Staff Pick: Irene on The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

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Winner of a 2017 National Jewish Book Award

There is something inherently exciting in finding a cache of documents and letters that is over 300 years old.

This book weaves together the stories of two women: Ester Velasquez, who is a scribe for a blind rabbi in 1660s pre-plague London, and the historian Helen Watt, who assesses the documents in the 21st century. Kadish brings these two dedicated characters to life by telling the alternate stories of the mystery of the documents and the subterfuge Ester undertook to write them.

The rich detail of the times in which each lived makes for compelling reading.

Purchase this amazing book in store or online HERE.

Staff Pick: Tina on Anna, Like Thunder by Peggy Herring

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In 1808, a Russian Trade ship runs aground off the coast of Oregon with the 18-year-old wife of the Captain on board. Anna and few of the ship’s crew are captured by the First Nations peoples of the region where they are put to work, taught, traded and taken care of.

Her husband and the rest of the crew eventually kidnap an important member of one of the tribes to trade for Anna and, in a surprising turn of events, Anna refuses to go with them. In fact she tries to convince them they should surrender. Anna has seen a very believable side to the way First Nations and Europeans lived and saw the world.

This is a fictional account of a true event. An interesting fact is that when one of the crew did make it back to Europe, he wrote about Anna, her refusal to be traded back to her people and how that affected and influenced them all. At the same time, there has long been an oral history passed down through the generations of the coastal tribes of Anna’s story as well. In 1985 both of these stories were gathered and looked at side by side. They were found to be almost exactly the same despite being of years and continents apart.

Purchase your copy in store or online HERE.

Staff Pick: Susan on Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart

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This is the first of a trilogy, set on the Tibetan-Chinese border in 1708.  An exiled imperial librarian, Li Du, turns detective when an astronomer is killed in a border town he is passing through. 

The emperor has declared that he would command a solar eclipse - the victim is the Jesuit who actually did the science.  While the blame for the murder is placed on Tibetan bandits, Li Du knows that everyone has secrets: the ambitious magistrate, the powerful consort, the bitter servant, the irreproachable secretary, the East India Company merchant, the nervous missionary, and the traveling storyteller who can’t keep his own story straight.

Li Du must make a decision: does he leave and embrace his exile, or does he stay and investigate a murder every one seems all to willing to forget?

A wonderful book that looks at Chinese society in a very different time. 

Selected as the April 2020 read by the Hoot-Dunnit Mystery Book Club! Interested in joining the club? Contact Owl’s Nest Books for more information.

Pick up your copy in store today or purchase it online HERE.

Staff Pick: Sue on Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

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Put aside your cynicism about celebrities writing books, this collection ticks all the boxes for well crafted, quirky stories. The thread joining all he stories is that of the typewriter, sometimes playing a minor role, sometimes to a greater degree.

“Three Exhausting Weeks” is very funny, and could be script for an intelligent rom-com. These characters reappear in later stories, and as a reader I liked getting to know them more fully.

There are more intense stories, one being “Christmas Eve 1953”, in which Virgil Beuell and his family settle into a picture postcard Christmas Eve in the 50’s.  He then flashes back to memories of a horrific Christmas Eve battle he was part of in WWII.  The intensity of this story contrasts sharply with the humourous romp of the previous story.

Hanks examines the human condition with wit, compassion, insight and understanding. This is a collection that will engage a short story veteran or a newcomer to the genre.

Available in store or purchase online HERE.

Staff Pick: Kristi on A Winter's Promise & The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos

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Translated from French by Hildegard Serle

Ophelia is an animist, able to read the history of an object just by touching it, and her skill is unmatched. Plain spoken and headstrong, she is happy tucked away caring for her little museum of old-world relics. But when she is engaged to a high-ranking official from Pole she finds herself thrown into the midst of power games and politics that will have ramifications not only for her but for her whole world.

In A Winter’s Promise we are introduced to Ophelia and join her in being thrust, unprepared, into the political scheming that is the life blood of Pole. There is much more going on than meets-the-eye, and Ophelia must unravel the threads of this tangled political mess to avoid becoming a pawn in a game she doesn’t understand.

In The Missing of Clairdelune Ophelia must submerse herself willingly into a high stakes investigation of missing, high ranking officials. If she doesn’t succeed not only her life, but the life of everyone she holds dear will be put in jeopardy. But there is more at play here than just politics and one must ask, are the benefits any better than the cost?

This amazing speculative fiction series will leave you yelling at the end and wanting more.

Available in store and online. Purchase A Winter’s Promise HERE. Purchase The Missing of Clairdelune HERE.

Staff Pick: Sandy on Harry's Trees by Jon Cohn

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Harry manages a grove of trees for the Forestry Service - trees he loves but has never seen with his own eyes. After the death of his wife (for which he blames himself) Harry decides to end his own life and to do so among his beloved trees. But things go awry and instead Harry finds refuge in the trees.

Oriana is a young girl who has lost her father. She wanders through the trees, convinced that if she does everything just right her father will come back - just like in the fairy tales.

