Book Talks: Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce is a charming debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is doing her bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typing for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: Any letters containing “Unpleasantness” must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, who may have gone too far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

The novel Dear Mrs. Bird, will appeal to fans of Lilac Girls or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Readers will be transformed by author AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in November 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

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Library Moments: November Online Book Club

Noelia Marziali, Community of Making Animator: Hello, I’m Noelia Marziali from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

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The theme for November’s Online Book Club is “Take a Break and Escape from Politics”. Lately, news headlines seem to discuss nothing but politics. And while it’s important to stay abreast of current events, sometimes you need a break – a light-hearted book to help you escape. Today Nancy Therrien and I will each discuss one of the four titles chosen for November’s Online Book Club.

Nancy Therrien, Programming and Outreach Coordinator: The Windfall: a novel by Diksha Basu about a family in India that suddenly comes into great wealth and their struggles to adapt to a lifestyle befitting their new socio-economic status.

From the publisher’s description: For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha receives an enormous sum of money, $20 million, for the sale of his website, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all. The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters.

If you enjoy reading about different cultures, with a humorous take on “keeping up with the Joneses,” The Windfall by Diksha Basu may be the novel for you.

Noelia Marziali:  A Confederacy of Dunces is a masterpiece of satire and irony. Author John Kennedy Toole is a worthy recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for best novel. Toole’s hero, Ignatius J. Reilly, has been described as a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with original characters, denizens of New Orleans’ lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures.

Ignatius, a  30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, he pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge.

Our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. Ignatius’s path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Lana Lee and her talented cockatoo; the elderly secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are comically thwarted; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you’ll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius–selfish, domineering, and deluded, who carries the story. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life.

Noelia:  Anyone is welcome to participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of the four books selected each month. You can go online and make comments about specific books or reading in general. To check out the Haliburton County Public Library Online Book Club, visit the website haliburtonlibrary.ca and click on the “g” for Goodreads. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 CANOE FM.

*Originally aired in November 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

Book Talks: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. The story of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold.

This  new novel from Kate Morton,  author of The Lake House – tells of a love affair and a mysterious murder that spans generations, set in England from the 1860’s until the present day. In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate Edward Radcliffe descend upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of a woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton is available to borrow at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in November 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM

Library Moments: Remembrance Day

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Hello, I’m Sherrill Sherwood from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

Because war has been a near constant part of human history, so too has it been a topic to write about through the ages. These works, fiction and non-fiction, offer various perspectives on past conflicts, tell cautionary tales, and present readers with a great deal to learn and think about.

This week, in commemoration of Remembrance Day, Nancy Therrien and I will each talk about a book written by a Canadian author with war as the main event.

Nancy Therrien, Programming & Outreach Coordinator:  The non-fiction title, Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War, by award-winning journalist Carol Off, is about a Canadian peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia. The problem was that Canadian peacekeepers in Medak Pocket, Croatia, found no peace to keep back in September 1993.

The publisher’s description in the book is as follows:   For seven days, faced with the ethnic cleansing of Serb civilians by Croatian forces, the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) took a stand, engaged the forces of ethnic cleansing in a deadly firefight and drove them from the area under United Nations protection. The soldiers should have returned home as heroes. Instead, they arrived under a cloud of suspicion and silence.

In Medak Pocket, members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry did exactly the job they were trained — and ordered — to do. When attacked by the Croat army they returned fire and fought back valiantly to protect Serbian civilians and to save the UN mandate in Croatia. Then they confronted the horrors of the offensive’s aftermath — the annihilation by the Croat army of Serbian villages. The Canadians searched for survivors. There were none.

The soldiers came home haunted by these atrocities, but in the wake of the Somalia affair, Canada had no time for soldiers’ stories of the horrific compromises of battle — the peacekeepers were silenced. In time, the dark secrets of Medak’s horrors drove many of these soldiers to despair, to homelessness and even suicide.

The Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War is a story that needs to be heard, and Carol Off gives it justice.

