The Year in Books: 2022

There’s been an amazing proliferation of new books this year, and local books always make great Christmas gifts! Here’s our annual round-up of what to read this winter.

November 17, 2022 | | Features

Thicker socks, longer sweaters, extra quilts, early darkness and the sounds of the furnace coming to life. It’s the cozy season. Time to hunker down with a good read.

If a soothing hot cuppa is essential to your reading enjoyment, Julia Dimakos explains in Tea Gardening for Beginners how you can round out the experience by growing your own tea leaves. But if something stronger is more to your taste, Unscripted Spirits, Theatre Orangeville’s followup to 2020’s Raise Your Spirits, may provide a cocktail recipe that will do the trick very nicely.

For non-fiction lovers, Hugh Brewster’s Unsinkable Lucile tracks the ups and downs of a trailblazing fashionista long before the advent of social media and “influencers,” and Outside the Gate, by Carol Marie Newall, is a biography of a British home child who spent much of her life near Hillsburgh.

In the autobiographical Chasing Greatness, Barrie Shepley, founder of the Canadian Cross Training Club in Caledon, recounts his journey through the world of high-performance endurance sports. And in Skipper Ches, Fred Dyke remembers his father and mother, whose hard lives represented a triumph of the Newfoundland spirit.

There’s also plenty of fiction for readers of every age, such as Robert Hough’s The Marriage of Rose Camilleri and Michael Decter’s first novel, Shadow Life. And kids will love Mary Scattergood’s imaginative fairy stories, as well as Charles Bongers’ Do Trees Have Mothers and Emily Mallett’s Sydney’s Best Friend.

Whatever your literary taste, you’re sure to find the perfect read among this past year’s offerings by Headwaters writers and illustrators. So curl up and enjoy!

Unsinkable Lucile

How a Farm Girl Became the Queen of Fashion and Survived the Titanic
by Hugh Brewster, illustrated by Laurie McGaw

In this book for young readers, Hugh Brewster tells the little-known true story of Lucy Sutherland, whose turn-of-the-20th-century innovations took the international fashion world by storm and catapulted the Guelph farm girl to Kardashian-like fame.

At the helm of Lucile, her fashion salon based in London, England, Lucy overcame numerous obstacles to, among other achievements, use the first live fashion models, originate the catwalk, and design the gowns that defined Edwardian haute couture. Along the way she cemented her social position by marrying Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, with whom she survived the sinking of the Titanic, though gossip about how the episode unfolded left the couple’s reputation in tatters – fairly or unfairly.

Laurie McGaw’s evocative illustrations, along with many archival photos, help bring Lucy’s story to life and ensure her legacy is not forgotten.

Both Brewster and McGaw are former longtime residents of Mulmur, Brewster is the author of more than a dozen books for children and adults, including Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage and From Vimy to Victory. (Firefly Books, $19.95)

Welcome to the Weird America

By A.G. Pasquella

Lovers of an inventive and alternative read will delight in this collection of three A.G. Pasquella novellas brought together in one immersive, and often irreverent, volume.

Each tale – from Why Not a Spider Monkey Jesus? to Newtown and The This & the That – will challenge your imaginative spirit, and make you laugh, think and consider life in ways you may never have before. Pasquella’s takes on religion, money, environmental issues, adolescence, sci-fi and retro-kitsch middle America are all presented in an often surreal style that is firmly rooted in the realm of weird fiction.

Pasquella grew up in Mulmur and now lives in Toronto. He is also the author of the Jack Palace series. (Buckrider Books, $25)

Jimmy Crack Corn

A Novel in C minor
by Glenn Carley

Like the folk song on which it draws, Glenn Carley’s latest novel lays bare line after line of deeply felt, often achingly familiar truth.

In Jimmy Crack Corn, Carley assembles a chorus of vivid, precisely imagined characters grappling with questions of freedom and innocence as only a writer with four decades of social work experience can.

Still, the plot, which traces the lived rhythms of “DoGooder Jimmy the Bleeder,” plays second fiddle to Carley’s full-bodied, typically playful and always poignant language to produce a raw, warm and lyrical work.

