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Feels Like Summer 2016

Our pick of great new books that celebrate the season. 

Book Cover The Dancehall Years

Novels, picture books, cookbooks, a cottage reference guide and a colouring book make list this a cross-genre feast of summer delights that will help you make the most of the season.


The Dancehall Years, by Joan Haggerty

About the book: Both an epic adventure and an interracial drama, this spellbinding novel brims with gorgeous writing. The complex family saga begins one summer on Bowen Island and in Vancouver during the Depression and moves through Pearl Harbour, the evacuation of the Japanese and three generations into the 1980s. Gwen Killam is a child whose idyllic island summers are obliterated by the war and consequent dramatically changed behaviour of the adults around her. Her swimming teacher, Takumi, disappears along with his parents. The Lower Mainland is in blackout, and Gwen’s beloved Aunt Isabelle painfully realizes she must make an unthinkable sacrifice.

The island’s dance hall, a well-known destination for both soldiers on leave and summer picnickers, becomes the emotional landmark for time passing and time remembered.

Why we're taking notice: This is a novel twenty years in the making. Haggerty's previous book, The Invitation, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 1994.


Book Cover Beach Baby

Beach Baby, by Laurie Elmquist and Elly Mackay

About the book: A gentle, poetic lullaby for baby, filled with memories from a perfect day playing on the beach. Castles, sand dollars, seals peering out of the waves and the beat of the ocean become sweet reminders of all the magical things that await baby tomorrow. A lyrical celebration of natural beauty and a soft, reassuring reminder for little ones being tucked into bed that fun and adventure will return with a new day.

Why we're taking notice: We're simply besotted with the work of Elly Mackay and her paper theatre illustrations, which here are nicely matched with Elquist's verse. 


Book Cover Mating for Life

Mating for Life, by Marissa Stapley

About the book: Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child, raising three daughters, Liane, Ilsa and Fiona (each by different fathers) largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her—and while she’s fearful of losing him, she’s equally afraid she’ll betray everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.

Her youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with the love of her life. But he has an ex-wife and two daughters—and her new role as “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, which makes her own past harder to ignore. To regain stability, she must face some hard truths, and alter her impossibly high expectations.

Why we're taking notice: Okay, we're cheating, because this book first came out two years ago, but a brand new edition of a perfect summer read is certainly something to celebrate. 


Book Cover Diva Q's BBQ

Diva Q's Barbecue, by Danielle Bennett

About the book: Diva Q's (aka Danielle Bennett's) backyard barbecue book is packed with simple recipes for casual, down-to-earth family food. Get started with the six recipes you need to know most, then move to chapters on appetizers, pork, bacon (Diva Q's claim to fame), beef, fowl, seafood, sides, salads, slaws, breads and desserts, that take you from the basics to the best the barbecue world has to offer. Plenty of meatless options are included, including Portobello-Cheddar Burgers, Smokin' Good Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon Butter and The Ultimate Mac and Cheese. 

With more than just recipes, Diva Q takes all the guesswork out of grilling for you, with guidance on everying from getting great char marks, to picking the right meat—and even points you to her YouTube videos online for extra help. If it's got anything to do with barbecue, Diva Q has got you covered! 

Diva Q's Barbecue is an indispensable book for every backyard barbecuer, and the perfect companion when cooking for a crowd. So fire up the grill and invite your friends over—because life's too short for bad barbecue!

Why we're taking notice: Diva Q is host of the hit TV show BBQ Crawl and her first book sounds delicious. 


Book Cover The Company of Crows

The Company of Crows, by Karen Molson

About the book: At thirteen, bookish Veronica Reid lives in a world inside her head, even if she isn't entirely successful at resisting the intrusions of the world outside. It's bad enough that she has to wear awful new glasses; it's downright disastrous that she'll have to spend the summer at Laughing Willows Trailer Park with her obnoxious younger brothers and unhappy mother. She can't imagine anything worse. Lonely and bored, she begins to observe the activities of the local crows, even as she gradually finds a community among the odd denizens of Laughing Willows. When violence erupts, she finds unexpected strength both inside herself and in the people—and the crows—around her.

