The Boat People by Sharon Bala

A young Sri Lanka father risks everything to escape the civil war and bring his six year old son to Canada, to safety. The book tells the story of what he had to do to survive the terrorists before he fled and the story of the people who must listen to his story and determine whether or not it is safe to let him into the country. The beauty of the book is that it shows the complexities faced by all parties as they strive to understand each other. A beautiful and timely novel.

The Storm by Anwar Arif

The synopsis on the Ottawa Public Library put it far better than i can – but read this book – it’s beautiful!!!

Shahryar, a recent Ph.D. graduate and father of nine-year-old Anna, must leave the U.S. when his visa expires. As father and daughter spend their last remaining weeks together, Shahryar tells Anna the history of his country, beginning in a village on the Bay of Bengal, where a poor fisherman and his Hindu wife, who converted to Islam out of love for him, are preparing to face a storm of historic proportions. Their story intersects with those of a Japanese fighter pilot, a British female doctor stationed in Burma during World War II, a Buddhist monk originally from Austria, and a privileged couple in Calcutta who leave everything behind to move to East Pakistan following the Partition of India. The structure of this riveting novel mimics the storm itself — building to a series of revelatory and moving climaxes as it explores the many ways in which families love, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another.

First Snow, Last Light by Wayne Johnston

Ned Vatcher is 14 when he comes home from school to find that his parents have disappeared. Years pass and Ned, who lives with his grandparents, Nan and Reg, and is in more contact than he’d like with his conniving Uncle Cyril, continues to dwell on the mystery of his parents’ disappearance. Father Duggan, a kind hearted Jesuit, remains steadfast throughout as does Sheilagh Fielding, the hard living journalist who is a recurring character in Johnston’s novels. Slowly, Ned moves towards the truth of the shocking events that led up to his parent’s disappearance. I loved this novel by Wayne Johnston – but then again I’ve loved all the books he’s written!

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

A wealthy woman is found dead six hours after planning her own funeral. A private detective hires a novelist (I wonder who?) to write the story of how he solves the crime. This is another story within a story by Horowitz – it’s funny and clever as was The Magpie Murders.

The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Susan Ryeland is a publisher who must continue to put up with the unsettling behaviour of her star crime novelist, Alan Conway, if she wants to keep her job. Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pund investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

This is a murder story within a murder story and so entertaining you’ll find it hard to put down – well, I did!

The DreadfulWater Mystery series by Thomas King

This series takes place in a remote town where ex-detective Thumps DreadfulWater has found refuge after a terrible enduring a tragedy. Amid a cast of eccentric, lovable characters Thumps is attempting to rebuild his life as a photographer. Of course, fate keeps intervening by laying bodies at the town’s doorstep forcing Thumps back into the detective role he so desperately wants to shed. This series is Thomas King at his best – funny, wise, sardonic and entertaining (oh, and they’re good mysteries too!)

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Frances is hired to write a report on the follies in the garden of an old dillapidated home in England. There she meets Cara and Peter, a glamorous, hedonistic couple who dazzle Frances offering her their unexpected friendship. As Frances becomes increasingly entangled in their lives she finds that their stories don’t always quite add up. The lines between right and wrong, truth and falsehood become blurred and when a terrible crime occurs Frances is faced with the consequences of her blind love for people she barely knows.

All Things Consoled by Elizabeth Haye

This is a beautiful, wise memoir of Elizabeth Haye’s parents final years. She writes with her signature wisdom and humour as she broaches the devastating reality of losing a parent a little at a time.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

” On a dark, misty night in the small English village of Radcot, locals gather at the Swan Inn to cap their day with drinks and lore. Into the inn bursts a mysterious man, sopping and bloodied and carrying an unconscious four-year-old girl. But before he can explain who he and the child are, and how they came to be injured, he collapses. Upriver, two families are searching desperately for their missing daughters. Alice Armstrong has been missing for twenty-four hours, ever since her mother’s suicide. And Amelia Vaughn vanished without a trace two years prior. When the families learn of the lost little girl at the Swan Inn, each wonders if their child has at last been found. But identifying the child may not be as easy as it seems.”

This is a magnificent tale – fast paced, witty and wise with just the right touch of magic!

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Eleven year old Washington Black is a slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados. When his master’s eccentric, abolishionist brother, Titch, chooses Washington as his manservant, Wash is introduced to a world of science and wonder. When a man dies there is a bounty placed on Washington’s head and Titch risks everything to save him. They flee together but, eventually, Titch must make his own way and reinvent himself. This is a story about a man’s physical journey across sea and land and his intellectual journey from slavery to freedom. A magnificent read!