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Favourite Fiction of 2016


Here are some of our favourites from the many books that we have read so far in 2016 - we loved them, and hope that you will too! Keep checking back for additions to this newest list of "must reads".

Lemaître, Pierre
Blood wedding

I picked this book off the shelf without knowing anything about the author, and oh my, what a find. It's a creepy, atmospheric and somewhat disturbing psychological thriller, centering on a young woman who thinks she is going mad. We've all experienced the self-doubt of losing something important only for it to turn up in a strange place a few days later, but when Sophie's forgetfulness takes a more ominous turn she ends up on the run, relying on her wits and resourcefulness to get by. I won't say any more about the plot, because there are some dark and delicious twists that will leave you craving much more from this author. Suffice to say it's one of my best reads of 2016. (Susan, Hespeler)

Bowen, Lila.
Wake of vultures

Whoa! This is one crazy awesome ride! In a magical old west filled with monsters, half-black, half-native orphan Nettie Lonesome has led a hard-knock but ordinary life. Until the day she kills one and then suddenly she can see all the monsters. Thus begins a quest to take down a baby-stealing evil legend. Nettie is a great character (tough, complex and maybe not quite human herself) and you’ll root for her. Fantastic, dark and compelling! Leah (Queen's Square)

Khemiri, Jonas Hassen
Everything I don't remember

Memory, its fragility, its unreliability, its fluidity, is studied in all its forms in this hauntingly beautiful novel. Stylistically told, this book centers around the death of a young man, Samuel. After Samuel’s passing, an unnamed reporters interviews all the people from his life to piece together who Samuel was and why he died. Told as a series of intertwining interviews, the reader is left to piece together Samuel’s life, and death, from the points of view of the people who knew him. As the book progresses we are left to wonder if we can trust their memories, or even our own. Do we edit our memories? Can we trust what we remember? Heavy questions are handled deftly by Swedish author Khemiri. Jessica (Queen's Square Library)

Cline, Emma.
The girls

The Girls by Emma Cline tells the story of Evie Boyd, a drifting teenager who comes under the spell of a Charles Manson-like cult. Where Cline succeeds is in dissecting the needs and desires of teenage girls: the power plays and the longing to fit in somewhere. Cline apparently was inspired to write the novel after reading her mother's diaries from the late Sixties. A stellar first novel effort. (Phil, Queen's Square)

Prentiss, Molly.
Tuesday nights in 1980

Downtown New York at the dawn of the 1980s was a gritty, brash and wildly creative place. Here's a book that magically captures this bright and brilliant scene before money and AIDS wiped it almost out. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and other art superstars make cameos alongside a cast of unforgettable characters, including a painter from Argentina, a dreamer from the Midwest, and a critic who experiences one sense as another. Suspenseful and edgy, this read easily tops my favourites list this year. (Laura, Queen's Square)

Charish, Kristi.
Owl and the Japanese circus

Half Indiana Jones, half Lara Croft and all trouble! That’s ex-archaeology grad student turned antiquities thief Alix “The Owl” Hiboux all right. She wants nothing to do with the hidden supernatural world, but when Mr. Kurosawa (a dragon changeling) offers her protection in exchange for retrieving a long lost artifact for him, Alix has no choice. So armed with her wits, her best friend Nadya’s help, Rynn, a hot mercenary who inspires mixed feelings, and her trusty vampire-hunting cat Captain, she sets off in search of a mysterious scroll. I love this awesome and exciting new fantasy series from Canadian author Kristi Charish. It’s good snarky, geeky fun! And you get to trot the globe to exotic locations to break into tombs with Alix in a breathless race against time. Just watch out for mummies! (Leah, Queens Square)

Kincheloe, Jennifer
The secret life of Anna Blanc

Some would think that rich socialite Anna has a perfect life, but she lives in a gilded cage. If she doesn’t follow her father’s orders, she could lose everything. Set in Los Angeles in 1907, Anna, a spunky lover of mystery novels, secretly becomes a police matron. When no one seems to care about a string of brothel murders, she starts working alongside the infuriating police chief’s son, detective Joe Singer. Anna risks her reputation and her life to try to stop the killing. (Leah, Queen's Square)

Meno, Joe.
Marvel and a wonder

Starkly mesmerizing books about luck and loss don’t get much better than this beautiful thriller. Out of the blue, a struggling farmer is given a prize racehorse. The near-magical creature promises to solve his money problems and bring him closer to his teenage grandson. As events unravel in very dark and unexpected ways, the tension becomes almost unbearable. In fact, I felt so strongly for the characters that I almost had to stop reading midway through. Part family saga, crime drama, and road story, but all-in-all an epic page-turner worthy of a big screen adaptation. (Laura, Queen's Square Library)

