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Warm Up to Winter

We've sorted through November's stacks to suggest the best 10 fiction books to crack / BY Nathalie Atkinson / November 1st, 2020


As the days get shorter this month, fall back into the pages one of the many new pacey Canadian reads out this month, from longtime Western political journalist Mark Lisac’s latest ‘90s-set political thriller Image Decay to Sarah Fox’s latest literary pub mystery The Malt in Our Stars and a new Father Christmas cozy mystery from C.C. Benison. Here are our best November fiction picks.

 Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

When we last saw feisty Grandma Mazur she had married a mobster, but he died on their wedding night. The inventive Evanovich, 77, is back with a welcome dose of escapism through her swashbuckling heroine Stephanie Plum, who is more sarcastic than ever in sticky situations. The hapless bounty hunter’s love triangle with cop Morelli and dark horse Ranger continues, and her sidekick Lula remains perpetually hungry, but that takes a backseat as she tries to keep her grandmother safe while low-rent mobsters search for her late husband’s treasure in and around the strip malls of New Jersey. (Nov. 3)


2Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

Curiosity about a species of golden beetle first spotted in 1914 inspires Margery Benson, a disenchanted 40-something home economics teacher, to abandon her classroom and hit the road. Her advertisement for a companion to join her as she researches the insect in New Caledonia – an island in the South Pacific – arrives in the form of eccentric Enid. Joyce’s debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, chronicled the journey of a man who walked hundreds of miles to see an old friend; here she explores the value of friendship and sense of purpose in the lives of the so-called “leftover women” in the wake of the Second World War as they embark on a far-flung journey. (Nov. 10)


3Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

The warring siblings of Succession come to mind in the description of Nugent’s latest intrigue, except these brothers are competing for the affection and attention of an imperious matriarch. The narrative flashes back and forth to crucial incidents in the 1970s and 1980s – their teen years – in this delicious psychological suspense. The question is, when all three are unreliable narrators, whose story do you believe? (Nov. 10)


4Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This follow-up to Magpie Murders is as fast-moving and complex as you’d expect from the prolific screenwriter, who’s not only an alumnus of Midsommer Murders and the creator of the British TV series Foyle’s War, but has written several crime series and been tapped for authorized novels by the estates of Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming. In Magpie Murders, London books editor Susan Ryeland solved the murder of her author Alan Conway through his work. Here she has semi-retired in Crete and runs a small tourist hotel (not altogether successfully), but must return to England and re-investigate village secrets surrounding a past murder. Soon Ryeland is a guest at a stately Suffolk inn where her bothersome late author and his fictional detective Atticus Pund rear up again. Horowitz uses the same novel-within-a-novel to uncover the roman à clef elements Pund stole from the real-life murder to solve it. (Nov. 10)

 


5Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar

If the name rings a bell, it’s because von Ziegesar is the author of the book series that gave rise to the teen TV series Gossip Girl. She’s back with a caustic look at inter-parental relations that orbit a public school in Brooklyn. With a plot about the secrets hidden by infighting and competitive parents, no wonder this darkly comic dramedy of Gen-X failures reckoning with the TikTok generation has earned the novel comparisons to Liane Moriarty and Tom Perrotta. (Nov. 10)


6Why the Rock Falls by J.E. Barnard

The third installment in Barnard’s Arthur Ellis Award-winning Falls mystery series has a dramatic setting: the Alberta foothills, with all the scenery and threat of eco-protesters that entails. Questions of greed, inheritance and paternity come into play and must be solved by Lacey, a former RCMP officer with PTSD who’s left both the force and an abusive marriage, and Jan, an art curator. Barnard lays the ground with character development before plunging into breathless adventure with the murder and the disappearance of a wealthy cattle and oil baron that involves perilous climbs in the Ghost River Wilderness Area. Expect a striking true portrait of the disabling and complex illness, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome, as Jan progresses from housebound to making her way back to the career she loves. (Nov. 14)


7I Am Ariel Sharon by Yara El-Ghadban

The tale opens in January 2006 in Tel Aviv where, in real life, the Israeli prime minister is felled by a stroke a few months before the election and falls into an eight-year coma. From here, Palestinian-Quebecker El-Ghadban’s provocative novel imagines Sharon’s interior consciousness with inventive points of view. Beginning with his mother Vera, he’s visited by women – including his wives Lily and Gali – but not at his bedside. They come through the soothing voice of his nurse, and address the man known as the grandfather of the nation with recriminations about his personal and political transgressions, as well as his crimes against humanity, like a haunting Greek chorus. (Nov. 17)

 


8Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton

Canadian novelist Hilton’s new novel tracks a year in the life of feminist icon Lydia Hennessey and her extended family, including her three adult daughters and their families. Reviewers have likened Hilton’s witty and deeply observant writing to Nora Ephron and she covers the same ground – it’s a complicated tangle of midlife identity crises, teen rebellion, aging bodies, divorce and insecurities. In this case, picture a messier Gloria Steinem by way of King Lear. (Nov. 24)

 


9Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Cline’s debut novel, the science-fiction phenomenon Ready Player One, spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list before it was adapted for film by Steven Spielberg in 2018. Two is set in the same dystopian future, where a multiplayer virtual reality game called OASIS reigns, and it is another quest steeped in ‘80s pop culture nostalgia (Atari, Dungeons & Dragons). But the highly anticipated sequel’s plot synopsis had been a closely guarded secret until Cline offered a teaser in his panel at New York Comic Con: Hero Wade finds another technological advancement left by the video game’s billionaire creator that will make OASIS even more addictive, and now there’s a new foe. “Not only the virtual universe at stake but the fate of humanity itself,” according to Cline’s big reveal. (Nov. 24)


10Pianos and Flowers: Brief Encounters of the Romantic Kind by Alexander McCall Smith

Each of these affecting short stories was inspired by images from The Sunday Times photographic archive, without knowing the identity or context of the people featured in them. They have all the charm that McCall Smith, who writes the wildly popular No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and other series, is known for: He created stories based on what he imagined the pictures in the British newspaper’s vaults depicted. “That is the joy of looking at photographs this way,” the author says in the preface, “from the tiniest visual clue we can create a whole hinterland of experience – of love, of hope, of simply being human.” (Dec. 1)


THE SCROLL

Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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