Author Archives: jroberts14

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde



Published in 2009 and classified under the genres of fantasy fiction / science fiction, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is a far cry from other books with similar titles. Fforde is best known for his ongoing Thursday Next series and fans will find his standard flair in this dystopian tale. The story takes place in Chromatacia, where your social status and standard of living is dictated by your ability (or lack of ability) to see natural colour. As an example, Eddie Russet can only see red; meaning that every other natural colour appears grey to him and he only sees other colours (blue, yellow, purple, etc) by means of artificial enhancements to those items as produced by the national colour grid.

Jasper Fforde

Chromatacia exists at least 500 years in the future after some sort of disaster wipes out current civilization. The population is governed by the rules of Munsell, which include some truly bizarre decrees such as a ban on spoon manufacturing. The entire place is highly complicated and convoluted, making for much more entertaining reading then it would reality. Protagonist Eddie Russet gets sent to the outer fringes to perform a chair census and in the process enters into a plot to break down the colour boundaries and work towards a more cohesive society.

Fforde incorporates wit, whimsy, revolution, and more into this engaging piece of fiction. With two more books slated to pick up where Shades of Grey ends, there is sure to be plenty more to look forward to from Jasper Fforde in the future.







City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong


Werewolves, witches, and omens….are exactly what you won’t find in the newest series by supernatural queen Kelley Armstrong. She is best known for series’ such as Otherworld and Cainsville but with City of the Lost she takes a hard turn away from her signature style and ventures into murder mystery completely based in the human realm. This series is also referred to as the Rockton series or the Casey Duncan series in reference to the central locale and character.

Rockton is a town of last resorts and only accepts a select few. You won’t find it on any map or website and to become a resident you must apply to town council for approval, and even that comes with a limited term for your stay there. Imagine walking away from everything and everyone you know and disappearing into the Yukon to live without any luxuries or conveniences of modern urban life. It is supposed to be a safe haven for those with nowhere else to run – but recently the town has experienced its first murder. Enter Casey Duncan, a homicide detective with a secretive past and every reason to go off the grid. She arrives with her best friend who carries her own fair share of secrets and soon the action really gets going.

This should definitely be on your spring reading list – even if you haven’t been an Armstrong fan in the past but enjoy thrillers and murder mysteries.

On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle


What could be better than curling up on a grey morning with a steaming mug and a cozy mystery! Possibly the only improvement to be made would be if that cozy mystery were focused on the world of coffee. Thankfully, and this is in no way a spoiler, the coffee plays no direct part in the murder. It does play a pivotal role in setting the groundwork for the Coffeehouse Mystery series; about the Village Blend coffeehouse in New York, its staff and the many adventures swirling like an intricate piece of latte art.

Clare Cosi manages the day to day operations of the Village Blend – a business steeped in history and no stranger to drama over the years. She arrives to work one day to find her assistance manager has been killed. The police come and go in what appears to be a simple accidental death case; but Clare is convinced there is something else going on and, like any truly dedicated and well caffeinated gumshoe, she gets to work.


This first book in the series brings the reader all the elements you would expect in a cozy mystery. And for the readers who love all things coffee, it brings even more with information and advice that proves its author has certainly done her research into the coffee industry. So far I have read two books from this series and have 14 left to go. Time to put on the coffee pot and settle in for a cozy Sunday morning!



Jesse Roberts –

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett




Intrigue, moral turmoil and scandal are integral elements to many a great novel. Turns out they are also central to the plot of book thievery. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much dives right into the industry of rare book dealers and the sentiments that drive people to steal from them. It also serves as a biography of sorts for John Gilkey, the man who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in books and rare documents prior to his arrest in 2010. At times it is hard to remember that this book is in fact not a work of fiction but steeped in actual events and real people. In this book Allison Hoover Bartlett allots equal focus to the fascinating justifications constructed by Gilkey in his pursuit of his self proclaimed business transactions and to the impact upon the industry as a whole from the dealers’ perspective. This will be a worthwhile read for fans of true crime, books about books, and biographies. Actually, I would recommend it to anyone in need of a book that they can lose themselves in. It is available through the Thunder Bay Public Library in print, large-print and online via Hoopla – just make sure to bring it back to us when you’re done!

Jesse Roberts –

Book of Speculation by Ericka Swyler


This book was picked up and read on a whim based entirely on the title and cover art. Yes, I judged a book by its cover and am very glad that I did. It takes a wild combination of libraries, books, mermaids, and carnivals and twists it all into an intriguing tale. With a mysterious book at its centre, this story is told around the experiences of two young men – Simon, a librarian struggling to keep his life, work and home all standing at the same time and Amos, a wild boy turned tarot reader and a complicated love life. The story is told from a mixed perspective: the present day as Simon looks back through the previously unknown saga of his family line and in the past during Amos’ youthful struggle with a less than full understanding of who he is or will become.


The Book of Speculation is the first novel from Erika Swyler (author, illustrator, and self declared appreciator of bunnies). According to her website, she has a follow-up to this story in the works. Swyler’s work is reminiscent of The Night Circus, just with less magic and more quirkiness. The Book of Speculation will make a great addition to your summer reading list, especially for anyone who secretly dreamt of becoming a mermaid when they grew up. And don’t forget the value in serendipitous discovery among the shelves and displays at the public library!


The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear


caremanagementWhen I first saw that Jacqueline Winspear had a new book coming out I assumed it was the next in the Maisie Dobbs series and immediately placed a hold through the Thunder Bay Public Library. To my surprise, The Care and Management of Lies has nothing to do with Maisie Dobbs. While they share similarities in style and historical nature, this book stands strong all on its own. The story is told from alternate perspectives – those of Kezia, Thea and Tom. With strong ties between the main characters, this book has a natural rhythm and is an extremely easy read. Do not mistake that to mean the content and writing are not to be taken seriously. All three characters share their individual and joint experiences on the front and at home during World War One.

With her husband at war, Kezia must maintain the farm and home that they share together. Thea finds redemption in aiding the wounded at the front lines, while Tom battles to stay alive amidst the fear and loneliness that are salved with letters from home. An unexpected feature of this book is that it will also appeal to those interested in reading about food and cooking.  Available in print, ebook, and eaudiobook, this is a wonderful addition to historical fiction focused on the Great War.

Jesse Roberts –

Rare Birds by Edward Riche


You don’t have to be a bird watcher to fall in love with Rare Birds. This is actually one of the few books that, in my opinion, got turned into an equally entertaining film (2001 starring Rare-BirdsWilliam Hurt and Molly Parker). The book revolves around the plight of The Auk…a restaurant owned by main character Dave Purcell, and named after a rare bird. The restaurant sits atop a remote cliff on the shores of Newfoundland, a location that proves bad for business. The business, along with Dave’s mental health, is failing fast but may just find salvation in the schemes of Dave’s unlikely friend Phonse. From there the story spirals into a deliciously appalling blend of passion and illicit antics.

With a fair share of graphic language, Rare Birds is witty and ridiculous in ways that will have you laughing out loud and get your stomach rumbling for a good meal. I will admit that I watched the movie first before reading the book, and as usual I consider the latter more to my taste. This is a story that is at both ludicrous but wonderful. There are conspiracy theories all over the place, of all shapes and sizes; along with likeable characters and a sharp wit.

Jesse Roberts –