Also the author of Il Vagabondo, Good Enough from Here and Polenta at Midnight, Carley lives in Bolton. (Rock’s Mills Press, $20)

Chasing Greatness

Stories of Passion and Perseverance in Sport and in Life
by Barrie Shepley

Best-known to Headwaters residents as the founder of the not-for-profit C3 Canadian Cross Training Club at the rehabbed James Dick Construction quarry near Caledon Village, Barrie Shepley chronicles his journey – from discovering triathlon (swimming, biking and running) in the early 1980s through the twists and turns of his quest to find out how to help the human body achieve “faster, higher, stronger.”

Written with untethered and infectious enthusiasm, Chasing Greatness guides readers on their own journey through the world of high-performance endurance sports, including the Pan American Games and the Olympics, which Shepley has attended as both coach and commentator.

Co-owner of Personal Best, Shepley has coached hundreds of people to national and international endurance sport medals. He lives in Palgrave. (Balboa Press, $25.95)

The Marriage of Rose Camilleri

by Robert Hough

They’re an ordinary couple, Rose Camilleri and Scotty Larkin. They do ordinary things: worry about money, fret about their two children, deal with eccentric relatives, rub each other the wrong way — and manage to forge a profoundly loving and happy marriage. Until the unexpected happens, and together, the two face a calamity neither had foreseen.

With sensitivity, compassion and humour, Robert Hough relates this tale of an everyday marriage through the voice of Rose, an immigrant from Malta. A compelling narrator, Rose shapes the story of her marriage in spare, matter-of-fact prose that will captivate readers and leave them deeply moved.

A Toronto resident and the author of six previous award-nominated novels, Hough is a self-described “Erin-area weekender.” (Douglas & McIntyre, $24.95)

Outside the Gate

The True Story of a British Home Child in Canada
by Carol Marie Newall

When Carol Marie Newall began sorting through a box of her grandmother’s mementoes, she didn’t know the chore would spark a 10-year quest to decode the tantalizing clues lurking among the old photos, letters and documents. Newall’s grandmother, Winnie, had been a home child, one of more than 100,000 British children shipped to Canada between 1869 and 1948 – either because they were orphans or because their families were unable to care for them.

Like Winnie, these children often worked on farms or as domestic servants, and when they grew up, they kept their origins secret. Being a home child was considered shameful.

Although Newall lives in Muskoka, her grandmother’s story will resonate with Headwaters residents, for Winnie spent much of her life in the Hillsburgh area. (Barlow Books, $24.95)

Shadow Life

by Michael Decter

At 60-something and lurching toward the end of a semi-political career, Matthew Rice answers a summons to jury duty with equal parts dread and curiosity.

Chosen jury foreperson, Matthew, along with his fellow jurors, carefully follows the intricacies of a three-month trial that reveals in stark detail the horror of a child’s brutal murder. But when the jury is hung and the accused walks free, Matthew’s trust in the logical world is damaged.

Diagnosed with PTSD caused by the grisly trial, Matthew retreats to Quarry Island in Georgian Bay. There, his life becomes even more complicated when he discovers his birth certificate is forged.

Author of several works of non-fiction, a recipient of the Order of Canada and a former Ontario deputy minister of health, Michael Decter divides his time between Toronto and Mono. Shadow Life, the first in a planned trilogy, is his debut novel. (Cormorant Books, $24.95)

Spike

Poems in the Time of Pestilence

edited by Harry Posner et al

Though life has, we hope, returned to normal (more or less), we all carry with us the collective emotional trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic. Spike is a collection of verse that explores the pandemic-inspired pain, fear, uncertainty and isolation – and celebrates the resilience that drives people to carry on and find comfort, joy and, yes, even humour in everyday things.

The personal voices of 40 contributing poets from Grey County and environs, including Headwaters wordsmiths Harry Posner, Elaine Coish, Garth Stiebel and Judy Zarowny, speak of the grief and confusion, the desire to “rage at the unknown, unseen, everywhere plague,” and the curses of too much time alone and not enough toilet paper. But they also provide a poignant snapshot of our humanity at a time when avoiding other humans was a survival strategy.

