Blog | Essential Gifts for the Book Lover

December 05, 2023

Essential Gifts for the Book Lover

BECOMING A MATRIARCH – Helen Knott
Knopf Canada / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Memoir

When matriarchs begin to disappear, there is a choice to either step into the places they leave behind, or to craft a new space.

“Knott lays out that which all Indigenous women know and feel on a cellular level…we are only here because of the women, the matriarchs, the warriors, the survivors, the courageous ones, the fierce ones, the loving ones who came before us.  Beautifully, tenderly Knott maps out for the reader the intrinsic way Indigenous women lift up, celebrate, and support one another.”
~ Nahanni Fontaine, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba

BECOMING ‘YOU’ FOR WOMEN – Wendy Turner-Larsen
FriesenPress
GENRE: Self-Help, Motivational

This book is the must-have kit for women who are ready to take the leap to become who they really are.

“Wendy Turner-Larsen’s commitment to quality learning and living is apparent in this book that is chock-full of insightful, thought-provoking and helpful information.”
~ Dr. June Donaldson, International Business Consultant

BLACK WING – David Campiche
FriesenPress
GENRE: Action-Adventure, Indigenous

Black Wing is a banquet for the senses, a symphony for the emotions, an elegy for what’s gone, and a clarion call for what needs to be done.

“I found it to be an incredible journey through moments of past and present history. Black Wing is a must read.”
~John Joseph, Native American Spiritual Leader

DOPPELGANGER: A TRIP INTO THE MIRROR WORLD – Naomi Klein
Knopf Canada / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Politics

What if you woke up one morning and found you’d acquired another self…a double who was almost you and yet not you at all?  What if that double shared many of your preoccupations but, in a twisted, upside-down way, furthered the very causes you’d devoted your life to fighting against?

“There is something hopeful in this project, in its sheer intellectual ambition and range, its effort to pick apart and decipher the absurdities and ironies of our political derangement, which almost no other writer could pull off.  If I had to name a single book that makes sense of these last few dark years, it would be this one.”
~ Katie Roiphe for The New York Times

EVERYONE HERE IS LYING – Shari Lapena
Penguin Random House
GENRE: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

A gripping new thriller from the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author, filled with secrets, guilt, and suspicion around every corner.

“The most addictive book I’ve read in ages…so slick and disquieting and clever.  Just brilliant.”
~ Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Remains

FIRE WEATHER: A TRUE STORY FROM A HOTTER WORLD – John Valiant
Knopf Canada / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Science, Environment

A stunning account of a colossal wildfire that collided with a city and a panoramic exploration of the rapidly changing relationship between fire and humankind.  This is a 2023 National Book Award Finalist for Non-Fiction.

“Grips like a philosophical thriller, warns like a beacon, and shocks to the core.”
~ Robert Macfarlane, bestselling author of Underland

GO AS A RIVER – Shelley Read
Doubleday Canada / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Historical Fiction

A sweeping, heart-stopping epic of a young woman’s journey to becoming, set against the harsh beauty of mid-century Colorado.

“Hard to believe this novel is written by a debut author.  From the very first page, the writing and the story drew me in and I found myself engrossed in the story immediately.  It’s also a book I continue to think about after I read the last page.”
~ The Bashful Bookworm

I WILL FIND YOU – Harlan Cobin
Grand Central Publishing / Hachette Book Group
GENRE: Thriller, Mystery

An innocent father serving life for the murder of his own son receives evidence that his child may still be alive, and must break out of prison to find out the truth.

“Riveting, thrilling and suspenseful!  The writing is sharp and tight.  The characters are tormented, resourceful and determined.  And the plot is an intense, mysterious tale filled with twists, turns, mayhem, coercion, politics, power, obsession, lies, secrets, deception, and murder.”
~ whatsbetterthanbooks.com

LONE WOMEN – Victor LaValle
One World / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Horror, Historical Fiction

Blue skies, empty land…and enough room to hide away a horrifying secret.  Or is there?  Discover a haunting new vision of the American West.

“LaValle’s Lone Woman deftly weaves history, horror, suspense and the perspectives of those rarely recorded in the West.  It’s an apt invocation in a novel centered on marginalized women in the American West who are finding ways to do more than just survive.”
~ Chanelle Benz for the New York Times

MOON OF THE TURNING LEAVES – Waubgeshig Rice
Penguin Random House
GENRE: Horror, Science Fiction

A 2023 National Bestseller, this is the highly anticipated sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow.  When the world goes dark…how will you survive?

“Like its predecessor, Leaves smoulders with mounting tension, punctuated by flashes of shocking violence. But from the opening scene…a joyous birth and traditional naming ceremony…Rice reminds the reader that regeneration can always follow disaster.”
~ Michelle Cyca for the Globe and Mail

MOONLIGHT SERENADE – Gordon Wallace, Ph.D.
FriesenPress
GENRE: Self-Help, Psychology

AGING – You can run from it, but you can’t hide, so the inevitable question is HOW ARE YOU GOING TO MEET IT?

“…this much-needed book serves as a practical support for those in their later years. Highly recommended!”
~ Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre

OLD BABES IN THE WOOD: STORIES – Margaret Atwood
McLelland & Steward / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Short Stories

A dazzling collection of short stories from Margaret Atwood that look deeply into the heart of family relationships, marriage, loss and memory, and what it means to spend a life together.