Harry and Oriana form an unlikely bond as he works to help her with her ludicrous scheme, a bond that helps open Harry’s heart to a whole new life while fulfilling Oriana’s wildest dreams,

Come in to pick up your copy today or order online HERE.

Staff Pick: Michelle on Baba Dunja's Last Love by Alina Bronksy

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Translated from German by Tim Mohr

Octogenarian Baba Dunja returns to live out her final days in her beloved home, a stone’s throw away from the Chernobyl dead zone. Bringing with her a ragtag group of her former neighbours, they make a life for themselves in their village. With the town to themselves and strangely misshapen forest fruit to spare, they have pretty much everything they need and happily while away the days in their idyllic little settlement.

But that all changes when a stranger arrives with a little girl, and their home is threatened with annihilation again.

Pick up your copy at Owl’s Nest Books today, or order it online HERE.

Staff Pick: Judith on The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos

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Did you know that, when allowing for inflation, Les Misérables received the highest advance of any novel ever published? 

In this immensely readable history, David Bellos tells not only the story of how Victor Hugo managed to publish this classic of French fiction while exiled from France, he also points out all the intriguing little details in the clothing, dialogue and references that make this book a perennial classic and a snapshot of French history. 

With the new adaptation from the BBC reviving interest in Les Misérables, Bellos’s analysis makes for a helpful companion to either the original novel or the myriad adaptations of Hugo’s great saga. 

Order your copy online HERE.

Staff Pick: Mike on Days by Moonlight by Andre Alexis

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Alfred Homer, a grieving and heart-broken botanist accompanies his friend, Professor Morgan Bruno, on a road trip through small town southern Ontario in search of a lost Canadian poet. This extraordinary road trip takes the two men through towns with familiar names and otherworldly customs.

A surreal take on the meaning of death, life and God, Days by Moonlight asks the perpetual question: how do we know the things we know are real, and what is real anyway?

Wordfest proudly presents Andre Alexis this Saturday, May 25th at 1:00 pm. Grab your tickets HERE and join us to hear this Giller Prize winning author talk about Days by Moonlight.

Staff Pick: Kristi on The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

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For fans of Kate Quinn’s Alice Network, this is an absolute must read!

The year is 1946 and the Second World War has just ended. Grace Healey, running late for work, decides to cut through Grand Central Station (a place she had vowed never to set foot in again) to make up time. In her rush, she trips over a suitcase, abandoned by a bench. Unable to find its owner, Grace decides to take the bag home with her. Opening it, she finds it full of photographs of women - women who served as radio operators and spies in Occupied Europe during the war. Women who disappeared. Grace decides to find out what happened to these women and is drawn into their stories, stories of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Pick up your copy in store today, or order it online HERE.

Staff Pick: Tina on The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

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The one word that best describes this book: compelling. There are three sisters, raised in seclusion, taught from birth to only rely on their parents; knitted strongly together through the acts of love and horror they are forced to commit for love of each other.

Suddenly, they must decide what is real, and what is the world their parents created, when they find themselves alone in their home with three strange men who have arrived on their ocean shore.

Pick up your copy today in store, or order online HERE.

Staff Pick: Kristi on City of Lies by Sam Hawke

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City of Lies is a true gem of fantasy literature. Sam Hawke has woven a tale so unique and refreshing it was an absolute pleasure to read. The story centers on two siblings. Best friends to the Chancellor’s Heir, they are also his shield: Jovan his proofer, trained to detect and neutralize all types of poison, and Kalina who employs other…skills. When the Chancellor is murdered and the city besieged it will be up to Jov and Kalina to identify the traitors in their midst, before everything they love is destroyed.

This story is so brilliant, so wonderfully written I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next. City of Lies is the next must-read fantasy epic for any fan of the genre.

Pick up your copy in store today, or order online HERE.

Check out this, and Kristi’s other reviews, on here BLOG.

Staff Pick: Tina on Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

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Between 1920 and 1950 the Tennessee Children’s Home Society changed the face of adoption forever. They turned adoption from a shameful, embarrassing thing to something Hollywood stars and Government representatives were proud to do. They were also stealing beautiful, poor children to do so.

This is the story of twelve-year-old Rill Foss, and her siblings, taken from their poor shanty boat parents and put into the adoption system. The book switches between this time and the time of their future descendants, who are looking for links, and looking for the truth, afraid of what they will find.

A fictional novel, based on true events, this book will keep you turning the page, and contemplating the outcomes of such an event, long after you have turned the last page.

Pick up your copy today, or order online HERE.

Staff Pick: Kristi on Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

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2018 was an amazing year for POC women authors with so many fantastic books coming out. Tasha Suri’s Empire Of Sand is no exception. I’ve been following people on Twitter who follow Tasha, and have been watching the hype for Empire Of Sand build. It was because of that hype that I decided to order the book, and am so glad that I did.

Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor, daughter of an Amrithi woman. The Amrithi are desert people, nomads descended from the daiva, who hold magic in their blood.

