Summer reading guide
Even people who don’t consider themselves bibliophiles look forward to relaxing in the summer sun with a book. “It’s a time when people want to come back to life, reconnect and do some fun stuff and this is why we push the new titles and present some of the newer authors and talent to readers,” says Robbie MacGregor, publisher at Invisible Publishing. He adds that the spring and summer gives authors a chance to connect with fans at readings, book launches and other events.
Whether its non-fiction, fiction, poetry, or children’s books, this season Atlantic Canadian authors have given readers a lot of titles to choose from. MacGregor says that when choosing a book it’s all about what draws and keeps your attention, from the first words to long after you’ve finished.
“Whether they’re a reader of Canadian lit or someone who’s tackling the blockbuster thriller of the season, there’s that experience of being drawn into a story and being presented with characters who, even if they are not quite like you, reflect something back to you about yourself,” he says.
Read on for Halifax Magazine’s suggestions for your summer book picks.
Andrew Cobb: Artist and Architect
By Janet Kitz
Unless you run with the Heritage Trust gang, you may not know who Andrew Cobb is; he was synonymous with Atlantic Canadian architecture during the first half the twentieth century. Cobb designed some of the area’s most notable buildings, such as sections of the University King’s College and the Dingle Tower in Halifax. Other notable designs are the Glynmill Inn in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Mount Allison University’s Memorial Library in Sackville, New Brunswick.
The publisher describes this book as a detailed visual biography. Andrew Cobb: Artist and Architect features many photos to supplement the text. These photos will not only highlight key parts of Cobb’s life, but his architectural contributions by showing the beauty and creativity behind his work. Of course, that’s not the only the reason the book will be a great summer read. Author Janet Kitz, best known for her extensive work on the Halifax Explosion, offers abundant fresh insight into Cobb’s life and designs. Andrew Cobb: Artist and Architect was released in June.
Winds of Change: The Life and Legacy of Calvin W. Ruck
By Lindsay R. Ruck
Born in the 1920s in Sydney, Calvin Ruck fought social injustice and racism. He worked to ensure that his children and future generations wouldn’t face the same inequality as he did. He was also dedicated to making sure that people remember the wartime contributions of black Canadians. The author of two books, Ruck told the story of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the only African-Canadian Battalion to serve in World War One.
Now, 10 years after his death, Ruck’s granddaughter is telling his own story with Winds of Change. Even though this is Lindsay Ruck’s first book, she uses this connection to tell a heartfelt story filled with adversity, and the triumph of a man whose dedication never wavered. Winds of Change: The Life and Legacy of Calvin W. Ruck was released in May.
Lobster: 40 Delicious Recipes for Canada’s East Coast Delicacy
By Elaine Elliot and Virginia Lee
If you’re someone who thinks that all you can do with lobster is eat from the shell or put it in a chowder, then you’re in for a surprise. In Lobster: 40 Delicious Recipes, Elaine Elliot and Virginia Lee have gathered meal ideas from East Coast chefs and compiled them into a cookbook. They aim to show there is more than one way enjoy this classic summer dish with recipes, such as Lobster Mac ’N Cheese, Lobster Poutine and Lobster Caesar Salad.
Along with the recipes, the book also offers a few interesting facts about the shellfish such as how Canadian lobsters are different from American lobsters and how to tell which lobsters have the most meat. Lobster: 40 Delicious Recipes for Canada’s East Coast Delicacy was released in May.
The Lynching of Peter Wheeler
Goose Lane Editions
By Debra Kormar
The second of four planned true-crime books from Debra Kormar, The Lynching of Peter Wheeler examines the murder of Annie Kempton and execution of Peter Wheeler for the crime. In 1896, 14-year-old Kempton was found dead in her parents’ home in Bear River, Nova Scotia. The community almost immediately accused immigrant and Bear River resident Peter Wheeler of murder. Despite a trial, these accusations eventually led to Wheeler’s execution in the form a state-sanctioned lynching. The crime was also one the first in Canada to allow forensic evidence in the courtroom. Although it is also a case that highlights racial prejudices and how a rush to judgement, by those attempting to find justice, led to a man’s wrongful conviction.
As a forensic anthropologist, Kormar, in her book, examines the crime through a more modern forensic lens that will provide readers with a different, fairer analysis of the century old crime. The Lynching of Peter Wheeler was released in March.
