Tanya's Newest Picks

Tanya Recommends:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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From the Publisher:

From a stunning new literary voice comes a brilliant debut novel that created an international auction frenzy, with sales in twenty-seven countries to date, about a young girl growing up in extraordinary times. On a seemingly ordinary Saturday morning, Julia and her family wake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. Set against this threat to normal life, The Age of Miracles maps the effects of catastrophes big and small on the lives of ordinary people, and in particular, one young girl. Extraordinary for its original concept, unforgettable characters, and the grace, elegance and beauty of Karen Thompson Walker''s prose, The Age of Miracles is a mesmerizing story of family turmoil, young love, and coming-of-age set against an upending of life as we know it.

 

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

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From Amazon.ca:

Brimming with charm, sparkling prose and undeniably unique characters, this hilarious novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amelie.Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his pet, the oldest living tortoise, for the past eight years. That's right, he is a Beefeater. It's no easy job navigating the trials and tribulations that come with living and working in the largest tourist attraction in London. The once white-hot flame of Hebe and Balthazar's love has been snuffed in the few years since their son Milo died, a death for which Balthazar blames himself. When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen by foreign dignitaries, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, a bearded pig goes missing, giraffes are stolen, the komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives, and canaries suffer fainting fits. As he attempts to cope with this four-legged invasion and his marriage continues to crumble, Balthazar must confront the secret he has been harbouring about his son's death, if he wants to save his marriage and his sanity.
 

In the Land of Long Fingernails by Charles Wilkins

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From Amazon.ca:

During the hazy summer of 1969, Charles Wilkins, then a student at the University of Toronto, took a job as a gravedigger. The bizarre-but-true events of that time, including a midsummer gravediggers' strike, the unearthing of a victim of an unsolved murder, and a little illegal boneshifting, play out amongst a Barnumesque parade of mavericks and misfits in this macabre and hilarious memoir of mortality, materialism, and the gradual coming-of-age of an impressionable young man.

 

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl by Stacey O'Brien

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From Amazon.ca:

On Valentine's Day 1985, biologist Stacey O'Brien first met a four-day-old baby barn owl -- a fateful encounter that would turn into an astonishing 19-year saga. With nerve damage in one wing, the owlet's ability to fly was forever compromised, and he had no hope of surviving on his own in the wild. O'Brien, a young assistant in the owl laboratory at Caltech, was immediately smitten, promising to care for the helpless owlet and give him a permanent home. Wesley the Owl is the funny, poignant story of their dramatic two decades together.

With both a tender heart and a scientist's eye, O'Brien studied Wesley's strange habits intensively and first-hand -- and provided a mice-only diet that required her to buy the rodents in bulk (28,000 over the owl's lifetime). As Wesley grew, she snapped photos of him at every stage like any proud parent, recording his life from a helpless ball of fuzz to a playful, clumsy adolescent to a gorgeous, gold-and-white, macho adult owl with a heart-shaped face and an outsize personality that belied his 18-inch stature. Stacey and Wesley's bond deepened as she discovered Wesley's individual personality, subtle emotions, and playful nature that could also turn fiercely loyal and protective -- though she could have done without Wesley's driving away her would-be human suitors! O'Brien also brings us inside the prestigious research community, a kind of scientific Hogwarts where resident owls sometimes flew freely from office to office and eccentric, brilliant scientists were extraordinarily committed to studying and helping animals; all of them were changed by the animal they loved. As O'Brien gets close to Wesley, she makes important discoveries about owl behavior, intelligence, and communication, coining the term "The Way of the Owl" to describe his inclinations: he did not tolerate lies, held her to her promises, and provided unconditional love, though he was not beyond an occasional sulk. When O'Brien develops her own life-threatening illness, the biologist who saved the life of a helpless baby bird is herself rescued from death by the insistent love and courage of this wild animal.