Old Babes in the Wood is touching, smart, funny, and unique in equal measure.  Atwood, who’s always had her finger on the pulse of modern society, tackles everything from love and the afterlife to the importance of language and the pandemic.  Throughout all these stories, Atwood’s usual wit is always present, and she offers plenty of memorable characters and lines.”
~ Gabino Iglesias for NPR

ON CONSTANCE – Karin Konoval
FriesenPress
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Travel

A memoir of a journey to and through the remarkable city of New Orleans, finding resonance and ultimately joy in the most unexpected encounters and unlikely places.

“Read this book, laugh and smile with a real storyteller. You’ll be booking your flight to New Orleans, listening to Karin read it to you on the flight. Wonderful!”
~ Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files

RIVER MUMMA – Zalika Reid-Benta
Penguin Random House
GENRE: Fantasy, Mythology

An exhilarating contemporary fantasy novel about a young Black woman who navigates her quarter-life-crisis while embarking on a mythical quest through the streets of Toronto.

“Wholly original, remarkably crafted, and unmatched in voice, atmosphere, and action, River Mumma should be on every must-read list this season.  I loved this book!”
~ Cherie Dimaline, bestselling author of VenCo

SHE WHO BURNS – Myrl Coulter
FriesenPress
GENRE: Fantasy, Mythology

With its vivid cast of compelling women, this book offers a powerful, fast-paced, engaging story that seizes the heart and doesn’t let go.

“Riveting family saga with themes of female empowerment creatively tied to tarot lore…a timely, poignant novel.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

THE BITTLEMORES – Jann Arden
Penguin Random House
GENRE: Fiction, Mystery

A heartfelt, comedic, and deeply satisfying debut novel by singer-songwriter Jann Arden.  This novel digs into how people come to be so cruel, but it also glories in the miracle of human kindness.

“Readers will have to decide for themselves how easily they can reconcile the whimsy of talking cows with Arden’s unflinching depiction of kidnapping, domestic abuse, and alcoholism.  Readers up for an off-kilter mystery will have a tough time letting go of this one.”
~ Publishers Weekly

THE COVENANT OF WATER – Abraham Verghese
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
GENRE: Historical Fiction

A stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret.

“It’s one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life.  It’s epic.  It’s transportive.  Many moments during the read I had to stop and remember to breathe.  I couldn’t put the book down until the very last page.  It was unputdownable!”
~ Oprah Winfrey

THE DEFECTOR – Chris Hadfield
Mulholland Books / Hachette Book Group
GENRE: Thriller, Science Fiction

From author, astronaut, and fighter pilot Chris Hadfield comes a riveting new thriller perfect for fans of Top Gun and The Hunt For Red October.

“Rich with insider detail and political intrigue drawn from real events, The Defector is a propulsive thriller from a growing master of the genre, filled with the nerve-shredding  rush of aerial combat as it could only be told by one of the world’s best fighter pilots.”
~ Goodreads

THE MANOR HOUSE – Gilly Macmillan
William Morrow & Company / HarperCollins
GENRE: Thriller, Mystery

From the New York Times Bestseller Gilly Macmillan comes the terrifying story of what can happen after all your dreams come true.

The Manor House is a thrill ride with twists and turns you could never see coming.  Be transported, but never become too complacent.  With this book, you never know who to trust.”
~ Tierney Linton for Novels Alive

THE WHISPERS – Ashley Audrain
Pamela Dorman Books / Penguin Random House
GENRE: Thriller, Mystery

From the author of The Push comes a page turner about four suburban families whose lives are changed when the unthinkable happens…and what is lost when good people make unconscionable choices. 

“With her second novel, Audrain has taken command of what might be called the suburbs-and-secrets genre.  The book isn’t high-concept, narrative driven fiction, but a thoughtful, character-driven examination of contemporary morality and beliefs, in this case around motherhood, family, sacrifice and uncertainty.”
~ Robert J. Wiersema for The Toronto Star

THIS OTHER EDEN – Paul Harding
W.W. Norton & Company
GENRE: Historical Fiction

A novel inspired by the true story of the once racially integrated Malaga Island off the coast of Maine, This Other Eden was a 2023 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

“Based on the history of an actual Maine island, This Other Eden tells a tragic story.  But Harding’s finely wrought prose shows us a community that refuses to see itself through the judgmental eyes of others, a society composed of people who give their neighbours the same latitude to go their own way that they claim for themselves.  It closes on a note of determined hope, with an emblem of continuity and endurance held high above the waters that separate Apple Island from the censorious mainland.”
~ Wendy Smith for the Washington Post

UNDISPUTED: A CHAMPION’S LIFE – Donovan Bailey
Penguin Random House
GENRE: Sports, Biography

A memoir of Olympic glory, the value of mentorship and the courage to champion your own excellence from the long reigning “World’s Fastest Man”, Canadian sprinting legend Donovan Bailey.

“(Bailey) hasn’t lost any of the old combative spirit as he looks back on life in the fast lane.  No matter what misgivings Undisputed might create about the geniality of its author, Donovan Bailey has ultimately delivered a bracing counter-narrative to any sense that Canadian track and field is or was perfectly managed.”
~ David Giddens, CBC Sports

VenCo – Cherie Dimaline
Penguin Random House Canada
GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal

A wickedly subversive, deliciously imaginative, deeply feminist novel of contemporary witches on the rise.

“In case it’s not clear from the description, VenCo is an absolute thrill ride of a book, a page turner of the highest order.  It is also, as one would expect from Dimaline, a smart book.  [It is] a powerful and unique reading experience, threaded through with humour and peril.  It’s a perfect novel for a winter’s day, because sometimes, our reading needs a touch of magic.”
~ Robert J. Wiersema for The Toronto Star