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Clara Voyant

Clara Voyant

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

A wannabe journalist and reluctant astrologer turns out to be clairvoyant in this charming middle-grade coming-of-age novel; for fans of Rebecca Stead's novels.

Clara can't believe her no-nonsense grandmother has just up and moved to Florida, leaving Clara and her mother on their own for the first time. This means her mother can finally "follow her bliss," which involves moving to a tiny apartment in Kensington Market, working at a herbal remedy shop and trying to develop her so-called mystical p …

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Clara Costa had only been at Kensington Middle School for a month, but already she understood the implications of a Blazer Day. All the Newsies did. When Wesley Ferris, editor-in-chief of the Kensington Middle School Gazette, showed up to school wearing a blazer, she meant business.
So when the last bell rang on Tuesday afternoon, Clara was ready. She’d been watching the clock tick steadily toward 3:15 all through math class. The second it hit, she slammed her textbook shut, hopped out of her desk, and beelined for her meeting.
Unfortunately, it was hard to get anywhere fast at Kensington Middle School, or KMS as the students called it. KMS was enormous—easily three times the size of High Park Public, where Clara had gone to elementary school—and jam-packed with what felt like three hundred times as many kids (though it was probably closer to ten).
They surrounded her in the hallway, sweeping her along with them as they surged toward their lockers, laughing and shouting.
“Excuse me.” She tried to push her way across the hall. “Um, can I get through? I’ve got to—”
A basketball sailed over her head and smacked the wall. Some kids gasped. Others guffawed.
“Watch it,” someone warned. “She’s around here somewhere.”
Everyone paused to glance over their shoulders, including Clara. But Mrs. Major, the KMS custodian, was nowhere in sight. Relieved, she continued on, picking up the pace but being careful not to break into a run. Mrs. Major’s Number One Rule—even more important than No Throwing Basketballs—was No Running in the Halls. And Mrs. Major was not to be disobeyed. Mrs. Major was even more intimidating than Wesley Ferris in a blazer.

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Missing

Missing

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

Fans of CJ Omololu's The Third Twin will flock to the new romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong.


     The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve's End is that soon she'll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There's nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They're better off taking a chance elsewhere.

          What Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At l …

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Excerpt

Reeve’s End is the kind of town every kid can’t wait to escape. Each summer, a dozen kids leave and at least a quarter never come back. I don’t blame them—I’ll do the same in another year. We thought it was just something that happened in towns like ours.
We were wrong.
"Twenty dollars an hour," I say to the guy who’s stopped me as I head for Doc Southcott’s. I know his name. When your high school has only two hundred kids, you can’t even pretend you don’t. But from his expression, you’d think I’ve clearly forgotten him. Forgotten who he is, at least.
   I lean against the crumbling brickwork. "You asked if I can help boost your math grade. The answer is yes. For twenty dollars an hour." 
   "But . . ."
   "I know, Garrett. You expected I’d do it for the pleasure of your company. That’s what you’re used to—girls jumping at the chance to spend time with you. You’re a decent guy, though, so I’ll warn that it’s not so much you they’re after as a one-way ticket out of Reeve’s End. Preferably with a cute boy who’ll earn a football scholarship . . . as long as he can get the grades for college. Which is why you’re here."
   "Uh . . ."
   I sigh and look down the road. There’s nothing to see. Pothole-ridden streets. Rust-plagued pickups. Even the mutt tied outside the Dollar Barn gazes at the fog-shrouded Appalachians as if dreaming of better.
   I turn back to Garrett. "I’m happy to help. But you’re not the only one who wants out, and college is expensive."
   "Not for you. With your grades, you’re guaranteed a full ride."
   "Nothing is guaranteed. And I doubt I’ll get a full ride for my post-grad."
   "Med school?" He glances at Doc Southcott’s office. "You’re not serious about that."
   "Are you serious about a football scholarship?"
   "Hell, yeah. It’s just . . . med school?"
   Kids from Reeve’s End don’t go to med school. Especially those like me, who even here would be from the wrong side of the tracks . . . if Reeve’s End had tracks. Sometimes I figure the train purposely diverted around us for the same reason we don’t have buses or taxis—so it’s harder to escape.
   Tutoring won’t get me through med school. Neither will working for Doc Southcott. But I’ve got a plan, and every penny counts. It’s always counted.
   "You have your dreams, Garrett, and I have mine. Yours will cost twenty bucks an hour. If you put in the effort, I can bring you up to a B. And the bonus to paying me? You won’t need to flirt to win my help."
   He shakes his head. "You’re a strange girl, Winter Crane."
   "No, I’m just strange for Reeve’s End. So, do we have a deal? I’ve got one tutor slot open, which will fill in another week, when kids finally admit midterms are coming."
   He agrees, still looking confused.
   "Tomorrow, after school at the library," I say. "Payment in advance."