Raised as a noblewoman, Mehr is unprepared when her power comes to the attention of the Maha and his mystics. She will need to use every ounce of wit and will she possesses to escape the cruel clutches of a madman.

This is a beautifully written story of inner strength, faith and, above all, hope. I was completely enchanted and swept away with the story as Tasha wove her magic with words. It is a wonderful story set in a world rich in magic and myth. A must-read for all fantasy fans.

Buy Empire of Sand HERE

See this post, and others by Kristi, on her blog HERE

Tina on The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

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Ten-year-old Doris receives an address book from her beloved father. Soon after, she is torn from her family. She continues to document every important person who comes into her life, logging them carefully into the address book.

Now she is 96 year old, flipping through the pages and remembering every person, where she was when she met them, and how they changed her life. She decides to write down the stories of these people, and how they came to be a part of the fabric of her life, for who she thinks is the last living person in her address book.

Not only is the story of her life intriguing and so very interesting, we discover she still has some living left herself.

Reserve your copy of this amazing title HERE.

Staff Pick: Kristi on Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

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One of my goals in 2019 is to try to read more ARCs and be a bit more up on the new releases of the year. My first book for this goal is Crown Of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto, a Canadian YA author!

Veronyka is a war orphen who dreams of nothing more than to become one of the legendary Phoenix Riders, bonding with a Phoenix of her own and being a great warrior and hero. After a stunning act of betrayal by her sister, Val, Veronyka sets off on her own to find the warriors, convinced that they weren’t all destroyed in the Blood War.

She succeeds, but runs into one little snag…they are only accepting male recruits. So Veronyka becomes Nyk and gets a position in the stables while seeking a sponsor for the next round of recruitment. What could go wrong?

Just her sister suddenly showing up ready to destroy the life and friendships Veronyka has started to build. Just an army of Empire soldiers with orders to destroy the Phoenix Riders once and for all.

I will admit that I had some issues getting into this book. I’m not sure if I was finding the story a little slow, or if I just wasn’t in the right head space when I started (it happens). In any case I pushed through, and am so glad I did. In the second half the book really took off and I very much enjoyed where the story went and the twist at the end. I appreciated the fact that, while the story felt properly completed, it also left a lot open for a sequel. I find that this is always a good thing as YA readers tend to enjoy series more than stand-alone books. This one will definitely be going on my recommendation list once it is released in February 2019. Can’t wait to start handselling!

Crown of Feathers is available starting February 12th! Get your copy HERE!

See this, and Kristi’s other reviews, on here blog HERE

Staff Pick: Kristi on Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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I follow a bunch of authors I like on twitter. I enjoy their musings on writing, and hope to pick up a tip or two that I can use someday. One of these writers, Mark Lawrence, ran a contest for a signed copy of Red Sister, the first book in his Ancestor trilogy. I won (much to my surprise, as I never win ANYTHING).

I have never been so happy to have had a book fall into my lap. While I knew of the book before this, it hadn’t registered on my radar (I have so many on my TBR pile I’m trying to be selective). I was so wrong to not have picked it up before now. I can’t remember the last time a book left me completely speechless!

Nona Grey has come to the Convent of Sweet Mary, saved from the noose at the last moment, destined to become a Red Sister, a warrior like none other. But greater things are in motion, things that will change the world, and Nona in the centre of them. Will this girl, plucked wild from the Grey, learn to control her own power and become the warrior she is meant to be?

I cannot begin to express my love for this book. The story is amazing and has left me aching for the next book (Grey Sister is available in hardcover, but I have a thing about having books match and so I’m waiting for the mass market edition to come out) so that I can continue following Nona’s story. If you read one great epic fantasy this year, make sure it is Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Buy Red Sister HERE

See Kristi’s original post, and her others, HERE

Staff Pick: Judith on The Secret History of Jane Eyre by John Pfordresher

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The title page of Jane Eyre claims that it is an autobiography, edited by “Currer Bell” the pen name of Charlotte Bronte.

Though Bronte disavowed the novel being about her own life, there are too many parallels to ignore. Charlotte also attended school and was cruelly treated (and the school may have hastened the deaths of her younger sisters Maria and Elizabeth). Charlotte also worked as a governess and fell in love with a married man.

Pfordresher recounts Bronte’s life through the lens of her best known work. This biography would make an excellent pairing with the novel that inspired it.

Staff Pick: Tina on The Great Alone by Kirstin Hannah

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In The Great Alone, PTSD suffering Vietnam vet Ernt Allbright drags his family to a remote corner of Alaska, believing living fresh off the land, with few people around, will cure him of his nightmares and violent outbreaks. However, as winter approaches and the dark sets in, his wife and daughter find themselves in an increasingly dangerous situation.

Alaska itself comes alive in what is essentially a coming-of-age story for the protagonist, Leni. The descriptions are so vivid that you feel as though you are there - which is at times exhilarating and at times terrifying. With a wonderful set of characters, as thoughtful and serious as they are quirky and kind, this book will keep you turning page after page wanting to know what happens to them all. This book, about what it means to belong somewhere, and to someone, will break your heart and lift you up.