The Year in Books: 2015

Whatever your interests, it’s the perfect season to stock your library, with a range of fascinating books by writers in the hills.

November 25, 2015 | | Back Issues

Once again this year these pages reflect a bumper crop of local literature. From the harrowing real-life ordeal told in Nicole Moore’s Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival to the cheeky, short “flash” fiction of Harry Posner’s Little Exits: Stories, there’s plenty to choose from.

If you have young readers on your list, there are some especially tantalizing titles. For preteens, there’s Tales of theAblockalypse #1: The Chosen by David Scott (pick it up if only to find out what that kooky neologism means!) and Alyxandra Harvey’s Whisper the Dead from her Lovegrove series, set in Regency-era London. Headwaters itself has a cameo in Emily the Irritating: Let the Story Begin by John Denison, which tells the tale of 13-year-old Emily who has just moved to Mono Centre.

Though not the intended reader, young people are also the protagonists in a number of new works, including Katja Rudolph’s Little Bastards in Springtime, which centres on an 11-year-old in 1992 Sarajevo.
And our list this year even includes some exceptional books by kids. Both David Scott and Quinn Kavaner were only 12 when they wrote their highly read-worthy books The Chosen and The Frown Who Wanted to Smile respectively.

Whatever your interests, it’s the perfect season to stock your library, and those of your loved ones, with a range of fascinating books by writers in the hills.
– Tralee Pearce

In a Manner of Speaking
Phrases, Expressions, and Proverbs and How We Use and Misuse Them
by Colin McNairn

Colin McNairn explores the eccentricities of the English language in this fascinating and often humorous book on commonly used and misused expressions. Rather than taking an encyclopedic approach, McNairn delves into sociology, popular culture, geography and technology to explain how idioms are created and how they evolve over time.
So fair dinkum to McNairn, the man is obviously no damp squib. With his help, readers will learn to use our language accurately and avoid looking as stunned as me arse.
McNairn’s career has included work as a writer, professor, lawyer and administrative law judge. He divides his time between Toronto and Mulmur. (Skyhorse Publishing, $21.99)
In a Manner of Speaking

Shark Assault
An Amazing Story of Survival
by Peter Jennings and Nicole Moore

By now, most of us have heard the terrifying story of Headwaters’ nurse Nicole Moore and the shark attack that took her arm and a good part of her leg when she was on holiday in Cancún, Mexico. The details many of us don’t know are even more shocking. Shark Assault tells the story of her ordeal, from the ineptitude of the ambulance personnel and the hospital administrators who argued over her insurance coverage while she nearly bled out in front of them to her many surgeries and her courageous journey back to Cancún to revisit the very spot where the attack happened.
Moore’s mere survival was incredible. Her fierce will to live life to the fullest, as well as her becoming an advocate for saving sharks from hunting and retribution killings, is nothing less than awe inspiring.
Moore, who lives in East Garafraxa, co-wrote Shark Assault with author Peter Jennings. (Dundurn Press, $22.99)
Shark Assault

The Chosen
Tales of the Ablockalypse #1
by David H. Scott

In a straight-edged world, the threat of curves is not only unbelievable – circles are a myth, right? – but it’s also an ablockalyptic nightmare. Steve hasn’t a clue why he was chosen to fight against the approaching evil, but with the fate of all “block-kind” hanging in the balance, sword in hand and faithful dog Chopper at his side, he must find the courage to battle killer skeletons, zombies, mercenaries and a bevy of other fantastical creatures.
Scott, who lives in Orangeville, was only 12 years old when he wrote this delightful Minecraft-inspired tale. The clever mix of humour, action and genuine emotion will leave preteen readers impatient for more. (Mystic Awesome Press, $8.85)
The Chosen

Pauls
by Jess Taylor

Characters named Paul abound in this collection of interconnected short stories. Some are one in a long generational line of Pauls, others have a best friend named Paul. One Paul is even a woman. Besides the commonality of the name, the stories explore loss of innocence and childhood illusion, love as possession or obligation, and the damage inflicted by a world filled with collision and casual violence.
The story “Paul” in this remarkable debut won gold at the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Taylor is the award’s second-youngest recipient (Alice Munro was the youngest). She grew up in Palgrave and attended Mayfield Secondary School’s regional arts program for visual arts. She now lives in Toronto. (BookThug, $20)
Pauls

