Local Books For Your Winter Reading Pleasure

From time to time I like to give a shout out to some authors and their books. It’s been awhile. Actually, longer than I thought once I got looking back on old posts. Since I do like local (as many of you know) this shout out is for some local books that have recently come onto my radar. I wanted to mention books that I hadn’t previously mentioned on my blog, books that are new to me! From picture books to novels, I really don’t care. A book is a book no matter what age you are. I hope you’ll check some of these books out this winter when you’re curled up by the fire on a cold blustery night.

Explosion Newsie by Jacqueline Halsey.

imagesOn December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the busy wartime harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The resulting explosion was the biggest man-made blast prior to the development of nuclear weapons. It flattened one fifth of the city. Thousands of people were killed that day and thousands more injured or made homeless. One lucky survivor, ten-year-old newsie Macky, has a key job to do — get the news out.

The beautiful and compelling illustrations in this book help tell the story of what it was like to be a working child of ten in the city that day. Macky, an unreliable and fun-loving boy, has to deliver the news to a confused and wrecked city where the only way to know what happened to missing loved ones was to read the local newspaper.

Red Coat Brigade by Vernon Oickleimages (1)

On a warm, beautiful sunny day in June 1782, the women and young children of the village of Chester come together to defend their still-fledgling settlement against the invading and much more well-armed Americans. Armed only with their cunning and imagination, this rag-tag group of settlers pushed back the marauding intruders without the loss of a single life. In this fictional account of those events, veteran author Vernon Oickle weaves facts and legend to tell a story that has become part of Nova Scotia’s heritage and folklore.

 

These Good Hands by Carol Bruneau

downloadSet in the early autumn of 1943, the These Good Hands interweaves the biography of French sculptor Camille Claudel and the story of the nurse who cares for her during the final days of her thirty-year incarceration in France’s Montdevergues Asylum. Biographers have suggested that Claudel survived her long internment by writing letters, few of which left the asylum because of her strict sequestration; in Bruneau’s novel, these letters are reimagined in a series, penned to her younger self, the sculptor, popularly known as Rodin’s tragic mistress. They trace the trajectory of her career in Belle Époque Paris and her descent into the stigmatizing illness that destroyed it. The nurse’s story is revealed in her journal, which describes her labours and the ethical dilemma she eventually confronts. Through her letters, Camille relives the limits of her perseverance, and through her journal, Nurse confronts the limits of hers; these limits include the faith these women have in themselves, in the then-current advances in psychiatric medicine, and in a God whose existence is challenged by the war raging outside the enclosed world of the asylum. In her dying days, Camille teaches the nurse lessons in compassion and, ultimately, in what it means to endure.

Lonely Angels by Heather D. Veinotte

As a medium, Kelsey Gordon has had to deal with people’s distain of her gifts for most of her life. 51RqiF2VF7L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Through her firm, “Gordon’s Agency” she’s been hired by the Mayor’s Task Force of the city of Bridgeview to help find three little girls that have vanished without a trace. As soon as she’s introduced to the very handsome Lieutenant Jake Carson, she feels his contempt for what she stands for and realizes that this assignment will not be an easy one. The murderer must be found, but she knows if she and Jake work together, her heart will be lost to a man who detests what she is. Lieutenant Jake Carson is stunned to learn that his uncle has hired a medium to work on the task force when he knew what his nephew thought of so called psychics. Anyone who declares that they have psychic powers are the lowest life form on the planet, but Jake has no choice but to work with her. To make matters worse, he can’t keep his eyes off of this beautiful, but phony Kelsey Gordon. Time is running out. Kelsey’s life is threatened by the murderer and to complicate the situation they’re fighting the sexual cord that’s pulling them closer.

Random Acts By Valerie Sherrard

download (1)In the haze of a food-induced stupor, Zoey Dalton and her best friends Bean and Jenna make a pledge to begin performing random acts of kindness—anonymously. Their previous track record for altruism is pretty much a flat line, so anything they do to help others is bound to be an improvement.

Or is it?

What if the random acts of kindness are unwanted and misunderstood? What if, instead of spreading joy and good will, the trio’s actions stir up trouble, wreak havoc and maybe even cause bodily harm? That, of course, would be a different story.

