Four incredible books from Atlantic Canada: one from Newfoundland and three from Nova Scotia. Gruesome murders, foster homes (for both two-legged and four-legged creatures), mothers and sons in critical conditions, a cast of furry (and feathered) characters, and #Snowmageddon.
Beneath Her Skin by C.S. Porter (Nimbus Publishing)
I don’t usually read crime novels, but this one was nominated for an Atlantic Book Award so I went for it. I have to admit, I was kind of expecting more of a cozy, small-town mystery, but what I got was full-on disturbing. Yes, it took place in rural Nova Scotia featuring crimes that involved hay bales and lobster cars, but these crimes are gruesome and horrifying, and the characters involved in solving them haunted. The full extent of whatever is haunting Detective Kes Morris is not fully revealed, so I’m guessing there will be more of Kes Morris in the future. And I will be sorely tempted to pick it up.
This was a place that rarely saw inconceivable violence. It was a place people came to feel safe.
This Is How We Love by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi Press)
Lisa Moore’s newest, I snapped it up as soon as it arrived at the library. As with all her books, this one has a strong sense of place and character. In an interview with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter, Moore talks about how she wanted to explore our need for connectivity and how deeply we depend on each other. This goes for generational connections, as well. Rather than separating our very old and very young, Moore believes we belong together.
The story centers around a mother whose son has been stabbed and lies unconscious in hospital. She sits with him and thinks back on her life, her husband’s family, and the life of a foster child who lived across the road. What are the events that have led to this moment?
This is also a story about mothers: what makes us mothers, how we mother. Moore wanted to explore what it means to be a mother, and the idea that you don’t have to have a child to be one.
His mother would be angry with him for dying. She would consider it the culmination of every time he had disobeyed her.
I’d never seen anything like natural love between Mary and Trinity, but there was something more durable and remote, a sense of inviolate duty toward each other.
Some people are the opposite of a portal, he wanted to say to his mother. Some people are a vacuum, he would have told her. You open that door and you’re sucked into oblivion.
This is a story about mothers. How it has nothing to do with blood or choosing or being chosen. It has to do with being able.
Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (Amulet Books)
A middle grade novel by a Nova Scotian author that has been getting a lot of attention, it won this year’s Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature at the Atlantic Book Awards. The characters in this book completely won me over – they are sweet and polite and kind and supportive of each other. I can only hope this is the way most 12-year-old boys are today.
We went to Kevan’s at lunch, which was always better than lunch at school. Especially when Kevan made dessert. He set a plate on the coffee table in the Sidhus’ small den. “Behold, my newest invention”… Ty hollered for joy. “Sweet Baby Moses on a Jet Ski! It’s a miracle in my mouth.” / Kevan’s grin widened. “Maple, bacon, chili, and a bunch of spices. I took the most Canadian food and made it more Indian, and more delicious. I call it the Reverse Colonizer.”
Lucas is able to weave heavier topics into a light, fun book for kids. Brian has anxiety and it gets worse when he and his brother end up in foster care. Ezra has lots of friends, but worries what they’ll think of him when they find out he has a crush on a boy. With a cast of diverse characters, the book explores the relationships the boys have with each other, as well as Brian’s relationship with his parents.
We’d thought everything was fine. We hadn’t known the world was ending.
What to Do with the Day Brothers
Let them take care of themselves
Hard labour in the coal mines
Eccentric haunted boarding school
- D. Lend them to total strangers
Chad Lucas has just launched his newest book Let the Monster Out.
Decoding Dot Grey by Nicola Davison (Nimbus Publishing)
My local authors are not letting me down – they just keep on bringing it.
Meet Dot. At eighteen, she is living in the basement room of an elderly man’s house. It has no windows, but does have a menagerie of small creatures: a lizard, a guinea pig, two gerbils, and a hairless rat. Add to that a crow named Toby, who Dot rescued from the side of the road after it was hit by a car. She works at the animal shelter she’s been working at since she was 12, except now she’s there full-time. Probably more than full-time. About a year ago, her mother was involved in an accident and she is working through her feelings. More like, trying to avoid them.
Two new employees at the shelter–Rachel and Joe–try to befriend her and her boss–Judy–tries to shoo her home for some rest. Things get interesting when Rachel gets Dot and Joe involved in a possible animal abuse situation. And then Joe drops his bomb of a secret.
A tender story with a lot of heart, gentle humour, and some fun word-play, this story will capture your heart and you won’t want to say good-bye to the characters. Dot, Joe, Toby, Button, and Ori… I miss them already. Dot’s aversion to people and inclination to tap out Morse Code with her fingers; Joe’s kindness; Toby’s mischievous comic relief; Button’s big oafish ways; and Ori’s ability to bring quiet comfort to Dot as she goes through the world.
Well, that was a successful trip to the library. Are you tempted by any of these? Do you enjoy animal characters as much as I do? #LoveYourLibrary