Harry Posner, Dufferin County’s first poet laureate, was among those who compiled, edited and wrote the poems in Spike. (Cannon’s Creek, $15.95)

Auston the Sidecar Dog Saves Christmas

by Wayne Sumbler

Local residents of Headwaters may already be familiar with Wayne Sumbler who can often be spotted travelling the hills on his red Vespa scooter with his dog, Auston, perched in the sidecar, complete with goggles and helmet. Now, the charismatic mini schnoodle is the star of his own Christmas book.

When a desperate Santa loses his sleigh and his reindeer are sick, it’s Auston to the rescue. He teams up with the jolly old saint and aboard Auston’s magical scooter they deliver gifts to youngsters around the globe. Their adventures are charmingly illustrated by M.K. Komins.

Sumbler lives in Orangeville. He previously published a cookbook called Sex, Drugs and Pots and Pans. (Austin Macauley Publishers, $12.50)

Tea Gardening for Beginners

Learn to Grow, Blend, and Brew Your Own Tea at Home

by Julia Dimakos

The quest for the perfect cuppa is a thing among tea devotees – and no brew is fresher than one made with leaves harvested from your own tea garden.

Tea Gardening for Beginners is an insightful and delightful guide, detailing everything you need to know about growing your own tea, from soil conditions to the best varieties to plant in Headwaters, pest control and harvesting the crop. Put the kettle on and snuggle up with this how-to book that will be an invaluable addition to your horticultural library.

Gardening expert and influencer Julia Dimakos, aka Gardening Girl, lives in Mono. (Rockridge Press, $19.99)

Ghosts of Angels

by A.E. Lawrence

Dejected by the recent breakup of his marriage and stymied in his investigation of the murder of a 19-year-old anthropology student whose near-naked body was found kneeling outside a cathedral, Chicago homicide detective Nick Palmer figures things can’t get much worse. Then he starts seeing apparitions.

But clues offered by the apparitions lead Nick and his partner, Gabriela, to a secretive and powerful 16th-century cult whose members have been performing ritualistic human sacrifices for more than 500 years. As the pair sets about casting light on the scope of evil perpetrated by the cult, they find themselves caught up in an international pursuit.

A.E. Lawrence is the pen name of Caledon resident Lawrence Ayliffe, founder and chief executive officer of a Toronto ad agency. (Friesen Press, $21.99)

The Traitor’s Brand

by Hugh Russel

On the eve of the Great War, retired British army officer James Wilson Horn’s curiosity is tweaked in a local graveyard when he notices a curious and insulting symbol from the Boer War carved on the headstone of a young man.

Soon enough, Horn and his friend, a fellow officer, are embroiled in a race to break up a German espionage cell on English soil.

In prose highly evocative of the prewar period, Russel weaves a tense, twisting and tantalizing thriller about the early days of British counter-intelligence.

A sculptor and author, Russel’s previous books are Kat in Harm’s Way and To Kill Kat. He lives in Mulmur. (Negative Space Publishing, $19.95)

Rise Again

by Ann Randeraad

A survivor of domestic violence, Ann Randeraad says her collection of poems was written to “show the raw edges, vulnerability and the rough path of enduring abuse … and finding a way to climb back out.”

In “Barricades,” she writes:

Maybe,

if I stop …

stop trying to build a wall,

and quickly gather

the pieces left

I can build

a shield instead

These heart-wrenching, but ultimately hopeful poems are panels in that shield.

A poet and potter, Randeraad lives in Amaranth. For many years she has sponsored Empty Bowls, a soup and handmade bowl fundraiser in support of local food banks. (Ann Randeraad, $21.95)

Afro, No!

by Amaya James

Sometimes your hair can feel like it has a personality of its own. This is doubly true for young Emmie whose Afro is so big and powerful that it’s actually the star of the story.

As Emmie explains, Afro can be soft and silky or puffed and rough depending on the day, and it sometimes even steals the comb! Afro’s least favourite time is Wash Day, when it dreads the thought of all the pulling and brushing and braiding. But despite the pain and challenges of her hair-care regimen, Afro is what Emmie likes most about herself.

Afro, No! takes a lighthearted look at the often complicated relationship that Black girls can have with their natural hair.