 

The Toyminator by Robert Rankin

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From Amazon.ca:

Somewhere over the rainbow and just off the Yellow Brick Road stands Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town. And things are not going well for the city's inhabitants. There have been outbreaks of STC - Spontaneous Toy Combustion - and there are strange signs and portents in the Heavens. Preachers of Toy City's many religions are predicting that the End Times are approaching and that a Toy City Apocalypse will soon come to pass. But can this possibly be true, or is there a simple explanation - an alien invasion, for instance. With the body count rising and the forces of law and order baffled, it is the time for a hero to step forward and attempt to save the day. Well, two heroes actually, Eddie Bear, Toy City Private Eye and his loyal sidekick, Jack: our courageous twosome are about to face their biggest challenge yet, to save not only toykind, but the world of mankind too. Which should keep them out of the pub for a while.

 

They Did it With Love by Kate Morgenroth

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From Amazon.ca:

Secrets lurk under the smooth surface of a wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, until a murder reveals all.Sofie and her husband have left Manhattan in search of a more tranquil life in the suburbs. But when a member of Sofie's new neighborhood book club turns up dead, things get messy. She discovers that everybody has something to hide, including her own husband. Her neighbor Priscilla has been married to Gordon for fifteen years, but the love left their marriage a long time ago. Susan is Priscilla's biggest supporter until she has to choose between loyalty to her friend and telling the truth. Ashley is eager to fit in, but her youth and status as a second wife keep her on the outside. She may know more than they think she does, though. Julia seems to have it all--the perfect house, job and husband. But her untimely death has people questioning how perfect her life really was. Through this swamp of suburban secrets, Sofie must wade to find the truth behind Julia's murder and the state of her own marriage. They Did It with Love is a delightful, twisty, and twisted exploration of the things we'll do for love.

 

Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis

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From Amazon.ca:

Charles M. Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the least understood figures in American culture. Now, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of the brilliant, unseen man behind Peanuts: at once a creation story, a portrait of a native genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination. Schulz and Peanuts is the definitive epic biography of an American icon and the unforgettable characters he created.

 

Fables: Legends in Exile Volume 1 by Bill Willingham

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From Amazon.ca:

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

 

Y: The Last Man Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

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From Barnes and Noble:

In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome— with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 million men.Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 335, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with his girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he's the only man to survive. Collecting the first story arc of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's masterly new Vertigo series, Y: The Last Man: Unmanned brings to vivid life the age-old speculation: What would really happen to the last man on Earth?

 

The Guernsey and Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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From Amazon.ca:

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

 

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

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From Amazon.ca:

Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life. The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious new series featuring the Spellman family in all its lovable chaos.

 

Out of my Mind by Andy Rooney

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From Amazon.ca:

Every Sunday evening, millions of viewers tune in to 60 Minutes to hear Andy Rooney riff on everything from coffee percolators to the state of the union. Millions more read his weekly newspaper column. Why? Because Rooney tells it like it is. But Rooney fans have never seen him quite like this. Andy Rooney is plain frustrated by what's going on in America and the world. Why can't Americans—let alone our president—speak English anymore? How do we expect to fight a terrorist enemy that we can't even locate? And when did capitalism go so terribly wrong? This book isn't all heady stuff, though. Readers will also get the familiar—and hysterical—Rooney gripes about everyday foibles, such as the impossibility of physically locating your driver's registration, of purchasing a genuinely healthy breakfast cereal, or of enjoying a college reunion—unless everyone ends up in their nighties, that is. PublicAffairs is pleased to present its fifth collaboration with Andy Rooney. Loyal Rooney fans and anyone who enjoys a good laugh at life's absurdities will be thrilled to add it to the bookshelf during the holidays.

