What We’re Reading: World War 1

I have been following with great interest The Record’s series about local men who fought in the First World War (1914-1918).  It’s so sad to think of all those young men who were killed, leaving behind grieving families.  I found myself wanting to read more about the war, which began 100 years ago.  I came across two items at WPL that I would particularly recommend.

The Illustrated History of World War One by Ian Westwell is the kind of book I like. It’s fairly comprehensive and easy to read and has more than 350 maps and photographs. I admit I like photos, they really help me grasp a situation or event.  But while the book does give a good overview of the war, unfortunately Canada is barely mentioned.

This is where I found the July/August edition of Canadian Geographic to be really excellent. Almost the entire magazine is given over to 100 ways in which the war shaped Canada.

The magazine has short as well as longer articles on all sorts of subjects: from the “temporary” introduction of income tax, to the role of women in the war, to the conscription crisis (which bitterly divided English and French Canadians and merited a much longer article, I felt) to Winnie the Pooh. Yes, Winnie the Pooh. If you are unaware of the Canadian World War One soldier/Winnie the Pooh connection, check it out. It’s fascinating.

If you want to look further into this important—and timely—topic, WPL has these and many other items on the First World War.


– – Penny D.

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What We’re Reading: Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens is a Canadian author living in Vancouver who writes thrillers. She got her start in writing while working as a realtor. You won’t want to sleep with the lights off anymore after reading one of Chevy’s books.

Always Watching


Still Missing - Annie O’Sullivan, a 32 year-old realtor is abducted from an open house. Her story weaves together the year she spent in captivity and the horrifying things she had to do to survive with the story of the events following her escape as she tries to piece her life back together.

Never Knowing - All her life Sarah Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. When she finally does locate her birth mother she is met with rejection. When the truth is revealed she learns that her mother is the only victim to ever survive an attack from a serial killer who is still on the loose and hunting women. Even worse, he has now learned that he has a daughter . . .

Always Watching - Dr. Nadine Lavoie works in the lockdown ward at a psychiatric hospital where she helps people come to terms with their past and move forward in their lives. When a suicidal patient reveals her story about living on a remote commune in Vancouver Island Nadine senses many parallels with her own life and must delve deep to find the true story and attempt to put her past to rest.

That Night -


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Waterloo Reads

Waterloo Reads 2014_1 Waterloo Reads 2014_2

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Books Made into Movies or TV series

There is no doubt that many books are snatched up by Hollywood in the hopes that they will be the next smash hit.  You only have to think of the mega-blockbusters of the Harry Potter series or True Blood to realize how profitable translating a book onto the big or small screen can be.

But is the movie or TV show as good as the book?  Readers tend to be very protective of their favourite reads when Hollywood gets their hands on them.  Personally, I think that while many movies/TV shows based on books are quite good in their own right, overwhelmingly the books tend to be better.

Here are some books that you can find at WPL that have (or will soon have) on-screen counterparts.  Why not make the best of the rest of the summer and get a head start on reading the books before the movie/TV series comes out?!


TV Series:


Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Based on the real life of a young midwife in the very tumultuous post-WWI London this series is touching, honest and humourous (thanks to dear Chummy!).  Downton Abbey fans should look into this series!

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (1st season aired on the Space channel and the 2nd season will air in early 2015).  Bitten is the first book in the very popular supernatural series by Canadian author Kelley Armstrong.  The TV version is not only really good in its own right but filmed in Cambridge, Ontario!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (premieres on Showcase August 24, 2014!) – Men in kilts, fight scenes and the swoon worthy love between Claire and Jamie make this miniseries highly anticipated by Outlander fans the world over.  As long as they cast the main characters well I think this could be an amazing TV series.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Harriot

A Game of Thrones series by George R.R Martin




Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This movie did the Herculean feat of putting the epic scope of this large and amazing book into one movie.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

When a woman goes missing on her 5th anniversary her husband fears there’s more to his wife’s disappearance than he first thought.  Look for this movie in theatres October 3, 2014!


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Silver Linings Playbook  by Matthew Quick

Horns  by Joe Hill (release date in theatres October 31, 2014)


– – Laurie P.













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Fall 2014 Featured Titles

This fall we invite you to pick up one or more of our Featured Titles, a handpicked selection of the new books you’ll find at the Waterloo Public Library. From new literary legal fiction to historical fiction, and memoir to family cooking, we think our line-up of Fall Featured Titles offers something for everyone.