Amaya James, who illustrated and wrote this book, is a nine-year-old who lives in Shelburne, and the book is dedicated to “all the tender-headed girls who cry, like I do, on wash day.” (Summerhill Publishing, $14.95)

Me First

A Guide to Honoring Your Truth, Uncovering Your Power, and Cultivating More Joy!

by Julie Cass

Life and business coach Julie Cass believes that making yourself the priority is essential to both personal and professional success.

In this self-help book, Cass details why putting yourself first is not selfish, but rather essential to happiness and personal betterment. In the introduction, she lays out exactly what to expect from this thought-provoking read: “The whole meaning of this book is to understand why we have to put ourselves first and fall deeply and completely in love with ourselves in order to live a life that not only looks good on the outside but also feels good on the inside.”

Based in Inglewood, Cass is the founder of The Positive Change Group, which helps clients take a holistic approach to maximizing their potential. (YGTMedia, $22.95)

Scotsdale

An Ontario Rural Dream

by Margaret and Douglas Derry

Just south of Ballinafad sits beautiful Scotsdale Farm, now owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and open to visitors, Bruce Trail hikers and those interested in the lives of 20th-century Ontario gentleman farmers. Two of those farmers, Stewart and Letty Bennett, bought Scotsdale in 1938, and transformed a hardscrabble farm into a pre-eminent shorthorn-breeding showcase.

In meticulous detail, Margaret and Douglas Derry interweave the Bennetts’ story with the evolution of cattle- and horse-breeding in Ontario, the history of Acton’s Beardmore tannery and the development of Scotsdale – and how this 500-plus acre estate came into public hands. And the Derrys do not spare the Ontario Heritage Trust for its perceived neglect of the Bennetts’ rural dream.

Margaret Derry, artist, historian and former cattle breeder, and Douglas Derry, a fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, live in Caledon where they operate Poplar Lane Press. (Poplar Lane Press, $30)

Katie and Her Dinosaur

by Constance Scrafield

Kids love dinosaurs, but Katie really, really loves dinosaurs. So when she hears about a scientist who’s trying to clone a real dinosaur from 65-million-year-old bones found in Manitoba, she begs him to involve her.

Katie watches as the cells she first sees through a microscope develop into a baby dinosaur, which she dubs Magnifitop. When Katie and Magnifitop form a close bond, Dr. Boggles must figure out what would be the best home for the unique creature.

An Orangeville resident, Constance Scrafield also writes for the Orangeville Citizen. (Xlibris, $14.95)

Sydney’s Best Friend

by Emily Mallett, illustrated by Aneik Wilson

Sydney’s Best Friend tells the tale of a girl who thinks her cherished canine, Bella, is the best dog ever. But when a schoolmate is afraid of Bella, Sydney is hurt and confused. So she and her mother hatch a successful plan to change the boy’s mind. Recognizing that many people fear dogs, especially certain sizes or types of dogs, Emily Mallet weaves advice about how to safely interact with all dogs into this heartwarming story.

An animal advocate, Mallett lives in Orangeville. Part of the proceeds of the sale of her book are destined for the Throw Away Dogs Project. (Emily Mallett, $19.99)

The Fairies Have a Problem + Pierre Series

by Mary Scattergood

Young fans of author and artist Mary Scattergood will be delighted by The Fairies Have a Problem, the third in her There Are Fairies series, set at the bottom of her granddaughter Mary’s garden. When the fairies discover that a naughty elf is pulling up the flowers and making Mary sad, they set about making things right. (Burnham Publications, $19.95)

Inspired by her own Old Montreal series of paintings, Scattergood has also written and illustrated two books about Pierre. Written for young readers, the gentle stories Pierre and Pierre at School illustrate that although change can be scary, it can also inspire new understanding about kindness and respect. (Burnham Publications, $9 each)

All Scattergood’s books are enchantingly illustrated in her primitive, folk art style. The artist and writer lives in Orangeville.

Frog of Arcadia

by Blake Bobechko, illustrated by Matlock Bobechko

Thomas the toad dreams of visiting the lands described so invitingly in the open books he can read from his perch in his terrarium home. When he escapes the glass walls one day, he finds himself launched on an adventure that takes him to Arcadia, where rival frog clans are feuding in a “quarrelsome quagmire” while fending off their traditional enemies. Can the frogs find a way to unite?