Why we're taking notice: This one is published by Linda Leith Publishing which is just five years old this year, but has been making big waves—LLP is the publisher of Open Season, by Peter Kirby, which won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel last week. And according to reviews, The Company of Crows is pretty terrific.


Book Cover Pinny in Summer

Pinny in Summer, by Joanne Schwartz and Isabelle Malenfant

About the book: This engaging story, told in chapter-like episodes, follows Pinny on a long, lazy summer day. As sunshine turns to rain and back to sun again, Pinny searches for a wishing rock, watches clouds, picks wild blueberries, feeds a seagull, and bakes a cake to share with her friends.

An ideal book for children beginning to make the jump to independent reading, Pinny in Summer demonstrates the joy young people find in nature and an unstructured life. Pinny is allowed to explore her world freely, and her small setbacks and triumphs will be familiar to every child.

With charming illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant and a spare, poetic text from author Joanne Schwartz, Pinny in Summer is a bright and inviting picture book that captures all the delight of a perfect summer day.

Why we're taking notice: Schwartz once again shows us how to wonder and delight in the extraordinariness of the ordinary, and Malenfant's pictures with their violet hues are just as lovely. 


Book Cover the Cottage Bible

The Cottage Bible, by Gerry Mackie and Laura Elise Taylor

About the book: The Cottage Bible is the most important reference for a cottage owner. The expert guidance is essential for any vacation home, especially one near water with unique challenges. There is year-round advice on maintenance, buying a cottage, repairing burst pipes, and how to keep a lake healthy. 

The authors share their wisdom in a colorful easy-to-use kit of troubleshooting, how-to guidance, and problem-solving tips

Why we're taking notice: If you've got a cottage, this book is said to be a must-have. And if you don't, a look at the book's contents and all the work that goes into a cottage's upkeep (plus mention of the word "septic") will probably make you feel better about your lack of a summer abode. 


Book Cover Taking a Chance on Love

Taking a Chance on Love, by Mary Razzell

About the book: Falling in love creates an enchanted time, and when it's on the magical Sunshine Coast of British Columbia during the Second World War, it is never to be forgotten. The increased emotions of a country at war and the heartache as many of the young men join up to serve their country are always present. A special music becomes the background. It is the era of the big band, and Glen Miller, Count Basie and Frank Sinatra top the Hit Parade on the radio each week. For Meg, who is seventeen, it is a special time, but she is also living in an isolated village. She has only one other girl for company, and the highlight of the day is the daily arrival of Union Steamship with the mail and supplies. A summer job at the local guesthouse introduces her to a number of boys with whom she strikes up a friendship. But it is Bruce, a young naval officer who has been badly burned in the Battle of the Atlantic, who most interests her. He's bitter, she's naive, but they fall in love. And yes, they live happily ever after.

Why we're taking notice: With more than ten books, Mary Razzell has acquired an impressive list of awards and acclaim, so this new book (for teenage readers) promises more of the same. 


The Great Canadian Cottage Colouring Book

The Great Canadian Cottage Colouring Book, by Paul Covello and Leor Boshi

About the book: Feel the calm and tranquility of the cottage with inspiring scenes for you to colour. With a sturdy backing, you can bring this book to the dock, to your favourite chair—anywhere you like.

Why we're taking notice: If you're going to join the colouring book craze, at the cottage seems as good a place as any. Plus we loved Covello's illustrations in Toronto ABC, so these ones are sure to be good.  


Book Cover The Outdoor Chef

The Outdoor Chef: Cooking and Eating in the Great Outdoors, by Dian Weimer

About the book: There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying a good meal at the end of a long day in the great outdoors. After personal safety and comfort, the quality and quantity of food can make or break an adventure trip. In The Outdoor Chef, author Dian Weimer shows hungry readers how to pack, carry, and cook great outdoor meals that help make the experience memorable—for all the right reasons. She offers over 100 expedition-tested recipes for satisfying camp meals, plus valuable planning and packing strategies. With a little thought and some time preparing menus in advance, happy eating on a hiking, canoe, rafting, or kayak trip can be as much a part of the adventure as the destination.

Why we're taking notice: Weimer's previous book was The Paddling Chef, which was a nominee for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. 

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