Staff Pick: Tina on Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson

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Tina says:

In this wonderful memoir, Craig Davidson is a writer who has reached rock bottom. After a brief glimpse of what life could have held for him as a successful novelist, his book bombs and he falls into self-pity and doubt.

Eventually he runs out of money and, in desperation, takes a job driving a school bus: a 'short bus', at that. What begins as an impulsive decision, a way simply to make some money, ends up being an experience that will help Davidson grown, like none other. Davidson becomes these kids' driver, their defender and champion; however, it is these kids that are the true heroes. This book will keep you laughing, grinning, crying and growing. Without ever being condescending, or sappy, without being depressing, despite its sometimes serious subject matter, Davidson has hit every mark right with his wonderful book.

Craig Davidson's latest novel, Cataract City was short-listed for the Giller Prize and Trillium Book Prize, while his book of stories, Rust and Bone, became a Golden Globe-nominated film. Precious Cargo was short-listed for Canada Reads 2018. He also writes thrillers under the pseudonym Nick Cutter.

Reserve your copy of Precious Cargo here.

Staff Pick: Michelle on Woolly by Ben Mezrich

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Michelle says:

A fascinating look at the world of cutting-edge geneticist George Church and his team of Harvard researchers.

Known for their work on the Human Genome Project, the Church lab is at the forefront of genetics research and technology. The Woolly Project is just one of the many. In this case, the Woolly Project seeks to clone and reintroduce the Woolly Mammoth into the world (kind of like Jurassic Park, but without the man-eating parts). It is hoped that the mammoths can help stabilize the melting of the polar ice caps and reduce the effects of global warming.

A very readable modern science book that raises lots of great discussion questions. A perfect non-fiction read for book clubs.

Reserve your copy here.

Staff Pick: Sarah on Autumn by Ali Smith

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Sarah says:

In the UK's first post-Brexit novel, Ali Smith conjures a literary stream of consciousness through Elizabeth Demand, a thirty-something sessional college instructor struggling with economic, emotional, and existential insecurity in an England very different from that of her childhood. The story hinges on her relationship with her mother, and daily visits to Daniel Gluck, an elderly gentleman sleeping away his final days.

The first in a seasonal quartet, and finalist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, Autumn is an exquisite study of fleeting things.

Reserve your copy here.

Book 2: Winter will be available in paperback on November 6, 2018. Preorder your copy here.

Book 3: Spring will be available in hardcover on March 12, 2019. Preorder your copy here.

Staff Pick / Local Author Launch: Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott

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Judith says:

A few months ago, Owl’s Nest received an advertisement postcard and bookmark in the mail, along with a letter.  It was from the Calgary-based author, Lauren Elliott, letting us know of her forthcoming cozy mystery.  Since Owl’s Nest specializes in mysteries, I immediately emailed asking if we could host the launch and I was so pleased when the author not only said yes, but offered to get me an advanced copy.  

(Owl’s Nest will have the pleasure of hosting the hometown launch of Murder by the Book. Join us on Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 at 7pm and/or reserve your copies in advance.)   

I finally got a chance to dip into Murder by the Book over the last few weeks and found myself always eager to go back.  

It feels like a long time since I was able read a true cozy mystery.  So much of the mystery genre these days is dark and violent.  It was lovely to sit down with the characters of Murder by the Book.  Of course, being a bookseller, the fact that the setting involved a second-hand book store only added to my pleasure.  

Murder by the Book centers around Addison “Addie” Greyborne, who has just moved into her inherited family house in a cozy New England town and opened her second-hand book shop.  She is holding back the trauma of the recent deaths of her fiancé and father (ruled an unsolved burglary-turned-wrong and an accident respectively) but her emotions still break through every now and then.  

The day her shop opens, Addie make a friend of one business-neighbour and an enemy of another.  When a prominent businessman is killed and Addie’s new friend is accused of the murder, Addie is determined to use her sleuthing skills (honed from tracking the provenance of rare books) to solve the mystery.  

With Murder by the Book, you get exactly what it says on the tin.  A cozy small town with its usual small town politics, an intriguing puzzle that keeps you guessing, and the bonus of just a little romantic tension with the local police chief.  When I got to the end, I immediately read the blurb for the second book in the series, something I rarely take the time to do.

I’m looking forward to recommending Murder by the Book as one of my staff picks, and I might have to see if I can pull strings for a peek at the sequel, Prologue to Murder.  

Staff Pick: Judith on The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

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Judith says:

The author of the fabulous Josephine Bonaparte trilogy returns to Revolutionary France and the Bonaparte family with her first book for teen readers.

Hortense de Beauharnais struggles to understand why her mother would choose for a second husband the boorish General Bonaparte. At the same time, she is riddled with guild, believing that her innocent actions may have contributed to her father's death during the final days of the Terror.

Reserve your copy here.

Staff Pick: Judith on Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

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Judith says:

Roxane Gay has written an open and gut-wrenching memoir looking back over her childhood and teens, including a brutal act of violence that was a turning point in her life.

In a world where the last acceptable prejudice falls onto the overweight and obese, Dr. Gay shows us what it is like to live large in a shrinking world, in a body she describes as "wildly undisciplined".

Reserve your copy here.

Staff Picks: Sandy on I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos

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Sandy says:

On the morning of her wedding day, Clare has a chance encounter with an old woman who gives her some very good advice.

After her wedding, Clare is notified that the old woman she spoke to for just a short time has left her a house. Intrigued by the mystery,  Clare visits this house and immediately falls in love with it. What follows is a fantastic story of mystery and discovery as Clare sets out to discover who this woman really was and what connection they really shared.

Reserve your copy here.

Staff Pick: Irene on Life on the Ground Floor by James Maskalyk

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Irene says:

Winner of the Hilary Weston Prize for Non-Fiction.