Blake Bobechko’s imaginative tale of amphibian derring-do will appeal to young readers with a taste for swashbuckling fantasy. Bobechko’s brother, Matlock, contributed the delightful illustrations.

The Bobechko brothers live in Orangeville, where Blake is involved in children’s ministry at his church. (Friesen Press, $14.95)

Hannah Series + Bruno Series + Chances Are…

by Kelly Leslie

In both the Hannah Series and the Bruno Series for children aged four to eight, Kelly Leslie celebrates neurodiversity and the strengths of children with special needs. Join Hannah the anxious caterpillar and Bruno the autistic panda – and their friends – as they learn important lessons about kindness and inclusion.

With characters like a caterpillar with cerebral palsy and a butterfly with asthma, these illustrated books are a wonderful resource for young children. Each concludes with activity suggestions that provide a gateway to meaningful conversations about friendship and acceptance. (Kelly Leslie, $9.99 each)

Chances Are…, Leslie’s first novel for young adults, explores the trials and tribulations of the tumultuous teenage years. Seventeen-year-old Chance is known as a daredevil, though she would rather just curl up with a good book. When she’s invited to spend the summer at a Muskoka mansion with her wealthy boyfriend, Troy, she faces challenges related to peer pressure, young love and friction between friends and “frenemies,” as well as the inevitable teenage urge to take stupid risks. (Kelly Leslie, $11.99)

Co-founder of Believe Beyond Bounds, an organization dedicated to highlighting the capabilities of children with special needs, Leslie is a retired school principal who lives in Erin.

Do Trees Have Mothers?

by Charles Bongers

The title of this gently inspiring picture book, beautifully illustrated by the author, poses one of those questions that often stump parents of very young children. Charles Bongers to the rescue! He provides a heartwarming, science-based answer that will encourage children – and their parents – to pause in the forest with fresh appreciation for the ways mother trees protect and nurture their offspring and connect to other trees, as well as the vital role trees play in the overall health of the natural world.

A Toronto-based designer and illustrator committed to creating a sustainable future, Bongers is an occasional contributor to In The Hills. He has also written and illustrated The Family Forest Field Guide. (Douglas & McIntyre, $19.99)

Revernota

by J. Mitchel Reed

Three boys – Sammy, his best friend, Howie, and school bully Tommy – find themselves drawn into a world of mind-bending, shape-shifting alternative realities after a mysterious neighbour introduces them to a hidden dimension.

As the boys tap into a realm of powerful frequencies and possibilities and learn their neighbour’s true intent, Sammy must overcome his fears and discover his own destiny to become a “Revernota,” tasked with the great responsibility of protecting this fragile planet from exploitation.

An editor, cinematographer, videographer and director, Reed lives in Orangeville. Revernota, a work of fantasy for middle schoolers, is his first work of fiction. (Chicken House Press, $19.99)

Skipper Ches

As Tough as It Gets

by Fred Dyke

With a view to passing on to his children and grandchildren the family stories of bygone times in an outport on the rugged northeastern coast of Newfoundland, Fred Dyke tells the story of the industrious and courageous lives of his parents, Elsie and Ches Dyke.

Ches began life as the son of a single mother who left him with a relative and started a new life. By the age of nine, Ches was working at sea, viewing the ocean as both playground and workplace, and he went on to become “Skipper Ches,” a respected sea captain, boat builder and more.

A strong woman for an equally strong man, Elsie’s “in-service” background equipped her for life as a supportive wife and mother who raised seven talented, caring and ambitious children.

Born and raised in Newfoundland, Dyke is currently the pastor of Belfountain Village Church. (Flanker Press, $22)

Feed Your Soul

Creating a Healthy Mindset

by Tina Haller

We are what we eat – or so the saying goes – and Tina Haller wants us to do better and be better. In Feed Your Soul, Haller starts with the basics of why nutrition is important and why we need to pay attention to it, then goes on to tackle the common excuses many of us use to avoid fuelling our bodies with healthy foods, and offers strategies for finding the path to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness.

Part self-care, part practical exercises, Haller’s book also challenges us to put pen to paper and reframe our brains by writing about our food-related thoughts and behaviours.

