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On Our Radar

New books by Philippa Dowding, Jennica Harper, Dan Leger, Karen Hofmann, and Laurel Croza and Matt James

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.


Book Cover Strange Gift

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding

From Danielle's review at Bookish Notions: "Gwendolyn Golden isn’t your average tweenager. Ever since her dad mysteriously vanished during a storm, she finds herself yelling, unable to stop. Now, as if she needed something else to set her apart from the other kids at school, she wakes up with the ability to fly, er, float. The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding tells the story of how Gwendolyn deals with her curious new ability and how it turns her world upside down (both literally and figuratively).

With one of the best opening scenes I’ve read in a long time, Gwendolyn Golden is an absolutely charming read from page one. I was instantly curious about this girl who wakes up on her bedroom ceiling, and I am not ashamed to admit that it had me giggling on more than one occasion."



Book Cover Wood

Wood by Jennica Harper

From Natalie Zina Walschots' review at Quill & Quire: "In her third collection, Jennica Harper engages with pop culture with a deep understanding of exactly how captivating fiction can be and how deeply we connect with imaginary characters. Harper, who also writes for the Showcase series, Mr. Young, has a complex understanding of the nature of fictional relationships. The strongest poems, and the strangest, belong to the sections that bookend the collection: 'Realboys,' about the physical transformation of the wooden puppet Pinocchio, and 'Roots: The Sally Draper Poems,' which give a rich and radiant voice to the eponymous Mad Men character as she contends with the rage and adoration she feels toward her father."



Book Cover Duffy

Duffy: Stardom to Senate to Scandal by Dan Leger

From Alan Holman's column at The Guardian: "Most of the book is about Mike Duffy’s time in the Senate. His conversion from a journalist to a rabid partisan and the scandal that ensued over his billing the Senate for expenses while living in his Ottawa home, expenses while on the campaign trail for the Conservative Party and for contracts given to former colleagues….

Mr. Leger writes he started the book in the spring, 'as the rot was ripening.' The rot continues to ripen. Senators Brazeau and Harb have been charged and it’s likely so will Senators Duffy and Wallin. But, this will only mark the end of the beginning. The court cases will be another chapter in this on-going saga."



Book Cover After Alice

After Alice by Karen Hofmann

From Julienne Isaacs' review at The Winnipeg Review: "Yielding and unyielding, barren and fruitful, rocky and rich—the qualities of land form a foundation for After Alice, Kamloops, BC writer Karen Hofmann’s first novel (she has also published a book of poems, Water Strider).

In Alice, the land is sometimes 'scattered with dead and dying pines, blocking the light,' sometimes 'draped with … orchards, the fruit trees so well adapted to the surfeit of sun.' In the orchards, 'the trees [stand] in their rows, pale green and white, like lace tossed on a lawn.' In the lakes dotting the landscape, 'the water in the evening light waves green and gold.'

The landscape of BC’s Okanagan Valley is central to After Alice—it doesn’t become 'another character in the story,' as the cliché goes, but in countless ways informs the psychology of this lovely, moving novel."



Book Cover From There to Here

From There to Here by Laurel Croza and Matt James

From the review at CanLit for LittleCanadians: "Laurel Croza's clean text emphasizes the simple thought processes of the girl as she navigates her mindset from the country to her new urban setting. It's succinct but progressive. And illustrator Matt James, who won the 2013 Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration,emphasizes with elegance the differences between the 'there' and the 'here,' never making one look better than the other, just different but similar. Matt James juxtaposes the colours and lines of trees with bed-frames and windows blinds, or the northern lights and the street lamps, with such refinement. As in any great picture book, the text should be complemented by the illustrations, as Laurel Croza and Matt James have done so easily in From There to Here. They found the means to endow memories and new experiences with the quality of perspective, effortlessly taking the reader on a smooth journey From There to Here."

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