This story, in fact.

Scotia Sinker by Alison Delory

download (2)Cameron and Erin take a new adventure in their cardboard box — this time, to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean! In Lunar Lifter, the first story in their adventure-packed series, they used magic markers to transform their box into a spaceship that took them to the moon. Now, when they find their damaged Lunar Lifter on the beach, they use their remaining pens to repair and transform it into a small submarine called Scotia Sinker. Their new adventure pulls them far from home, deep into the ocean’s wild waters where many thrills and threats await. Here, Cameron and Erin need all their bravery, wits and the help of some interesting aquatic friends to outrun a fearsome predator.

 

Just Beneath My Skin by Darren Greer

download (3)In the small town of North River, every day that goes by bleeds into the next. Poverty begets hopelessness, hopelessness breeds violence, violence causes despair. The only way to change fate, a minister tells his son, is to leave. The minister’s son, Jake MacNeil, chooses to ignore his father’s advice. Only when he realizes what has become of his life – working a grueling dead-end job, living with a drunk, friends with a murderer – does he decide to make something of himself. But nothing comes without a cost: in choosing freedom, Jake abandons his own son, Nathan, to the care of the boy’s abusive mother. Years later, a reformed Jake comes back for Nathan, to finally set things right. But in North River, everything comes around again; and when a dangerous figure from the past becomes hell-bent on dragging the new Jake “back down where he belongs”, three generations of MacNeil men must come together to pay the full price of hope. Gritty, unrelenting, yet peppered with Darren Greer’s trademark mix of wit and poignance, Just Beneath My Skin is the work of an author at the height of his game.

Grist by Linda Little

download (4)“This is the story of how you were loved,” Penelope MacLaughlin whispers to her granddaughter. Penelope MacLaughlin marries a miller and gradually discovers he is not as she imagined. Nonetheless she remains determined to make the best of life at the lonely mill up the Gunn Brook as she struggles to build a home around her husband’s eccentricities. His increasing absence leaves Penelope to run the mill herself, providing her with a living but also destroying the people she loves most. Penelope struggles with loss and isolation, and suffers the gradual erosion of her sense of self. A series of betrayals leaves her with nothing but the mill and her determination to save her grandchildren from their disturbed father. While she can prepare her grandsons for independence, her granddaughter is too young and so receives the greater gift: the story that made them all.

Somewhere I Belong by Glenna Jenkins

download (5)In Somewhere I Belong, we meet young P.J. Kavanaugh at North Boston Station. His father has died, the Depression is on, and his mother is moving them back home. They settle in, and P.J. makes new friends. But the P.E.I. winter is harsh, the farm chores endless, and his teacher a drunken bully. He soon wants to go home; the problem is how.

A letter arrives from Aunt Mayme announcing a Babe Ruth charity baseball game in the old neighbourhood. But Ma won’t let him go. P.J is devastated. The weeks pass, then there is an accident on the farm. P.J. becomes a hero and Ma changes her mind. He travels to Boston, sees his friends, watches Babe Ruth hit a home run, and renews his attachment to the place. But his eagerness to return to the Island makes him wonder where he really belongs.

Amazing Grace by Lesley Crewe

download (6)Can you really move forward without putting the past to rest?

Grace Willingdon has everything she needs. For fifteen years she’s lived in a trailer overlooking Bras d’Or Lakes in postcard-perfect Baddeck, Cape Breton, with Fletcher Parsons, a giant teddy bear who’s not even her husband. But Grace’s blissful life is rudely interrupted when her estranged son calls from New York City, worried about his teenaged daughter.

Before she knows it, Grace finds herself the temporary guardian of her self-absorbed, city-slicker granddaughter, Melissa. Trapped between a past she’s been struggling to resolve and a present that keeps her on her toes, Grace decides to finally tell her story. Either the truth will absolve her, or cost her everything.

Crackling with Lesley Crewe’s celebrated wit and humour, Amazing Grace is a heartfelt tale of enduring love and forgiveness, and the deep roots of family.

Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to take some of these books out for a test drive this winter. You might be amazed at how much local talent we have here in the Maritimes. Keep warm and Happy Reading! If you’d like to give a shout out to a local book in the comment section please do. I love promoting local. 

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It’s Not Always About Me

Long before I ever had a book published it seemed important to me to support other authors. So you can imagine my glee when little by little I began to meet and get to know some of them! I’ll admit that many moons ago it didn’t seem so important to me, even way back when I was writing and publishing some of my stories in literary magazine. But then something changed and I don’t exactly know what. I started to realize that celebrating the success of other authors is also a way of celebrating my own success. Once I figured that out I  really started to feel like an author. And when I started to feel like an author, more and more opportunities came my way. I began to have work published in those literary magazines that, in the beginning, seemed so far out of reach as I wondered if I’d ever write to their standards. Things were looking up.

I’ve got to tell you, life can’t be all about me…me…me. And it shouldn’t be. No one likes a self-centred author no more than a self-centred human being. And so, because it’s not all about me, nor should it be, it’s time for me to give a shout-out for some books I’ve either read or plan to read in the near future. It’s a combination of kids and adult books from authors I’ve met in real life or from the blogging community.  Hopefully, a little something for everyone.. Enjoy!

Rain Shadow - CoverRain Shadow by Valerie Sherrard
Bethany knows that she is special. She doesn’t learn things as easily as her classmates do and that sometimes makes them mean to her. They call her names — including the really “bad” name. Even her mom and her sister Mira say unkind things at times. But Bethany has friends like her neighbour Mrs. Goldsborough as well as happy times with Daddy when he gets home from work. And now, Mira has promised to protect her from the bullies when the new school year begins. Then tragedy strikes, tearing Bethany’s world apart in way she could never have imagined, and she starts to wonder if there will ever be a place that feels like home again. For fans of The Gory Wing , this book is set in the fictitious town of Junction, Manitoba (setting for The Glory Wind) in this story.

I love the cover of this book! To find out more about Valerie and her many book, check out her blog. Here.

 

tumblr_ndsrj3YMpD1rzzbp4o1_500Gertrude at the Beach by Starr Dobson

Everyone’s favourite goat, Gertrude Allawishes, is back! School is out for the summer, and Starr and her family—even Gertrude—are heading to the cottage. Starr’s mom is worried Gertrude will get into trouble. But it isn’t long before Gertrude proves she is one loyal goat and saves the day.

Many of you know Starr Dobson, co-host of Live at Five for a number of years. This is a follow up to her popular picture book, My Goat Gertrude. The illustrations for this picture book are beautiful. To find out more about the artist , Dayle  Dodwell check out her site Here

 

9781771082570MacLean by  Allan Donaldson

This book is a reprinting and was originally published a few years back. It’s on my TBR list simply because I enjoyed his book, “The Case Against Owen Williams” so much.

Twenty-five years after the Great War, John Maclean is still struggling to carve out a meaningful existence in his small New Brunswick hometown.

One late summer day he embarks on a seemingly prosaic search for a little money, a little booze, and a birthday gift for his mother. But he’s haunted by memories—of war, of his cruel father, of opportunities wasted and lost—and each moment is shadowed by his bleak history. Shell-shocked and alcoholic, Maclean is divided between a lonely present and a violent past.

 

FC COVER--smFollowing Chelsea by Shari Green

Walking in the footsteps of a dead girl isn’t easy.

After her social life flatlines, seventeen-year-old Anna Richards wants nothing more than to lie low at her new school. But it seems Anna looks an awful lot like Chelsea, the sweet and popular girl who recently died, and Anna finds herself stepping into the void created by Chelsea’s absence.

Anna is determined to make the awkward situation work in her favor, because Chelsea didn’t just leave a spot open with the in-crowd; she also left a gorgeous—and now available—boyfriend. But it turns out that following Chelsea might be a lot more complicated than Anna expected.

I met Shari a few years back through WordPress and am so excited for publication of her first book. You can check out her site here.

 

evbishop_biggerthings_200pxBigger Things by Ev Bishop.

Best friends since childhood, Jen, Chelsea and Kyra know everything about each other. Or think they do.

