April 2021 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 character-driven YA novel, a couple books for kids (both fiction and non-fiction), and a gripping historical drama.

Kristin suggests Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley

“The story begins by introducing Apple Starkington, a precocious teenager who has grown up as an outsider in a typical American town. She lives with her wealthy father who has remarried and refuses to talk about her Ojibwe mother, who named Apple on her deathbed. Apple is quirky and curious, but blurts things out too fast, struggles to fit in and has no friends. To make matters worse, she has tried to hide her Native American heritage ever since the moment she was called a racial slur by a fellow classmate. However, everything changes for Apple one summer when her father gives her the boot and sends her to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation to see her mother’s family. This novel is suitable for both teen and adult readers alike because the author does a fabulous job of developing the characters realistically and by accurately displaying how difficult it can be for a young person to exist in the space between different cultures.”

Coleen suggests The No-Cook Cookbook by DK

“With children back at school, you may be looking for new lunch and after-school snack ideas – why not try checking out The No-Cook Cookbook: More than 50 Heat-Free Recipes for Young Chefs – not only do you get healthy, homemade alternatives, you can also feel comfortable letting the kids take the lead in the kitchen without the worry about teaching stove etiquette. Easy to follow recipes with great pictures and easy recipe variations for your picky eaters are complemented by ‘grow-your-own’ sections which you can use to inspire interest in where food comes from and create an afterschool activity. From overnight oats to apple doughnuts, you are sure to find more than one go-to recipe. I will be enjoying a chocolate power ball while planting my tomato seeds.”

Marg suggests The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

“Set during the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which resulted in a blazing inferno engulfing the city, this work of fiction is terrifyingly and convincingly realistic. Irish emigrant Sophie Whelan is leading a miserable life in a New York City tenement when she answers a “Mail Order Bride” advertisement placed by a widowed San Franciscan father named Martin. Although she has never met her handsome, mysterious husband-to-be she believes she can learn to love him. Sophie soon starts to question Martin’s secretive life, which often takes him away from home. On the eve of the Great Earthquake, a young, pregnant woman named Belinda shows up at Sophie’s door and Martin’s web of lies and deceptions soon start to unravel. The women collaborate to uncover Martin’s secrets and soon discover something even more devastatingly life-changing for all involved. As Sophie and Belinda attempt to make sense out of all they have learned the catastrophic earthquake strikes and the course of their lives is forever changed. This electrifyingly, atmospheric story of survival and friendship has it all: great storylines, mystery, intrigue, and wonderful character development.”

Karen suggests Life in the Balance by Jen Petro-Roy

“Veronica lives and breathes softball, and has been waiting for years to be old enough to try out for the all-star team – then just before tryouts, her parents announce that her mom’s going into rehab for at least two months to deal with alcoholism. Veronica’s other love is singing, and when her dad tells her they may not be able to afford the all-star league, she decides, along with her new friend Libby, to enter the town talent show to try to win money to cover the costs. The thing is, tryouts are causing her a lot of stress…and singing is just fun. Does she really want to be on the all-star team after all? This juvenile read offers a beautiful, realistic look at addiction and its effects on a family.”

Julie suggests A Funny Kind of Paradise by Jo Owens

“I loved the unique voice used to tell this story. The novel is narrated by Frannie, a resident of an extended care home who has been partially paralyzed and left speechless due to a debilitating stroke. Despite this, she does not miss a beat while taking in everything happening around her with staff, other residents, and reflecting on her life before the stroke. I think part of the reason this novel resonates with me is its familiarity of our time working at the JMPC when libraries were closed at the start of the pandemic. Frannie has a certain chutzpah that you could see in many of the residents there.  Owens draws on her own experiences working in extended care to write this and you can tell she loves what she does, warts and all. I look forward to the next book by this debut author.”

All of these titles can be reserved online with your library card at CountyLibrary.ca.

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