On first examination, this book is a medical memoir by an emergency room physician about his work at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, as well as the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa. Despite the obvoous differences in resources that are available to him and his colleagues at each location, what draws us into his high-adrenaline world are the needs and humanity of the people who come, or are brought, to the emergency room to be mended, have their suffering eased, and live longer. Using a chapter for each letter of the alphabet to structure his memoir (A for Airway, B for Breathing) Maskalyk begins and ends with his grandfather who lives in Northern Alberta. On the whole, a very personal story of idealism and passion, and so incredibly well written.

Currently this title is available in hardcover, which can be reserved here. The paperback is due out August 28th, and can be reserved in advance here.

Staff Pick: Judith on Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

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Judith says:

A teen novel involving Tolstoy?  Sign me up! 

Natasha ("Tash") and her friends have been making an amateur web adaptation of her favourite novel, Anna Karenina, which they've called "Unhappy Families".  When a famous vlogger gives them a shout out, their popularity explodes.  Tash suddenly must deal with both fans and haters as she and her colleagues try to finish filming the last episodes, despite one of the key actors quitting.  

At the same time, Tash begins to correspond with another vlogger, Thom. When "Unhappy Families" is nominated for an award, Tash might finally get to meet him IRL.  The only hitch is Thom's been getting flirty over texts and Tash is asexual.  

A fun teen romance that gently explores sexual orientation and gender identities, Tash Hearts Tolstoy also contains questions for readers about the price of fame and the danger of thinking our heroes are perfect.  

Reserve your copy of Tash Hearts Tolstoy here.

Staff Pick: Judith on The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate MacDonald

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Judith says:

When this new edition of The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook was released, I felt a blast from the past.  Originally published in 1985, this was the first cookbook that was "mine".  I have many wonderful memories of making these recipes with my mom, including one where we turned the kitchen into a disaster area with our first attempt at Marilla's Plum Pudding (the recipe is sans mouse).  

Other favourite recipes include: 
Anne's Liniment Cake (the one she meant to make)
Dianna Barry's Favourite Raspberry Cordial
Light and Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream
Tantalizing Raspberry Tarts

This new 2017 edition includes many new recipes, including some from L.M. Montgomery's kitchen.  This is a great gift of Anne fans of any age.  

Reserve your copy of The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook here.  

Also check out Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, coming in Fall 2018 from HarperCollins.  

The dish towel pictured was purchased at Finishing Touches, just one block down Elbow Drive.  

Staff Pick: Kristi on Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

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Kristi says:

 It’s easy to see why this book was a finalist for the William C Morris award, and why it was long listed for Canada Reads. It is an amazing story that is perfect for all ages, all religions, all races. It is a story of finding your voice, of monsters hiding behind masks. It is a story that is relevant to every person, every where, right now.

Janna is your typical teenager. She likes boys. She is trying to survive high school. She has friends and she has secrets. She is also Muslim. So sometimes life is a bit more complicated - like liking a boy who isn’t Muslim. But it isn’t the Muslim part that is her biggest problem. It’s the monster in the Saint mask. The biggest secret. That secret is ruining her life, but how do you fix it when even thinking about that secret makes you sick inside?

This review is from Kristi's personal blog. Feel free to visit to view her entire post on this book, and other books that she loves: https://silvershanica.tumblr.com/

Staff Pick: Tina on Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

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  Tina says: 

This western takes place in the 1880’s on the untamed Australian frontier. It is a very unforgiving place, full of savagery, racism, and injustice, with a harsh landscape and even harder people. A thirst for vengeance is the main action surrounding this novel, as two brothers are faced with the brutal deaths of their family. They turn for help to the wealthiest landowner in the region, a man whom their father disliked, and find themselves caught up in more than they bargained for. The journey will forever impact the youngest brother, as he tries to discover what kind of man he wants to become.

Staff Pick: Kristi on The Dark Gifts books by Vic James

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Kristi says:

Imagine a world where there are two kinds of people -- those with magic and those without.  Now, imagine that those "without" must submit themselves to ten years of slavery to those "with".

That is the world created by author Vic James in the thrilling Dark Gifts series.  But just because that's the way the world is, doesn't mean that's the way it needs to stay.  

The first two book, Gilded Cage and Tarnished City, are available now.  The third, Bright Ruin, will be available in Canada on October 9, 2018.  Come by the store to pick up and preorder your copies today and you can chat with Kristi abut other science fiction and fantasy titles with amazing world building.  

Staff Pick: Michelle's take on A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse

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A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé.  Michelle says:

"Three incidents in three disparate regions of France. On the surface, there is no connection, but the three individuals involved do have one thing in common. They all sit on a committee that chooses book titles for The Good Novel, a bookstore in Paris, which prides itself on only selling ‘good’ novels. An intricately drawn mystery providing a unique look into the behind-the-scenes workings of a bookstore."

Staff Pick: Kristi talks The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

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Kristi says:

Nour, twelve years old and struggling to understand how to make life go on after the death of her father, has just moved to Syria from New York with her mother and sisters. But the Syria of her mother’s youth is changing and all too soon the war and unrest reaches their quiet home in Homs. Losing everything they owned in the bombing, Nour and her family begin the long journey of refugees, seeking safety somewhere away from the fighting. Holding on to the stories her father had told her, Nour must face her fears and find her voice again, discovering what is truly important in life.

Staff Pick: Mike talks Elmet by Fiona Mozley

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Mike says:

In a small corner of Yorkshire, England, an unconventional man sets out to rebuild a life for himself and his two children in the hamlet of Elmet. Fiona Mozley’s first novel was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. It is a gripping exploration of family bonds, loyalty, and the will to resist power that seeks to corrupt and destroy everything in its wake.