 

The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy  

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From Amazon.ca:

Growing up, Kenly Lowen’s life was shaped around a widowed alcoholic father who made it clear that he never wanted her in the first place. She emerged from childhood determined to find happiness. Today, at thirty-two, Kenly has a husband and a son who mean the world to her; the kind of life she always dreamed of having.
When her closest childhood friend dies, Kenly is given an old tin box they once shared – a tin box they hid on the roof of a tree house fifteen years earlier. Inside is a secret she has kept for years. To reveal it could end her marriage and shatter her world, but can she continue to shoulder the weight of years of silence? Kenly’s is a story filled with heartbreak, tragedy, and hope. In a small town filled with hidden treasures, young Kenly discovers people who change her life. From terminally ill Tommy, who loves her, to old Max, who shows her that a fire pit is sometimes the best medicine, to edgy Lexie, who believes life should be lived, The Tin Box will take Kenly on an unforgettable journey. The decision she finally makes will test the ties that bind people together against a wound that could tear them apart.The Tin Box is an achingly beautiful novel of one woman’s desire to save all that she loves while honoring the past that made her into the woman she is.
 

 

A Crime in the Neighbourhood by Suzanne Berne

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From Amazon.com:

An auspicious debut novel by a young writer who will remind readers of Anne Lamott and Anne Tyler. Crime in the Neighborhood centers on a headline event-- the molestation and murder of a twelve-year-old boy in a Washington, D.C., suburb. At the time of the murder, 1973, Marsha was nine years old and as an adult she still remembers that summer as a time when murder and her own family's upheaval were intertwined. Everyone, it seemed to Marsha at the time, was committing crimes. Her father deserted his family to take up with her mother's younger sister. Her teenage brother and sister were smoking and shoplifting, and her mother was "flirting" with Mr. Green, the new next-door neighbor. Even the president of the United States seemed to be a crook. But it is Marsha's own suspicions about who committed this crime that has the town up in arms and reveals what happens when fear runs wild.

 

Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

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From Amazon.ca:

A stunning new novel about three generations of a family haunted by love from the bestselling author of Practical Magic and Here onEarth. Arlyn Singer believes in destiny and in love.But fate seems to be playing a trick on the night when John Moody knocks onher door to ask for directions. Opposites who cannot understand each other,they are drawn to one another even when it's clear they're bound to bringeach other grief. Their marriage is dangerous territory, tracing a map noone should follow. It leads them and their children to the Connecticutcountryside, the avenues in Manhattan, the blue waters of the Long IslandSound, all in a search for family and identity.There is Sam, the brilliant explosive artist who is drawn toself-destruction and dreams. Blanca, the beautiful loner who triesdesperately to protect her brother from his destiny and lives her own lifein a world of books. And Will, the grandson, who is left a legacy of brokenpieces he needs to put together, an emotional and mysterious puzzle made upof people who don't know the first thing about love.Here is a family so real, so tragic, so devoted it is as if they havewritten their own riveting history--a quest for love and truth. Glassbreaks, love hurts, and families make their own rules. SKYLIGHT CONFESSIONSis a luminous and elegant work of true originality. No one who reads thisnovel will ever forget it or look at their own family in quite the sameway.

 

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

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From Amazon.ca: 

In this eagerly awaited new novel, Lionel Shriver, the Orange Prize-winning author of the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, delivers an imaginative and entertaining look at the implications, large and small, of whom we choose to love. Using a playful parallel-universe structure, The Post-Birthday World follows one woman's future as it unfolds under the influence of two drastically different men.

Children's book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid. Until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton. The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly the texture of her daily life. Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina's alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver's exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver's work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.

 

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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From Amazon.ca:

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart.Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg. Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.
 

 

The Husband by Dean Koontz

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From Amazon.ca:

With each and every new novel, Dean Koontz raises the stakes—and the pulse rate—higher than any other author. Now, in what may be his most suspenseful and heartfelt novel ever, he brings us the story of an ordinary man whose extraordinary commitment to his wife will take him on a harrowing journey of adventure, sacrifice, and redemption to the mystery of love itself—and to a showdown with the darkness that would destroy it forever.
What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill? We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash. Landscaper Mitchell Rafferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was in the middle of planting impatiens in the yard of one of his clients when his cell phone rang. Now he’s standing in a normal suburban neighborhood on a bright summer day, having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmare. Whoever is on the other end of the line is dead serious. He has Mitch’s wife and he’s named the price for her safe return. The caller doesn’t care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He’s confident that Mitch will find a way. If he loves his wife enough. . . Mitch does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He’s got seventy-two hours to prove it. He has to find the two million by then. But he’ll pay a lot more. He’ll pay anything. From its tense opening to its shattering climax, The Husband is a thriller that will hold you in its relentless grip for every twist, every shock, every revelation…until it lets you go, unmistakably changed. This is a Dean Koontz novel, after all. And there’s no other experience quite like it.