Jen should be celebrating her whopping 121-pound weight loss. Instead she feels like she’s betrayed fat girls everywhere. Will anyone love her for who she is inside, fat or thin? More importantly, will she?

Chelsea appears to have it all—a husband, a family, a beautiful home—but plaguing memories threaten to destroy everything. In her desperation to maintain control, will she succumb to a compulsion that costs her life?

Kyra is sick of the superficial persona she’s worn for so long. It’s exhausting to pretend to be an airhead while running a successful business. But if she sheds her life-of-the-party façade, will she ever find the boyfriend she thinks she needs?

When a nervous breakdown leaves one of them fighting to survive, all their secrets are laid bare. To stay friends, they need to battle personal dragons, confront the past, and embrace change. But can they break free from the roles they’ve played so long? Or must they leave one another behind in order to move forward?

Click here to find out more about Ev and how to order Bigger Things.

alongthewayhome-christicorbett-453x680Along the Way Home by Christi Corbett

Kate Davis is intrigued when her father reveals his dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory. Settlers out west value a strong woman, and though she manages the financials of her father’s mercantile her competence earns her ridicule, not respect, from Virginia’s elite society. 

Jake Fitzpatrick, an experienced trail guide, wants land out west to raise cattle and crops. But dreams require money and he’s eating dandelion greens for dinner. So when a wealthy businessman offers double wages to guide his family across the Oregon Trail, Jake accepts with one stipulation—he is in complete control.

Departure day finds Kate clinging to her possessions as Jake demands she abandon all he deems frivolous, including her deceased mother’s heirlooms. Jake stands firm, refusing to let the whims of a headstrong woman jeopardize the wages he so desperately needs—even a beautiful one with fiery green eyes and a temper to match.

Trail life is a battle of wills between them until tragedy strikes, leaving Jake with an honor-bound promise to protect her from harm and Kate with a monumental choice—go back to everything she’s ever known or toward everything she’s ever wanted? Christi is also a blogging friend. Check out Christi’s WordPress site Here

downloadRocket Man by Jan Coates

If only Bob could go back to being the Mr. Invisible of his superhero days. Back when he wasn’t always being compared to his super-talented hardcore basketball god brother and perfect little sister. Back when Roy and Kyle didn’t know he existed. To make matters even worse, his dad is really sick and getting sicker.

When Bob begins planning a fundraiser basketball game in support of cancer research, things start to look up. With Roy being temporarily out of the picture after terrorizing some little kids, Bob finally gets a chance to play on the D1 basketball team and ends up helping Roy complete his community service. Maria seems to be becoming more than a friend, and even big brother James starts paying more attention to him, and gives Bob some pointers on how to become The Rocket Man. But cancer rears its ugly head again when a bad fall lands Dad in a wheelchair. Will he be strong enough to make it to the Hoop Heroes 4 Health game?

You can find out all about Jan  and her books by visiting her blog here.

buddyfordavidlargefront2Buddy For David by Carol Ann Hoel

I had the privileged of reading Carol’s book before it was published. Carol is another friend I met on WordPress. I’ve added a link to her blog here.

If you like Christian fiction you may want to give this a read.

Young David disappeared. The only clue was trapped inside the mind of his little sister Rachel. Experience the panic David felt, kidnapped and locked inside a cage. Delight in a Great White Pyrenees dog and a woodpecker playing their roles incidentally turning tragedy to good. If you have ever felt overwhelmed by grief or oppressed by a general sense of hopelessness, or discouraged by the trials of life, you will discover in the pages of this book a living, loving, and powerful God. Incidentally, you will be entertained. Read about this sweet family, the kind all of us might wish to call our own. Find out, immediately, that their lives are about to be molested by a tragic event. Meet the family, father, mother, children, and grandmother. Walk in the shoes of the sheriff and his staff, as they struggle to find and rescue David from his captors. Meet Buddy, a Great White Pyrenees dog, just a dog, not an angel, but a big, white, fluffy dog, that plays an integral part in this saga…

I hope you enjoy this  eclectic list of books. I wish each and every author all the best. Thank you for doing what you do. You’re awesome!