Fall 2014 Featured Titles_1

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What We’re Reading: In the Mood for some YA melodrama

Every once in awhile I go through a phase of wanting to read young adult books.  Maybe its because they are predictable. Maybe its the innocence of young love. I don’t know. But, I’m going through one of those phases now . . .



The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Hazel and Augustus meet at a Cancer Kid’s support group meeting. Isn’t young love filled with enough anguish? Apparently not. Throw some cancer into the mix. The dialogue is smart and the characters believable. I might have cried a little.


The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Lucy and Owen meet in an elevator during a New York City blackout. They spend a magical night wandering around a darkened city. The next day the power is back on and they both return to the reality of their own worlds. But the pull of attraction compels them to keep in touch with one another as circumstances take them to different ends of the world. It is anyone’s guess whether they will reunite.


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

1986 Omaha. Eleanor is the new girl in town. Her bright red hair and wardrobe choices scream misfit. Although Park is from town he too feels like a misfit. They sit beside each other on the bus every day with careful indifference. Until.  They gradually bond over a shared love of music and comics. Soon they are inseparable. When Eleanor’s unstable home life gives way she must leave Park behind and move.  Can their love last?


If I Stay by G. Forman

Mia is seventeen years old and an accomplished cello player. She has applied to Julliard and is reasonably sure she will get accepted. Her boyfriend is a musician as well and is lead vocalist in a band. Life is good. One snowy day she is in the car with her parents and younger brother going to visit friends when the car is in an accident. She has no memory of the accident but watches as her body is removed from the wreckage.  She has a choice to make.  Note: Have a box of Kleenex nearby as you read this!


– – Christine B.








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What We’re Reading: Bird Box

Bird Box by Joshn Malerman

I’m not a big fan of horror, so I was a bit afraid to read this book. But I’d read a review somewhere and because it sounded interesting, I decided to try it. The novel opens with sisters Malorie and Shannon facing an uncertain future. Frightening things are happening around the world and getting geographically closer to where the sisters live. People are killing others and themselves in horrifically violent ways, with no apparent provocation. It seems related to something they’ve seen, but no one can say what that ‘something’ is. Those who remain alive start covering the windows of their homes and staying behind closed doors as much as possible. If they go out, they cover their eyes so as not to see anything provocative. When something happens to Shannon, the pregnant Malorie decides that she can’t go it alone. Led by an old advertisement, she seeks out a home that’s supposed to offer safety and sanctuary to any who want it. There she meets a small group of people trying to survive in this strange new world. They work and brainstorm together, but like any family, they have their issues. Don, in particular, has ideas that frequently clash with the others’.

Follow the characters as they face a terrifying new reality. Can anyone be trusted? Is it possible to be safe? Can people live a normal life again?

Although horrifying things happen in the book, my fear of reading a ‘horror’ was unfounded. I’d rather call this a novel of suspense, or an apocalyptic novel. There was certainly high tension on every page and you care about the characters and what  happens to them. Very well written; an excellent read for anyone, but especially for those who enjoy horror and suspense.

– – Susan B.

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What We’re Watching: A Hard Day’s Night

A Hard Day’s Night (DVD) starring The Beatles

Wow, it’s been 50 years since the release of the first– and best– Beatle film (July, 1964).

The Fab Four could so easily have made a lousy film and it wouldn’t have mattered–the fans would have flocked to the movie theatres anyway.

Instead they made a film that stands up, one that is as fresh and captivating as the day it was released. I defy anyone, Beatle fan or not, to watch “A Hard Day’s Night” and NOT get swept up and carried away by its sheer joyfulness, high spirits and cheeky humour. Not to mention the incomparable music of the incomparable Beatles.

The movie is basically two days in the lives of The Beatles. A couple of scenes epitomize the whole movie for me. The first is the opening, in which the group are chased by screaming fans through the London streets as they struggle to catch a train (to the music of that great title song). The other unforgettable scene is where John, Paul, George and Ringo break out of the TV studio and run about and cavort in an empty field (to the song “Can’t Buy Me Love”). I also love the John-in-the-bathtub scene.

So I would recommend you take a look at this film, whether you have seen it many times or not at all, whether you are a Beatle fan or not. A splendid time is guaranteed for all (Beatle allusion, see Sgt. Pepper LP).

Penny D.


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What We’re Reading: Full Dark, No Stars

Back in high school Stephen King and Dean Koontz were the cool guys to read. Something about the spine tingling horror novel was just very appealing.  Lots of action and scares.  Last month the WPL Book Club was reading Full Dark No Stars by Stephen King. I facilitate the book club, naturally I needed to read the book . . . oh my . . . Mr. King sure knows how to get minds and hearts racing.