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: In Come from Away, a novel by Genevieve Graham, it is the fall of 1939. Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the home front and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumors swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store. Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamored by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be. He is someone else entirely–someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she first thought. Come from Away is a mesmerizing story set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.

That’s it for this week’s Library Moments. Please take a moment this week to reflect on the horrors of war but also the beauty of peace and how lucky we are to live where we do. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired in November 2018 on 100.9 Canoe FM.

Book Talks: Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War

The non-fiction title, Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War, by award-winning journalist Carol Off, is discusses a little-known event during the Canadian peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia.

Unfortunately, Canadian peacekeepers in Medak Pocket, Croatia, found no peace to keep back in September 1993. For seven days, faced with the ethnic cleansing of Serb civilians by Croatian forces, the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) took a stand, engaged the forces of ethnic cleansing in a deadly firefight and drove them from the area under United Nations protection. The soldiers should have returned home as heroes. Instead, they arrived under a cloud of suspicion and silence.

In Medak Pocket, members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry did exactly the job they were trained — and ordered — to do. When attacked by the Croat army they returned fire and fought back valiantly to protect Serbian civilians and to save the UN mandate in Croatia. Then they confronted the horrors of the offensive’s aftermath — the annihilation by the Croat army of Serbian villages. The Canadians searched for survivors. There were none.

The soldiers came home haunted by these atrocities, but in the wake of the Somalia affair, Canada had no time for soldiers’ stories of the horrific compromises of battle — the peacekeepers were silenced. In time, the dark secrets of Medak’s horrors drove many of these soldiers to despair, to homelessness and even suicide.

Award-winning journalist Carol Off brings to life a decisive battle of the Canadian Forces in The Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War.

*Originally aired in November 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

Library Moments: Spooky Stories

Nancy Therrien, Programming & Outreach Coordinator: Hello, I’m Nancy Therrien from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

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Autumn is the perfect time of year to read some spooky stories. Spooky stories can be scary, creepy and full of horror-inducing nightmares, or they can be humour-infused tales involving ghosts, witches, werewolves, vampires, demons or other supernatural beings. Today Sherrill Sherwood and I will each discuss a spooky novel, so that you can have something spine-tingling to keep you awake late at night.

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Realizing that we would be dedicating this week’s Library Moments to spooky stories, I needed to search for a book to talk about since scary tales are not my usual go to. I chose a book published in 1962, written by Shirley Jackson, and loved it.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle tells the story of Mary Katherine Blackwood, known as Merricat, who lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp. This was Shirley Jackson’s final book, considered by many to be her dark masterpiece. A film adaptation is scheduled for release soon.  

Nancy Therrien: The novel The Broken Girls by Simone St. James was published in 2018. It is a gripping tale about secrets and murders on the grounds of a haunted boarding school. There are two timelines occurring in Barrons, Vermont in both 1950 and 2014 interwoven in this paranormal mystery.

Vermont 1950: Four unwanted girls are roommates at the boarding school called Idlewild. Then one of them mysteriously disappears. Fast forward to Vermont in 2014: Journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot overcome the murder of her sister 20 years ago on the grounds of the now shuttered and decaying Idlewild Hall. Even though the killer is behind locked bars, Fiona continues to investigate the case. She discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored and decides to write a news story about it. Then, there is a horrifying discovery during the renovations that unearths terrible secrets about past happenings at Idlewild.

The book The Broken Girls is more Gothic mystery than gory horror. The story has an intensifying pace with lots of twists and turns. Chances are, you won’t be able to put it down till the last word.

Nancy Therrien, Programming & Outreach Coordinator: The books We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Broken Girls are available to borrow at the Haliburton County Public Library. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired in October 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

Book Talks: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, a novel by Heather Morris, is a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions. In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a tattooist, tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism–but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. One day in July 1942, Lale comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. In that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her. This novel is a vivid, disturbing, and ultimately hopeful recreation of Lale’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners, with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. The Tattooist of Auschwitz can be reserved at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in October 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.