A resident of Palgrave, Haller is a subconscious mind coach and holistic nutritionist. (RenewYou, $24.95)

 

Dead Man’s Doll + The Conned Lady

by Diane Bator

Audra Clemmings is back in Dead Man’s Doll, the second instalment of Diane Bator’s Sugarwood Mysteries. When Audra visits the shop of Miss Lavinia, Sugarwood’s herbalist, and finds the town’s former butcher stabbed to death and Miss Lavinia badly injured, the incident sets in motion a series of events whose consequences threaten to turn deadly.

In The Conned Lady, the fifth book in Bator’s series of Wild Blue Mysteries, Katie Mullins is startled when romance writer Mimsy Lexington confides that she killed her husband many years earlier. Katie wonders whether her aging friend, always a tad eccentric, has completely lost her grip on reality. Especially as Mimsy can’t recall the details of the murder – and asks Katie to help figure out how she committed it.

When Katie agrees, she and Danny Walker, her detective boyfriend, find themselves drawn ever deeper into a maze that shouts danger at every turn. Can the two sort out the clues before lives – their own and others’ – are put at risk?

Also the author of the Glitter Bay Mysteries and the Gilda Wright Mysteries, Bator lives in Orangeville. (BWL Publishing, $12.95 each)

Restore Your Life

Powerful Life Strategies to Navigate Menopause

by Kelly Nolan, BScPharm

Integrative practitioner Kelly Nolan says the motivation for writing her guide to navigating the hormonal rollercoaster of midlife came from personal experience.

“At 49 years old, I woke up one morning and looked at the stranger in the mirror,” she writes. “That moment was a jolt and the beginning of my journey.” This approachable and informative self-help book is divided into two parts.

In the first half, the Grand Valley-based author digs deep into particulars of perimenopausal and menopausal change. In the second half, she offers coaching and case studies to create an effective game plan for coping with, even embracing, what can be an empowering life phase. (Prominence Publishing, $19.99)

On the Edge

A Cole Buckman Novel

by Marina L. Reed with Don Hawkins

When Marina L. Reed sat down to write On the Edge, she found herself in uncharted territory: the arcane world of security intelligence. But Don Hawkins, a former police officer, had a story in mind, and he believed that Reed was the person to write it. Their collaboration resulted in the first book in what is slated to become a series featuring MI6 agent Cole Buckman.

When Cole’s father, a crown prosecutor, narrowly survives a courthouse shooting that kills several others, his son swings into action, assembling an off-the-books team to track down the assassins. The team’s mission leads them on an international hunt to foil the criminals who are intent on bringing down world governments.

Reed, who lives in Orangeville, has written several novels, as well as the Remember, It’s OK series with Marian Grace Boyd. A former police officer, Hawkins has a background in international security. (Chicken House Press, $16.99)

 

 

One Toke Over the Line + Mirrors of Invention, 1 & 2

by David Courtney

David Courtney’s new novel is, well, a trip. It follows narrator Caulfield through nightly fever dreams wrought by both Covid and a society seemingly in the thrall of lunatics and fanatics.

There is a story line, but this weighty tome is more prose poem than novel, and it’s probably easiest to consume Caulfield’s stream-of-altered-consciousness but often astute and epigrammatic social commentary in small, satisfying doses.

Like his novel, Courtney’s paintings, presented with the artist’s commentary in two volumes of Mirrors of Invention, are an exploration of the subconscious. Rendered in a bold brushwork and strong colours, his style pays homage to the likes of the Fauvists and Basquiat.

Courtney grew up in Orangeville and now lives in Belwood. (David Courtney, $25.95; Mirrors of Invention, $34.95 each)

Unscripted Spirits!

Cocktails from Friends of Theatre Orangeville

with Artistic Director David Nairn

The sequel to Raise Your Spirits: 21 Cocktails in 21 Acts published in 2020, Unscripted Spirits follows Theatre Orangeville artistic director David Nairn and Friends of Theatre Orangeville as they continue the high-spirited and good-humoured exploration of favourite cocktails that made their first book such a hit. Seventeen tested and tasted creations shaken and stirred by the likes of Bernadette Hardaker, Rod Beattie and Trevor Cole make this collection the perfect stocking stuffer for each of your fun friends.