Exploring the Light
My Visual Journey
by Bryan Davies

As a boy, Bryan Davies received a Brownie Hawkeye 620-film camera for Christmas, a gift that set him on a lifelong path of exploring exotic locations, meeting interesting people, taking part in unlikely adventures and seeing the world in a whole new light. His newly published book is an intriguing blend of memoir, travelogue, spiritual rumination and photography – including those he took for this magazine of the Melancthon potato fields recently saved from disappearing into a mega quarry.
Davies lives in Creemore. (AuthorHouse, $40)
Exploring the Light

Little Bastards in Springtime
by Katja Rudolph

Katja Rudolph’s gripping new novel portrays the 1992 siege of Sarajevo from the perspective of 11-year-old Jevrem Andric. His father, a political writer, decides the family must stay put – after all, Sarajevo is their city. But as days turn to weeks, hunger and grinding boredom are punctuated by unimaginable violence. Years later a teenage Jevrem struggles to restart his life in Toronto, but what he has seen and experienced in his former homeland is not so easily left behind.
Rudolph divides her time between Mono and Toronto. (Harper Collins, $17.99)
Little Bastards in Springtime

Gibbons
The Invisible Apes
by John Steckley

When John Steckley needed a few paragraphs about gibbons for an anthropology textbook he was writing, he decided to make a quick trip to the zoo. Little did he know that his day of researching these lesser apes would become an obsession. Gibbons: The Invisible Apes is loaded with facts, legends, personalities, photos, anecdotes, and a look at the people devoted to saving these endangered primates from extinction.
An instructor at Humber College until his retirement, Steckley has authored many books on sociology, anthropology and Aboriginal studies. He lives in Bolton. (Rock’s Mills Press, $14.95)
Gibbons

Dick and Amy’s Story
By Dorothy-Jane Needles

Dick and Amy’s Story recounts the heartfelt tale of a brother and sister as they struggle through poverty and loss in 1890’s Toronto.
Soon to be released, The Life of Ellen takes place in 14th-century England and follows the journey of a hare-lipped witch.
Rosemont’s Dorothy-Jane has been writing since she was five and has published a wide range of plays, novels and craft books for children and adults, including Dufferin Dines In, a collection local recipes and anecdotes. (Needles Publishing, $9.95)
Dick and Amy’s Story

Little Exits: Stories
by Harry Posner
Dispatch #15

Shelby Mordan’s Ode to a Drainpipe ends with you dying of a ruptured spleen, the result of a ball hockey incident where, after an awkward skirmish, you end up running into the butt end of your own stick, and yet still manage to score the winning goal.

Little Exits, a collection of flash (that is, very short) stories, explores the inevitable dance we all do with death. Orangeville author Harry Posner’s playful use of language and balance of humour and pathos come together in a thoroughly enjoyable read. He has also just released a spoken-word CD of his poetry, called In the Event of True Happiness.
Posner’s previous works of fiction include Charivari and A Softness in the Eyes, as well as Wordbirds, a book of poetry. (Shaw’s Creek, $20)

DiLittle Exits: Stories

The Grand River
Dundalk to Lake Erie
wood engravings by Gerard Brender à Brandis with background text by Marianne Brandis

“In words and images,” notes Marianne Brandis in the introduction to The Grand River, “we reflect on ‘riverness,’ the private life of rivers, the dialogue between land and water, the connection with vegetation and climate and weather, with humans and their works.”
A lofty goal well met. This collection of essays and wood engravings, beautifully printed by Porcupine’s Quill in Erin, starts at the river’s source, a wet spot in a field near Dundalk, and journeys through rich farmland to Luther Marsh, Fergus, Elora, and points south until it empties into Lake Erie.
Gerard Brender à Brandis and Marianne Brandis live in Stratford. (Porcupine’s Quill, $24.95)
The Grand River

