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.
On 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.
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.
Set 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.
As a medium, Kelsey Gordon has had to deal with people’s distain of her gifts for most of her life. 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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
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.
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.