The 18 Day Novel

This summer while I was enjoying a little break from blogging, I saw in the CANSCAIP news an interview with Canadian author Valerie Sherrard.  I met Valerie last year at Word on the Street. She has the sweetest smile and gentlest spirit in the world. Valerie has had twenty books published and her YA novel, “The Glory Wind,” won so many awards after its publication I’m not sure how she keeps them all straight. Coincidentally, it won the Bilson Award, the same award “Bitter, Sweet” was short listed for in 2010. I was pleased as punch to find this out because I quite enjoyed the book. Some books you know are just destined to garner much deserved attention.

During the interview, Valerie mentioned that she’d written one of her books in just 18 days. Wow! 18 days!!! Did you catch that?  I mean most of us have barely booted up our computers in that amount of time. While I was wowed by this news it also made me question, what the heck is wrong with me?  No wonder I’m just starting my third novel. I picked away at my last novel for a few years. Started. Stopped. Started again until I’d finally made my mind up to finish it. Now mind you, I wrote “Bitter, Sweet” in about three months and was working at the time, but that doesn’t even come close to being 18 days.

Reading this made me wonder how much of my time I spend tooling around the internet and allowing other things to distract me. What if I simply made my mind up to write, write, write until I came to the end. I’ve got a pretty good idea where my next novel is going, I know who my characters are, so what’s the problem?

Discipline. A writer needs to have discipline, and not just those times when the writing process is going great and we’re loving every minute of our WIP (work in progress for my non-writing friends). Discipline is what keeps us steadily plugging away even when we’d rather be out enjoying the sun or watching our favourite TV program.

We also need faith– faith in the fact that we have what it takes to complete a project. This is another area I struggle with, and often why you’ll never hear me mention any details of my WIP. What if I can’t deliver the finished product? What if my story ends up being monkey crap? Oh yes, I’ve written my share of that over the years.

So what’s a writer to do? Why write of course: write and don’t worry about what other writers are able to accomplish. Who knows maybe one day I’ll write a novel in just 17 days.

 

Do other people’s accomplishments inspire you or do they make you feel as though you’ll never be any good?

That’s Me—Writer Groupie!

My name is Laura Best and I am a writer groupie.

I never knew this before, but apparently there IS a word for what’s ailing me( if you call it ailing) —- “writer groupie.” And doesn’t that sound totally lame? I mean anything with the word groupie attached to it. Makes you sound so…so… I don’t know…desperate.

I discovered this tidbit over at Fitch Happens. Sheree wrote that even though she’s a writer, she’s a reader first. She spoke about how precious her signed copies of books are. She openly admitted to sniffing the ink on the page. She was not ashamed.

Let me be straight about this: I have NEVER sniffed ink.(Not that I believe that ink sniffing is wrong , mind you, or even beneath me. If you’re an ink-sniffer that’s perfectly fine by me.) I’m not even sure that ink gives off an odor, not from your regular run-of-the-mill ballpoint at any rate, but who am I to argue?

The truth is, the thought never crossed my mind….. I’m just not a sniffer by nature unless it’s something that is sniffable– flowers, skin products, perfume, spices—you get my drift. My daughter is a sniffer. Whenever she opens a gift she smells it regardless of what it is. Got it from her grandmother on her father’s side. It’s a family joke or, quite possibly, a tradition. We sit around and watch each Christmas, and yes, she does it every time. Does this mean we’re strange?

Nope. I’m definitely not an ink sniffer….Yet now the thought is there, isn’t it? I do have signed books, you know.

I could deny the word— writer groupie, and yet I think the signs are there…..I show up at book signing, have my picture snapped with various authors all in hopes of creating this scrapbook for Miss Charlotte. I love meeting other authors and chatting with them. I flock to where authors are hanging out. AND I have photos to go along with my signed books from: Syr Ruus, Jan Coates, JoAnn Yhard, Helene Boudreau, Margaret Atwood, Budge Wilson, Steve Vernon, Jill MacLean, Sheree Fitch, Star Dobson, … I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting at the moment of writing this, and there will be more in the future.

I remember when I was off signing copies of my novel. A few people came prepared to get photos so I guess I’m not the only one. It was actually kind of cool to think that someone wanted their photo snapped with me. I mean me, really. I wonder at this moment how Margaret Atwood feels, she’s probably in more scrapbooks and photo albums than any other Canadian writer.