 

The Dishwasher by Pete Jordan

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From Amazon.ca:

Dishwasher is the true story of a man on a mission: to clean dirty dishes professionally in every state in America. Part adventure, part parody, and part miraculous journey of self-discovery, it is the unforgettable account of Pete Jordan's transformation from itinerant seeker into "Dishwasher Pete"—unlikely folk hero, writer, publisher of his own cult zine, and the ultimate professional dish dog—and how he gave it all up for love.

 

Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me by Martin Millar

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From Amazon.com:

Glasgow, 1972. All the coolest kids in town are lining up for Led Zeppelin tickets. Overhead, a Zeppelin approaches. Its passengers—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Hank Williams—think it’s worth leaving heaven to see the greatest rock band in the world. Even the fairies are fans. Meanwhile, nerdy Martin and his equally nerdy best friend Greg have overactive imaginations. When they aren’t fighting the monstrous hordes of Xotha, they are competing for the attentions of a popular (read: unattainable) girl named Suzy. She’s not likely to ditch Zed, the hippest boy in the school, for the likes of them, is she? Then again, with Led Zeppelin on the way, it feels like anything can happen. Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me takes readers on a ride through Martin’s angsty and fumbling youth, when Led Zeppelin comes to Glasgow and rocks Martin’s world, and through his angstridden and fumbling adult years, when he learns what can’t be denied: love may break your heart, but Led Zeppelin will never let you down.

 

Reading the OED by Ammon Shea

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From Amazon.ca:

An obsessive word lover's account of reading the Oxford English Dictionary cover to cover. "I'm reading the OED so you don't have to. If you are interested in vocabulary that is both spectacularly useful and beautifully useless, read on..."

So reports Ammon Shea, the tireless, word-obsessed, and more than slightly masochistic author of Reading the OED. The word lover's Mount Everest, the OED has enthralled logophiles since its initial publication 80 years ago. Weighing in at 137 pounds, it is the dictionary to end all dictionaries. In 26 chapters filled with sharp wit, sheer delight, and a documentarian's keen eye, Shea shares his year inside the OED, delivering a hair-pulling, eye-crossing account of reading every word, and revealing the most obscure, hilarious, and wonderful gems he discovers along the way.

 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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From Amazon.ca:

The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece. A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

 

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

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From Amazon.ca:

Most books about the environment build on dire threats warning of the possible extinction of humanity. Alan Weisman avoids frightening off readers by disarmingly wiping out our species in the first few pages of this remarkable book. He then continues with an astounding depiction of how Earth will fare once we're no longer around. The World Without Us is a one-of-a-kind book that sweeps through time from the moment of humanity's future extinction to millions of years into the future. Drawing on interviews with experts and on real examples of places in the world that have already been abandoned by humans--Chernobyl, the Korean DMZ and an ancient Polish forest--Weisman shows both the shocking impact we've had on our planet and how impermanent our footprint actually is.

 

Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken by Michael Calce

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From Amazon.ca:

In early 2000, the websites of CNN, Yahoo, E*Trade, Dell, Amazon, and eBay ground to a halt for several hours, causing panic everywhere from the White House to suburbia and around the world. After 2 months and hundreds of hours of wiretapping, the FBI and RCMP staged a late-night raid to apprehend the most wanted man in cyberspace--a 15-year-old kid,Mafiaboy. 8 years later, Mafiaboy, a.k.a.Michael Calce, has ignored requests from every major media outlet in North America and has not told a word of his story--until now. Using his experience as a cautionary tale, Calce takes the reader through the history of hacking and how it has helped make the internet the new frontier for crime in the 21st century.

 

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter

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From Amazon.ca:

How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa. Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director, Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, (for a cat) and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most. As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.