February staff picks roundup

Catherine Coles
Coles’ Notes

The staff of the County of L&A Libraries are avid readers and always eager to share their favourite books. Here we bring you a list of some of the reads we’ve recently enjoyed. This month you’ll find a fascinating history of cobalt mining, an uplifting children’s picture book, and an intriguing historical read for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing.

Julie suggests Colbalt by Charlie Angus

“With the demand for cobalt in today’s society, Charlie Angus’ book Cobalt: Cradle of the Demon Metals Birth of a Mining Town writes about the history and its impact of cobalt mining from its first discovery in Cobalt, Ontario to current day.  This book covers a lot without seeming heavy handed. It offers a social history of frontier life, an economic lesson in the rise and fall of a boomtown, and commentary on indigenous relations and the impact of mining on the environment. Angus writes a very readable non-fiction. This book packs quite the punch in the vein of Charlotte Gray’s Gold Diggers and Murdered Midas.”

Karen suggests The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

“How can a brand new house hold such dark secrets? Kayla and husband, both architects, had designed together and were building, their dream home in a high end new subdivision in their quiet little town of Round Hill, North Carolina when her husband was tragically killed in a construction accident. Having already given up their former home, Kayla has no choice but to move in, along with her four-year-old daughter, even though the house already holds sad memories and the woods surrounding the property now feel dark and claustrophobic more than welcoming. Especially considering the visit she gets at work from a strange older woman who warns her not to move in. The Last House on the Street is a compelling, moving, and suspenseful story that intensifies as it progresses, and will be welcomed by all Diane Chamberlain fans, and perfect for readers of Karen White, Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, or Therese Fowler’s A Good Neighborhood.”

Amy suggests The Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe

The Spoon Stealer is a historical story about a charming and loud old woman who steals spoons. It is also so much more: family secrets, women’s friendship, lovable animals, and immense heart. Using humour and wit, the story of Emmeline Darling slowly unfolds from her early life in rural Nova Scotia to the life she makes for herself and her little white dog Vera, in England. Vera is an excellent conversationalist and the story unfolds through many human-dog interactions, so if you’re not a fan of furry friends this may be off putting but I think it really speaks to our main character’s loneliness and longing for friendship. When we first meet Emmeline she has decided to make a greater effort to talk to more humans. She joins a memoir writing course at her local library, where the other members of the course don’t know what to make of her. Offending and inspiring in equal measure, she tells the riveting tale of her life and charms the lot of them. When Emmeline unexpectedly inherits the farm she grew up on, she decides to leave her new friends and make the exhausting journey home. She blunders through the reunion with the singular goal of setting to right the family so broken by loss and secrecy. I laughed and cried my way through this heartbreaking story and I’m so glad I read it.”

Jennifer suggests Change Sings by Amanda Gorman

“Change Sings offers a timely reminder to embody the change we want to see in the world. In this picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, a young girl inspires other children to take small steps towards making a big difference in their neighbourhood. The girl and her newfound companions model several examples of small actions a child (or anyone for that matter) could take to support various causes: cleaning up a park (environmental activism), feeding a homeless family (food justice), building a ramp (disability equality,) and delivering groceries to an elderly woman (gender justice.) The book underscores that small acts in your daily life can have a big impact in supporting the wider community.”

Marg suggests The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustain

“For those of you who enjoyed the immensely popular Where the Crawdads Sing, I suggest you check out The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustain. This powerful, atmospheric coming of age tale centers on two young girls growing up in poverty and abuse in 1920’s Natchez Trace, Mississippi. Sixteen-year-old runaway Ada reluctantly returns to her stilt house in the swamps after her boyfriend abandons her and she discovers she is pregnant. Confronted by her alcoholic, abusive father she learns the horrifying truth surrounding the deaths of her mother and baby sister. When her father’s rage focuses on Ada she fears her fate will be similar to that of her mother. Seventeen-year-old Matilda, the daughter of a black sharecropper, happens upon the frightening confrontation and comes to the aid of Ada. Matilda has suffered prejudice and her life has been filled with tragedy. She lives in poverty with her family who hope someday to buy their own land to farm. To this end, Matilda’s father sells bootleg liquor to supplement his meager income, which ultimately lands him and his family in a heap of trouble. Brought together by a strange twist of fate and terrible violence the two young women forge an uneasy but unbreakable bond as their lives become intertwined.”

All of these items can be reserved from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online at CountyLibrary.ca.

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