Still, there are worse things in life I suspect. I won’t bother naming them at the moment.. I’ll just curl up on the sofa with my photos and books and resists the urge to sniff ink.

Be honest, are you a writer groupie? Do you have signed copies of books from authors that you would never part with? Have you ever sniffed the ink on a page?

I Heard the Word, and it was on the Street

Word on the Street was held on the Halifax waterfront this year. It’s the annual celebration of book and magazine publishers, authors, anything to do with the written word. Two years ago I read from my manuscript as my book wasn ‘t yet back from the printers. This year I went to be part of the audience, brought along my camera and enjoyed the day as a spectator. Okay, so I hung out around the young adult stage for much of the time we were there. It only seemed natural. Plus, I was hoping to get some photos with some of my favourite YA authors.  I’m putting together a scrapbook, one that I hope Miss Charlotte will adore when she is old enough to be reading these authors for herself. Hopefully, she’ll be impressed to see that her Nanny Bee actually met these incredible authors for real.

We arrived in time to hear Jan Coates read from, “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk.”  I’m not sure why I didn’t make Jan pose for a picture with me. Maybe it was because she was in a hurry to get over to the Woozles booth to sign books. As many times as what Jan and I have had coffee together it makes me wonder why there isn’t one single shot of the two of us together. Why is that Jan?

 

 

 

We checked out the various publishers who were set up. Got a few pictures of the books on Nimbus Publishing’s table.

Look, there’s JoAnn Yhard’s books Lost on Brier Island and The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. Sorry that I missed JoAnn’s reading, I blame the chauffeur, although I can’t complain because he does a darn good job of driving the old folks around the city. Thanks, Matt!  Not to worry, we took him to have his photo snapped with Theodore Tugboat. It was all good.

When I asked for a photo with Sheree Fitch, she pulled out her glasses from her big Mary Poppin-sized bag and asked me to put them on. Well, you don’t say no to Sheree Fitch.

What do you think? Do I look any taller in these?  Hmmm, I’m kind of wondering now what all she keeps in that purple bag of hers.

So listen up, I learned a valuable lesson while talking to Sheree yesterday. Never, ever tell an author, such as Sheree Fitch, that you loved her book. You’ll be sure to get a somewhat polite but confused response when they ask you “which book?”  Duh! Like Sheree’s been published a gazillion times and I have read a number of her books, but I don’t think she’s yet mastered mind reading. Always remember to mention what book you’re talking about. It just makes it  SO much easer for the author.

We listened while Sheree, Jill MacLean ad Don Aker read from their books and answered the audience’s questions.

I chatted with Jill MacLean later. I met Jill last year at at the book launch for author Cynthia D’entrement’s book  Unlocked . Jill even wrote me a lovely note  last year to congratulate me on Bitter, Sweet’s nomination for the Bilson Award. So it’s obvious that I could have used Sheree’s glasses this time too., or would you believe I was sitting down for this shot?

 

 

 

I was excited to meet Valeria Sherrard. Valerie’s latest book, The Glory Wind, won the Ann Conner Brimer award this year. Yay Valerie!  I’m SO looking forward to reading it. It was remarkable to watch as Valerie answered questions from young readers. Seems to me, those young readers had some well thought out questions. Glad it was Valerie on the hot-seat and not me.

I ran into Syr Ruus yesterday as well. She was off to sign copies of her book, Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart. Okay, so Syr scrunched down a bit for this photo to make me appear a bit taller. How’s that for friendship, I ask?

Before heading back out of the big city, we listened to Steve Vernon read from his YA novel, Sinking Deeper.        Having already read the book, I knew what to expect. My son did not. I do believe by some of the chuckles he quite enjoyed Steve’s sense of humour, and his lively writing which comes out quite nicely in this book.  Steve’s a great story-teller and very entertaining. A real pro.                                                                                                                                                                                

So, I think I covered just about everything. Of course, there is so much more to Word on the Street than what I covered, but I can’t be in every place at once . If you have never gone it’s well worth going to. We have some truly remarkable and talented authors in our area.

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