I have a short shift at the doc’s that day. Mrs. Southcott has managed to convince her husband to take an extended long-weekend vacation, leaving this afternoon. I tried to argue that I could do office work while they’re gone, but apparently she figures Doc Southcott isn’t the only one overdue for time off.
   I head to the trailer park. My official address, even if I spend as little time there as possible. Mom died when I was seven. My sister left last year. It’s just me and Bert now. He prefers Rob, but Bert better suits a guy who traded an engineering career in the city for a string of crap jobs that pay just enough to keep him in bourbon. He lost the right to be called Dad when he decided I was a burden to be borne and not gladly.
   I pass our trailer and duck into the forest. My real home is out there—an abandoned shack that’s far more habitable than our trailer.
   Thick forest leads from the town to the foothills, and what used to be a good source of income back when the local coal mine operated. Shitty work—old-timers still cough black phlegm decades later. But that doesn’t stop them from reminiscing as if they’d had cushy office jobs. There was money then. Good and steady money. Then the mine closed and the town emptied. Those who stayed did so because they had no place else to go . . . or no place else would have them.
   My shack is nearly a mile in. That’s a serious hike through dense forest, but it means I don’t need to worry about local kids using my cabin for parties. Hunters do stumble over it in season—and out of season, Reeve’s End not being a place where people pay attention to laws if they interfere with putting food on the table.
   I check my boundary thread. One section is slack, as if something pushed against it and then withdrew. Humans barrel through without noticing, so I’m guessing this was a deer. Or so I hope, because the alternative is a black bear or coyote or, worse, one of the feral dogs that have been giving me trouble.
   I tighten the thread and duck under. My shack is exactly that—a dilapidated wooden structure maybe eight feet square. It’s empty inside except for a rickety chair near the wall. I pry up a loose floorboard and remove my gear. Spread my carpet. Pour a cup of water. Set aside my sleeping bag and lantern. Home sweet home.
   I write up a lab experiment while the light is good. Then I go check my snares, the bow over my shoulder doubling my chance to add meat to my ramen noodles. I forage, too, but it’s the hunting that marks me as a girl who lives in a place like Reeve’s End, as I discovered when a scholarship sent me to science camp in Lexington. Some city girls must hunt, but you wouldn’t think so from my fellow students’ expressions when I told them how I got my ace dissection skills.
   "Aren’t there supermarkets where you live?" one girl asked.
   Well, no. Reeve’s End only has a grocery and a small one at that. But food costs money, and as much as possible, money is for my savings account. At least I know where my meat comes from, which is more than I can say for those kids.
   I’m drawing near the second snare when I notice something white lying beside it. I inhale, hoping it’s not a skunk—polecat in these parts. But it’s just white. Shit. I hope I haven’t trapped someone’s cat.
   I jog over to see . . . a sneaker?
   I peer at the surrounding forest, expecting a prank. My snares are far from the trails, and even if someone stumbled on one, the trap is hardly life-threatening. Yet from the looks of the flattened ground cover, this person fought hard to get free.
I examine the shoe. If the mate were here, I’d take it. At size eleven, it wouldn’t fit me, but it’s a nearly new Air Jordan, which I could sell for at least fifty bucks. I turn the shoe over.
   That’s when I see the blood. Then I spot a red handprint on a sapling, where he must have righted himself after the trap. I figure "he" given the size of the shoe. That shoe also means he’s not from Reeve’s End, where wearing three-hundred-dollar sneakers would be the equivalent of riding to school in a chauffeured Escalade. 
   I follow his trail for a bit. Mostly I’m just curious. But as I track him, I start to worry. He’s like an injured black bear, staggering and stumbling and mowing down everything in his path. Wounded and lost in what must have seemed endless wilderness.
   I should try to find him. It’s inconvenient, but it’ll be a hell of a lot more inconvenient when some hunter finds his body and I suffer the guilt of knowing I might have been able to help.
   I continue tracking him for close to a mile. That’s when I hear the distant growls of feral dogs.