Full Dark No Stars by Stephen King is made up of four short stories. Each of the stories contains a moral dilemma along with a fair amount of chills and thrills.


The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father.


A Good Marriage

Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage. ** I will never look at my husband the same way again.  You just can’t know what secrets people are keeping . . .


Big Driver

Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems.  But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences.


Fair Extension

Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay.

– – Christine B.


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What We’re Reading: Mystery Men

My parents loved to read.  My dad preferred to read non-fiction but my mother, she had five kids to keep track of, probably needed guaranteed relaxation from her reading material and was more likely to have a mystery in hand while I was growing up.  I loved the groovy 60s covers of her books – like The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake and she really liked Rabbi Small (by Harry Kemelman) – I really loved how she would talk about the stories she was reading.  When I pick up a new mystery novel with a little gasp of happiness (we have so many good ones here at WPL – new ones every week!) I think this enthusiasm makes sense.  I got this good feeling about reading mystery novels from her.


Where my mother was a fan of Rabbi Small my first sleuth crush was on Jim Qwilleran.  In my opinion there was nothing more satisfying than reading about that little town in the Great Lakes area of the U.S. where Qwilleran writes a column for the local paper – The Daily Fluxion.  He meanders through town, solving mysteries and caring for his friends, while making a home for two marvelous Siamese cats.  I would read those ” The Cat Who…” mysteries over and over and save special ones to reward myself for a particularly hard exam time in high school.  I still find it very hard to walk by a tall man with a mustache and not wonder if he just might be a billionaire philanthropist/journalist.  Just maybe?  On a rainy there is still a lot of comfort to be found in The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare or any one of Lillian Jackson Braun’s 25+ other novels and short stories.


Women solve mysteries also!  I know this.  I have many favourite female sleuths on my list.  Nancy Drew was my original favourite, of course.  She is still popular with junior readers in all of our locations (as is Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator, a great junior series by Jennifer Allison).  We have Aunt Dimity, Miss Marple, Miss Julia, Agatha Raisin, Katherine Hall Page, Miss Marple, and many more lining the shelves here at WPL.  So many good friends in that list but right now I am thinking about men who solve mysteries and have to mention the dashing Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  I was hooked from the first chapter of Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead and I haven’t met a single WPL patron who doesn’t share the feeling of instant dedication to the man.  He is everything we are looking for in an inspector – clever and patient while he sorts through his clues – but he is also unfailingly kind and respectful of the people he encounters during the investigation.  And James Qwilleran has his small town in the U.S. but Gamache has the charming hamlet of Three Pines.  You just can’t help but wish it really existed so you could go to that same bookstore he visits and eat those same delicious croissants.  It’s not on the map.  I have looked.  Each time Louise Penny publishes a new book in Inspector Gamache series the interest among WPL patrons is steady and the chatter as the books are returned to the desk is full of satisfaction about how he solved another impossible crime while staying true to his personal code of ethics.  For a real treat you can listen to these as audiobooks – they are just wonderful.  


A newer favourite of mine is Cormoran Strike, created by Robert Galbraith.  Poor J. K. Rowling tried to get out there and publish something different following the success of Harry Potter and didn’t receive kind treatment with The Casual Vacancy so who could blame her for trying again under a pseudonym?  Maybe that little removal from public interest in her writing allowed Rowling/Galbraith to unleash her creative gift enough to give us this winning private investigator in Cormoran Strike.  Named after a Cornish giant, he lives and works in Central London, following his return from Afghanistan where he served in the SIB.  He has that tough ex-army feel but this is blended with a better than average sense of humour and an inner monologue that gives you clues to the investigation and his personal life.  It is fantastic.  The first book in the series – The Cuckoo’s Calling – had Strike investigating the murder of a famous supermodel and in the second book, The Silkworm, (so creepy and delicious that I had to stay up late to finish it and then wished I wasn’t awake in the dark late at night) the murder is of an unpopular novelist.  In both books we have an opportunity to meet some colourful characters and this adds to the layers of detail she creates in her writing.  The streets of London come alive just as Hogwarts did.  Rowling/Galbraith delivers fascinating twists and turns in the first two books of this series so they are very satisfying mysteries.  I hope that I’ve added Cormoran Strike to the list of sleuths I’ll be following for years to come.   



- – Penny M.









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