Grist: A Novel
By Linda Little
An established novelist, Linda Little confronts themes of isolation, loss, regret and determination with Grist. After marrying a miller and settling in at their home in Gunn Brooke, Penelope MacLaughlin realizes that life wasn’t what she thought it would be. Faced with trying to provide for her family when her husband leaves for extended periods, MacLaughlin struggles to save herself and her family from the situation they’ve been left in.
As a fiction author, Little is known for her deeply compelling, thought-provoking and honest works that use Nova Scotia as backdrop. As a character, Penelope MacLaughlin will most certainly be joining the ranks of Little’s other memorable characters: Jackson Bigney and Cass Hutt, while the story will remain with readers long after the book is finished. Grist was released in May.
The Maze: A Thomas Pichon Novel
Cape Breton University Press
By A.J.B. Johnston
Historical fiction is a tough genre—some writers fall in love with the history at the expense of their story, others take too many creative liberties. A.J.B. Johnston certainly doesn’t suffer from either problem. He is able to blend fact and fiction with ease, throwing in a dash of drama, romance and adventure for good measure. This is an approach that was successfully used in 2012’s Thomas: A Secret Life and this year’s follow-up The Maze: A Thomas Pichon Novel.
The real Thomas Pichon was a French agent who, during eighteenth century, betrayed his country by providing information to British forces leading to their victory at the Battle of Beausejour. In his work, Johnston has fictionalized Pichon’s early life. The Maze picks up where A Secret Life left off with Pichon’s extramarital affair being discovered for a second time. This discovery causes Pichon and his mistress to flee to London where they are forced to find their way in a strange, new city.
The Maze: A Thomas Pichon Novel was released in June.
The Night is Found
Fierce Ink Press
By Kat Kruger
Every good story has a beginning, middle and end and for Kat Kruger’s The Magdeburg Trilogy that end is with The Night is Found. As with her previous releases, The Night has Teeth and The Night has Claws, The Night is Found follows the continued adventures of werewolf Connor Lewis. In this last book, Lewis fights to save and unite the werewolf packs against common enemies before they are driven into extinction.
Aimed at a young adult audience, The Magdeburg Trilogy has become a series that not only appeals to older readers as well, but those who are new to the fantasy genre thanks to a group of well-written characters and plot lines. The Night Has Found will not only become a welcomed bookshelf addition for fans of the series, but those looking for something different to add to their summer reading list. The Night is Found will be released in July.
Flight of the Griffons
By Kate Inglis, Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Adventure, memorable characters, humour with dramatic undertones and a surreal plot are all pieces that make up a great children’s book. Kate Inglis and Sydney Smith’s Flight of the Griffons is no exception. A sequel to 2010’s The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, Flight of the Griffons focuses on Missy Bullseye when she leaves the pirates introduced in the first book and sets out on her own. She ends up getting a job where she has to spy on another pirate crew, thus going against the people she once worked alongside.
As with any book series, it’s always good to see more than one character become the focus of a book or two. Since Missy is one of the most intriguing characters from The Dread Crew, she is rightly taking centre stage in an action-packed and enjoyable book for young readers. Flight of the Griffons was released in April.
Halifax Harbour 123
Written and illustrated by Yolanda Popawska
You’ll find Atlantic Lit for your youngest readers, too. Using Halifax as a backdrop, Yolanda Popawska’s Halifax Harbour 123 is designed to teach children how to count, but it can be used for much more than that. Due to Popawska’s detailed and eye-catching drawings the board book will also be a title that children too young to count can enjoy as well. It will also encourage older children to ask questions about items and objects they may or may not be familiar with, such as container ships, dolphins and starfish.
If Popawska’s past work with Theodore Too and Halifax ABC is any indication, Halifax Harbour 123 will become a book that children will want to bring along during long car rides or afternoon trips to the Halifax Waterfront. Halifax Harbour 123 was released in May.
By Geordie Miller
Life isn’t a straightforward experience, so neither should the poetry that uses it as a theme. Geordie Miller’s first release Re:union is a “bundle of lyrics, prose, and postcards” that encompasses many different aspects of verse.
Through his use of “conversational, lyrical, and unconventional” prose, Miller sets out to achieve a well-rounded look at family, love, culture and a sense of place through personal stories, observations and reflections that have both serious and humorous overtones. Thanks to Miller’s creative style, Re:union will resonate long after the poems have been read, as the reader will continually wonder about the stories behind the words. Re:union was released in April.
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.