All proceeds from the sale of Unscripted Spirits go to Theatre Orangeville programming. Copies are limited and can be purchased only at Theatre Orangeville and BookLore. (Theatre Orangeville, $20)

Waaskone

by Ron McCormack

Inspired by local legends, Ron McCormack’s latest novel is set near the North Channel of Lake Huron.

At an early age, twins Marie and Andrew Baxter were forced to deal with the death of their parents in a boating accident, and they come to believe what locals call the “Baxter curse” pushed the boundaries of family misfortune. So when their grandfather dies mysteriously, the twins decide to take a closer look – and find themselves caught up in a mystery with deadly consequences.

Also the author of The Big Play and The Secrets of Mudge Bay, McCormack lives in Bolton. (Ron McCormack, $19.95)

Shadow Phoenix

Volume 1, Episodes 1–4 and Episodes 5–8

by MJ Moores

In these episodic Victorian-era steampunk jaunts, spunky female protagonist Louisa is stuck working as a maid until her smarts land her a new position as assistant to her employer, an inventor desperate to make it rain and end London’s long drought.

After Louisa rescues a young boy from the clutches of thugs, she finds herself portrayed in the newspapers as the masked guardian of the city – and her adventures begin.

Over the course of eight fast-paced episodes, MJ Moores follows Louisa as she treads a path between high society and the lower rungs, and takes her rightful place in the world.

A Caledon Village resident, Moores has also written The Chronicles of Xannia series, as well as several fantasy and romance novels. (Infinite Pathways Press, $20 each)

The Ongoing

by Joni Grâce

Inspired by her time contemplating the scenic shores of Georgian Bay, as well as her travels throughout North America, Joni Grâce’s third collection of poetry reflects her lifelong passion for the “greening” of soil and soul, an “exquisite, even extravagant, movement toward home.”

Her writing shows an affinity for the natural world and its deep interconnection with human nature. To read Grâce’s work is to enter a realm of lush landscapes, glorious suns, fertile soil and changing seasons.

Writing under the nom de plume Joni Grâce, the poet lives in Mono. Her previous collections are Feeling in the Gap and Carried Away. (Bluegreening Press, $20)

What If Jack Wasn’t So Nimble?

Mother Goose Characters Reimagined — A Collection of Light Verse for Adults

by Colin McNairn, illustrated by Rosie Pittas

In this followup to last year’s Signs of the Times, Colin McNairn once again turns his quirky sense of humour to casting a contemporary turn on the nursery rhymes many of us grew up with.

From Humpty Dumpty unable to make up his mind and so perching firmly on the fence, and Pussy Cat who went to visit the queen only to find that the exterminator had already been, to the titular Jack at risk of setting his tush alight, McNairn’s reconceived rhymes are sure to elicit smiles.

McNairn, who divides his time between Mulmur and Toronto, is also the author of Sports Talk and In a Manner of Speaking. (Friesen Press, $22.95)

Lethal Keystrokes

by John D. May

John D. May’s character-rich page turner plunges deep into the world of virtual assistant technology, and how volatile and damaging it can be in the hands of hackers and extremists.

May thoughtfully and methodically develops several plotlines, eventually merging them in surprising and shocking ways. Structured over eight consecutive days in June 2018, the narrative moves quickly and succinctly, making this story hard to step away from. You’ll need to dedicate a day to starting and finishing this one.

May divides his time between a home in Mulmur and another in the south of France. (Granville Island Publishing, $19.95)

A Beginner’s Guide to Separation Anxiety

by Jo van Hoogmoed

This very contemporary tale starts with – what else? – a Zoom meeting, as protagonist Portia Weaver faces the most unsettling of personal changes: retirement and divorce. And these distressing events are complicated to say the least.

Jo van Hoogmoed’s narrative takes more than a few unconventional turns – and this is a read you need to be fully immersed in because if you miss a minute, you miss a lot!

One of the most appealing aspects of the book is a talking greyhound who boasts very special attributes that help guide Portia through her life.

Van Hoogmoed lives in Orangeville with Hillary, her own very special retired racing greyhound. (Tellwell Talent, $17)

 

  • Compiled by Emily Dickson, Gail Grant, Alison McGill, Dyanne Rivers, Ellie Eberlee and Signe Ball.

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