Daviau, Mo.
Every anxious wave

Washed-up guitarist Karl Bender discovers a worm hole in his closet. He uses it to send people back in time to see rock shows (duh, of course!). Like all time travel stories, trouble ensues when Karl starts messing with the past. Well that, and he sends his only friend back to the year 980 instead of 1980. With the heart of a Nick Hornby novel and a title taken from a Sebadoh song, this light and laugh-out-loud read will definitely appeal to fans of old school indie rock and anyone who enjoys a good quirky tale. (Laura, Queen's Square)

Echlin, Kim A.
Under the visible life

This small Canadian novel feels epic. It covers several decades (40s-70s) in the lives of two women musicians who escape their tumultuous lives through music and friendship. Katherine, a fatherless girl, is a product of her mother’s affair with a Chinese immigrant while Mahsa is born in Pakistan to an American father and an Afghan mother. Needless to say, their lives are complex and they face discrimination. Although they may triumph and they may suffer, the music saves them in this moving novel. (Leah, Queen's Square)

Bodard, Aliette de.
The house of shattered wings

This book is very unique and creates a fascinating world. But I would call it a literary fantasy novel rather than an action-filled page-turner. The writing is top-notch and has a lyrical quality while the characters are intriguing. A creeping sense of menace pervades a haunted, twisted Paris devastated by magical wars. A once great house, Silverspires, is losing its magic and something is killing its inhabitants. A fallen angel, a man with mysterious powers and an addicted alchemist may be the only ones that stand between the house and complete destruction. But are they too late? (Leah, Queen's Square)

Richards, Emilie
The color of light

I couldn’t put this absorbing novel down! Richards is known for her realistic, complex characters and books full of emotion and she delivers again here. When Minister Analiese Wagner finds a homeless family on church grounds, she helps them even though she knows she’ll have to battle the more conservative church members. Smart, strong teenager Shiloh just wants to rescue her family but wonders if her new situation is too good to be true. When Isaiah, a conflicted catholic priest, Analiese’s mentor and a man she secretly loves from afar, shows up, it adds to the turbulent times. A wonderful novel about keeping others and the power of forgiveness. (Leah, Queen's Square)

Gruen, Sara.
At the water's edge

Gruen, of Water for Elephants fame, has another winner on her hands! Just don’t expect a lot of loch ness monster lore. Really this fascinating novel is more about a troubled marriage and a woman finding herself. When Maddie and Ellis are cut off from his family’s money, they decide to try to succeed where Ellis’s father didn’t and find the loch ness monster. It’s in Scotland during the end of WWII, that Ellis starts to show his true colours, while Maddie blossoms with new friends and a true purpose in her life. (Leah, Queen's Square)

Haslett, Adam.
Imagine me gone

Haslett is nearly unparalleled in providing insight into mental illness. This novel, told in a number of voices tells the story of Michael, whose struggles with depression, provides the impetus for this story. Characters are full and richly created, and little kernels of joy creep into what could be a heavy-handed or depressing topic in weaker hands than Haslett.

Strout, Elizabeth.
My name is Lucy Barton

There is no one currently writing who is better able to dissect family dynamics or provide insight than Elizabeth Strout. Her clarity and unsentimental approach makes this book one of the great pleasures of 2016. (Phil, Queen's Square)

Hannah, Kristin.
The nightingale

This is the amazing story of two very different sisters and their very different experiences during WWII in Occupied France. It was a heart wrenching tale, but so worth the tears I spilled as I read. Definitely a must read for anyone who loves historical fiction or emotional stories. (Jamie, Queen's Square)

Donoghue, Emma
The wonder

I could not put down this haunting, heart wrenching novel from Room author Emma Donoghue. Lib, an English nurse, is summoned to Ireland for an unusual assignment: observe an eleven-year-old girl who reportedly has not eaten in four months, and determine whether or not she is indeed a living miracle. The child worsens day by day, and soon Lib is caught between science and superstition - body and soul - in a gripping struggle to save a life. (Jessica, Preston)

Moore, Lisa Lynne

Flannery Malone is a girl with a lot of problems. Her best friend is drifting away, her mom is a bit of a flake, and word’s getting around school that she’s “welfare.” On the bright side, she’s been assigned to a group project with the unrequited love of her life, Tyrone O’Rourke … if only she could get his attention. Newfoundland author Lisa Moore is known for writing award-winning adult fiction, so I was surprised to hear she would be releasing novel for teens. She’s still dealing with serious subject matter here, but ‘Flannery’ also happens to be a sweet, funny story about first love, family, and growing up. (Jessica, Preston Library)