The Leveller by Julia Durango
Nixy Bauer has a steady income provided by parents who need her to enter the MEEP, or virtual reality world, to retrieve their teenage children who should be doing their homework or getting to their jobs. But now Nixy has been asked to retrieve the son of the MEEP creator, who has apparently entered the game planning to never come out. Others have tried to find him but have failed. After negotiating a terrifying maze, Nixy finds more than the missing teen and together they have to figure out why they are trapped and how to get out.
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks
With the endorsement of the author’s family, this homage to the delightful Jeeves and Wooster characters, brought to life through the many books of P.G. Wodehouse, is true to the form. Here we find Jeeves and Wooster trading places in a complicated, if not ridiculous, effort to see a successful marriage for one of Wooster’s chums. The classic “servant seems smarter than the master” repartee makes for a very funny tale, perfect for a summer read. Reminds me that I should read more Wodehouse.
The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
1943, occupied Amsterdam. While working for a local funeral director, Hanneke, a young girl just out of high school, delivers black market goods obtained with the ration cards of the deceased. When one customer begs her to help find a missing Jewish teenager, Hanneke is drawn into a bigger black market involving the Dutch resistance. Her search ultimately leads to both sorrow and hope, in this compelling novel of the Second World War.
What’s so Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey
Christian writer Philip Yancey takes on the confounding and “amazing” idea of grace. Indeed, as he suggests, we live in a graceless time, where the never ending cycle of tit-for-tat means that grace can seldom be achieved as each new transgression requires something similar in response. Who will, rather than retaliate, apologize first? Who will break the cycle of ungrace? For nations and for individuals what is amazing is that grace can break this relentless pattern and set free all who suffer in its wake.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
It is a post-mortal age. Humans no longer die from disease or accident or even age. There is no war and no government, and instead almost everything is perfectly controlled by the “thunderhead.” But there is a problem that not even the technology in the cloud, sound familiar, can control: the growing population. The scythes exist outside the control of the thunderhead and their job is to provide balance by systematically gleaning people to keep numbers in check. They were once an honourable group, operating by a code and a system of internal laws. But now, some are using their position to gain power, and there are few of the old guard left to stop them.
Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly Macrae
Janet Marsh, her daughter and two friends have bought a bookshop in Inversgail in the Scottish highlands and are looking forward to moving permanently into their long-time vacation home there to run their shop. But when Janet finds the local advice columnist dead in her shed, the list of suspects, and motives, seems endless. Apparently no one has anything good to say about Una Graham, and suspicious behavior abounds. The twisted trail leads directly to Janet’s ex-husband, among others, as blackmail, affairs and intrigue are revealed.
The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire.
The Secret Path tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young aboriginal boy who died in 1966 while trying to escape from his residential school and travel home. As is often the case with a good graphic novel, few words are needed to tell this shocking and heartbreaking story of abuse. Lyrics from the ten songs from the album of the same name, written by Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, are interspersed with Lemire’s simple yet effective illustrations. The combination is as unique as it is powerful.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
Margaret Creasy is missing. Why? What has she learned that no one wants her to know? Told through the voices of two young girls, the disappearance has the whole street in an uproar. There are many secrets about one dark night in 1967 when Walter Bishop’s home was set alight by his neighbours determined to drive him away. But there is more to the story than any individual knows; the truth only existing in its many fractured parts. A wonderful book with many unexpected twists and turns, as well as an innocent search for God, who is rumoured to exist everywhere.