Fantastic Cities
A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined
by Steve McDonald

Crocheting makes you cranky? Knitting drives you nuts? Why not try colouring, the latest stress-relieving fad for adults? You’ll give your busy brain a rest while you crayon your cares away. Steve McDonald’s cityscapes are beautifully intricate works of art just waiting for you to add your own splashes of colour. You can spend a relaxing hour or two immersed in Tokyo, Istanbul, Paris, Rio or another city. Prefer a scene closer to home? Peterborough, Hamilton, Parry Sound, the Collingwood shipyards and a storefront in Creemore are all waiting for your artistic flair.
McDonald is a well-known pen-and-ink artist who has lived and sketched all over the world. He now calls Dunedin home. You can read Liz Beatty’s feature profile of the Fantastic Cities artist and try your hand at a colouring contest. (Chronicle Books, $14.95)
Fantastic Cities

Whisper the Dead
The Lovegrove Legacy #2
by Alyxandra Harvey

Gretchen Thorn is at her breaking point. As a Whisperer, she has more power than most regular humans could imagine, but as a female in Regency-era London, she remains subject to the rules that constrain women. How is she expected to master embroidery with spells whispering through her mind and magic portals opening all over the city to release bloodthirsty creatures on the populace? Worst of all, she’s saddled with Tobias Lawless, a cold, infuriating devotee of The Order. He was sent to protect her – but perhaps he should be looking to her for protection.
Harvey, who lives in Mono, is the author of the bestselling Drake Chronicles. Whisper the Dead is the second book in the teen series the Lovegrove Legacy. (Bloomsbury, $19.99)
Whisper the Dead

Raising Emotionally Healthy Boys
by Michael Reist

“Many of the problems we face as a society and as a species are directly influenced by how we raise our boys – the growing gap between rich and poor, the destruction of the environment, street violence and war, the subjugation and abuse of women – all of these phenomena have significant roots in the male psyche and male culture,” writes speaker and educator Michael Reist. Boys are taught to hide their feelings, to be strong and stoic, to never cry. But repressed emotions don’t disappear, they fester, becoming twisted and ugly, creating psychologically broken men. Raising Emotionally Healthy Boys helps parents understand their boys and teaches them how to raise emotionally stable men.
Reist’s previous titles include Raising Boys in a New Kind of World and What Every Parent Should Know about School. He lives in Caledon East. (Dundurn Press, $19.99)
Raising Emotionally Healthy Boys

The Frown Who Wanted to Smile
by Quinn Kavaner

When Frown heads out into the world to learn to smile, he quickly realizes the birds, flies, frogs and fish are no help. It’s only when he returns home to his mother’s unconditional love that he discovers smiles aren’t something that can be learned – they come from within.
Caledon’s Quinn Kavaner was 12 years old when he published The Frown Who Wanted to Smile. His second title, The Frown Who Thought He Was Ugly – in which Frown learns a lesson about inner beauty – is hot off the press. (AmazaQ Publishing, $10 each)
The Frown Who Wanted to Smile

The Frown Who Thought He Was Ugly
by Quinn Kavaner

When Frown heads out into the world to learn to smile, he quickly realizes the birds, flies, frogs and fish are no help. It’s only when he returns home to his mother’s unconditional love that he discovers smiles aren’t something that can be learned – they come from within.
Caledon’s Quinn Kavaner was 12 years old when he published The Frown Who Wanted to Smile. His second title, The Frown Who Thought He Was Ugly – in which Frown learns a lesson about inner beauty – is hot off the press. (AmazaQ Publishing, $10 each)
he Frown Who Thought He Was Ugly

Emily the Irritating: Let the Story Begin
by John Denison

In the first of the series, Let the Story Begin, 13-year-old Emily has just been transplanted from the southern United States to Mono Centre in the Great White North. What better way to show her displeasure than to irritate everyone around her? Luckily, especially for her exasperated mother, Emily and her new friend become preoccupied with an abandoned stone house and the mysterious figure of an old woman in the woods.
Denison is the author of a number of books for preteens and teens, including Booger and Hanna, the President’s Daughter. He lives in Erin. (Why Knot Books, $20 each)
Emily the Irritating: Let the Story Begin

