry (Dennis Lee)

Based on his poem “The Wizard” from a previous collection of Children’s poems, Melvis & Elvis, Canada’s Father Goose shares a secret recipe for dream flight.  This new board book with illustrations by Dusan Petricic will introduce the enchanting powers of Zoomberry pie to new generations of the very young.

Here’s to the joy and insights of new reading adventures. 
See you soon!    

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