Emily the Irritating: Boy in the Park
by John Denison

Boy in the Park sees Emily in her first year of high school, where she encounters bullying and violent racism. She’s also keeping a secret: an Aboriginal boy is living rough in Mono Cliffs Park – and he’s awfully cute.
Denison is the author of a number of books for preteens and teens, including Booger and Hanna, the President’s Daughter. He lives in Erin. (Why Knot Books, $20 each)
Emily the Irritating: Boy in the Park

Time’s Tempest
Chronicles of Xannia, Part One
by M.J. Moores

Xannia, a planet headed for environmental catastrophe, is ruled by a brutal totalitarian government. As one of the privileged few allowed to work as a government contractor, Taya’s job is to take orders and follow them without question. But when she learns of mass government deceit, she agrees to lead a group of dissenters on a gruelling journey to expose the truth.
M.J. Moores lives in Caledon. (GWL Publishing, $18.99 each)
Time’s Tempest

Cadence of Consequences
Chronicles of Xannia, Part Two
by M.J. Moores

Cadence of Consequences, part two of the series, sees Taya caught between two worlds: the flawed society she knows as home and the Underground, a rebel enclave bent on overthrowing the government.
M.J. Moores lives in Caledon. (GWL Publishing, $18.99 each)
Cadence of Consequences

The Letter
by Patricia Brez

Letters found in an old desk reveal new secrets spanning generations in this sequel to Patricia Brez’s first novel The Sidewalk.
Brez’s childhood home of Elmira once again takes centre stage as the backdrop for this story of love and loss. She now lives in Violet Hill. (Moose Hide Books, $22.08)
The Letter

Mary and the Fairies
There Are Fairies, Book 2
by Mary Scattergood

In this sequel to Mary Scattergood’s first children’s picture book, There Are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden, the fairies are disturbed by a little girl trying to catch sight of them. Resourceful fairy Belle decides to ask the other garden creatures for their advice. With a little compromise, both the fairies and the little girl happily share an afternoon among the blooms.
Mary Scattergood is an Orangeville artist and art instructor. Like the little girl in the story, she spent many afternoons singing to the fairies in her grandmother’s garden. (Burnham Publications, $19.95)
Mary and the Fairies

The Black Oracle
by Michael Cristiano

Centuries after the Great Death wipes out most of humankind, the world is divided into three factions: the remaining humans living a hunter-gatherer existence, the demonic creatures that prey upon them, and the denizens of Zalm, a realm whose citizens are capable of great magic but are caught in a stagnant culture of oppression. Joachim, a human hunter, is devastated when his wife is abducted in a demon attack. To save her, he must travel into Zalm, find the Black Oracle, and return with an immortality potion for his greatest enemy.
Michael Cristiano grew up in Caledon. He now lives in the GTA. (Curiosity Quills Press, $19.99)
The Black Oracle

The Mystery Lady
by Diane Bator

In the second and third novels of Diane Bator’s Wild Blue Mysteries series, the team at Wild Blue Detective Agency is once again embroiled in the dangerous secrets of small-town America.
Bator, who calls Orangeville home, deftly combines suspense with a touch of romance to produce a satisfying read. (Books We Love, $9.99 each)
The Mystery Lady

The Bakery Lady
by Diane Bator

In the second and third novels of Diane Bator’s Wild Blue Mysteries series, the team at Wild Blue Detective Agency is once again embroiled in the dangerous secrets of small-town America.
Bator, who calls Orangeville home, deftly combines suspense with a touch of romance to produce a satisfying read. (Books We Love, $9.99 each)
The Bakery Lady

Hopeful Steps
by Nicolette Ursula Smith

In 2007 Nicolette Ursula Smith and her husband Martin left their friends and family in Dufferin County to work with the needy in Guyana through Voluntary Service Overseas. Hopeful Steps is an inspiring collection of essays describing that country’s beauty, customs, people and challenges.
Smith is a retired physiotherapist who now lives in the Georgian Bay area. (Nicolette Ursula Smith, $18.50)
Hopeful Steps

The Nights and Times of Ned Clery
written and illustrated by Nancy Guild Bendall

When 10-year-old Ned Clery finds a patch of glowing green mushrooms in his garden, he is drawn into a world of magical creatures and a lifetime of adventures.
Bendall, who lives in Alton, draws from a wealth of legends and fairy tales in this beautifully illustrated book for middle-grade readers and up. (Meade House Press, $31.95)
The Nights and Times of Ned Clery

My Neighbourhood
by Aly Livingston

Caledon’s Aly Livingston uses ink, crayon, fabric and Sculpey, a type of modelling clay, to create a neigh- bourhood with barber shops, bike shops, cake shops and Canada geese honking at police. The bouncy rhyme and quirky illustrations are sure to please the little ones. (Lakoocha, $13.95) My Neighbourhood

Wings of Wonder
by Robert McAlpine

The painters await the murmuring stream
The sagging sail waits for the windblown breeze
The flowers on the canvas await the watering
Touch of the brush of an artist set free.

from “Painters on the Wind”
Caledon’s Robert McAlpine – with a nod to his poetry mentor Kenneth G. Mills – explores the spark of creativity and life-nurturing spirit found in nature in this, his second volume of poetry. (thewingsofwonder.wordpress.com, $14.95)

Wings of Wonder

Angelic Awakenings
by Jill Michelle

“As young as I can remember, I have heard angelic voices speaking to me and have felt the presence of these awesome, highly vibrational beings,” says Orangeville’s Jill Michelle. In Angelic Awakenings, she tells her own fascinating story of angelic guidance and teaches readers how to talk to their own angels, speak to animals, clear a house of negative energy, and live in the now. (Jill Michelle, $19.95) Angelic Awakenings

Good Morning Railfence Bunch
by Carolyn j Morris illustrated by Richard McNaughton

Chick and Duckling greet the day, saying good morning to all the animals in the barnyard. This charming picture book with its repetitive rhymes and soft watercolour illustrations will delight young children.
Beeton’s Carolyn j Morris is also the author of the Spruce Valley novels for readers young and old. Artist Richard McNaughton lives in Grey County. (Railfence Books, $12.95)
Good Morning Railfence Bunch

Caledon Hikes
Loops & Lattes
by Nicola Ross

Writer, environmental activist and seasoned hiker Nicola Ross boosts Caledon’s profile as a greenspace gem with her latest book of picturesque hikes through her beloved town. Thirty-seven of Ross’s favourite loop routes are presented with maps, photos, level of difficulty, trail length and hiking time, as well as the best places to stop for a cuppa and perhaps a bite to eat.
Interesting facts scattered throughout the book elevate Caledon Hikes beyond a mere guide. Want to know where to find a stunning display of trilliums in springtime? Or about the history of the houses and barns along the way? Or what happened when Ross’s aunt and uncle poisoned their dinner guests with lily of the valley, thinking they were serving wild leeks? (Spoiler alert: Everyone survived.)
Read on and hike safely! (Woodrising Consulting, $24.95)
Caledon Hikes

How to Become a Medium
A Step-by-Step Guide to Connecting with the Other Side
by Mary-Anne Kennedy

“We are spiritual souls first,” says Mary-Anne Kennedy. “There is a continuation of the existence of our spirits and souls after physical death, and that communication between the physical and spiritual worlds is possible and happens all the time.” Kennedy shares her personal path to becoming a medium, answers the big questions about life after death, and gives step-by-step instructions on how to receive messages from the other side.
Kennedy lives in Erin. (Library Tales Publishing, $17.99)
How to Become a Medium

About the Author More by Tracey Fockler

Tracey Fockler works at BookLore, an independent bookstore in Orangeville, where she also facilitates a book club.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Tracey, for noting My Neighbourhood in your books to read for last year. I just came across this today!

    Aly Livingston from Caledon, ON on Nov 28, 2016 at 10:57 pm | Reply

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