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The Blackthorn Key

The Blackthorn Key

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook

Following a series of murders, an apothecary’s apprentice must solve puzzles and decipher codes in pursuit of a secret that could destroy the world in this “spectacular debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”

Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or …

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The Blackthorn Key CHAPTER 1
“LET’S BUILD A CANNON,” I said.

Tom wasn’t listening. He was deep in concentration, tongue pinched between his teeth, as he steeled himself for combat with the stuffed black bear that ruled the front corner of my master’s shop. Tom stripped off his linen shirt and flung it heroically across the antimony cups gleaming on the display table near the fire. From the oak shelf nearest to him, he snatched the glazed lid of an apothecary jar—Blackthorn’s Wart-Be-Gone, according to the scrawl on the label—and held it on guard, a miniature ceramic shield. In his right hand, the rolling pin wobbled threateningly.

Tom Bailey, son of William the Baker, was the finest fake soldier I’d ever seen. Though only two months older than me, he was already a foot taller, and built like a blacksmith, albeit a slightly pudgy one, due to a steady pilfering of his father’s pies. And in the safety of my master’s shop, away from the horrors of battle like death, pain, or even a mild scolding, Tom’s courage held no equal.

He glared at the inanimate bear. The floorboards creaked as he stepped within range of its wickedly curved claws. Tom shoved the curio cabinet aside, making the brass balances jingle. Then he hoisted his flour-dusted club in salute. The frozen beast roared back silently, inch-long teeth promising death. Or several minutes of tedious polishing, at least.

I sat on the counter at the back, legs dangling, and clicked leather heels against the carved cedar. I could be patient. You had to be, sometimes, with Tom, whose mind worked as it pleased.

“Think you can steal my sheep, Mr. Bear?” he said. “I’ll give you no quarter this day.” Suddenly, he stopped, rolling pin held outward in midlunge. I could almost see the clockwork cranking between his ears. “Wait. What?” He looked back at me, puzzled. “What did you say?”

“Let’s build a cannon,” I said.

“What does that mean?”

“Just what you think it means. You and me. Build a cannon. You know.” I spread my hands. “Boom?”

Tom frowned. “We can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because people can’t just build cannons, Christopher.” He said it like he was explaining why you shouldn’t eat fire to a small, dull child.

“But that’s where cannons come from,” I said. “People build them. You think God sends cannons down from heaven for Lent?”

“You know what I mean.”

I folded my arms. “I don’t understand why you’re not more excited about this.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re never the one on the pointy end of your schemes.”

“What schemes? I don’t have any schemes.”

“I spent all night throwing up that ‘strength potion’ you invented,” he said.

He did look a little dark under the eyes today. “Ah. Yes. Sorry.” I winced. “I think I put in too much black snail. It needed less snail.”

“What it needed was less Tom.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” I said. “Vomiting is good for you, anyway. It balances the humors.”

“I like my humors the way they are,” he said.

“But I have a recipe this time.” I grabbed the parchment I’d leaned against the coin scales on the countertop and waved it at him. “A real one. From Master Benedict.”

“How can a cannon have a recipe?”

“Not the whole cannon. Just the gunpowder.”

Tom got very still. He scanned the jars around him, as if among the hundreds of potions, herbs, and powders that ringed the shop was a remedy that would somehow get him out of this. “That’s illegal.”

“Knowing a recipe isn’t illegal,” I said.

“Making it is.”

That was true. Only masters, and only those with a royal charter, were allowed to mix gunpowder. I was a long way from either.

“And Lord Ashcombe is on the streets today,” Tom said.

Now that made me pause. “You saw him?”

Tom nodded. “On Cheapside, after church. He had two of the King’s Men with him.”

“What’d he look like?”

“Mean.”

“Mean” was exactly what I’d imagined. Lord Richard Ashcombe, Baron of Chillingham, was King Charles’s loyal general, and His Majesty’s Warden here in London. He was in the city hunting for a pack of killers. In the past four months, five men had been butchered in their homes. Each of them had been tied up, tortured, then slit open at the stomach and left to bleed to death.

Three of the victims had been apothecaries, a fact that had me seeing assassins in the shadows every night. No one was sure what the killers wanted, but sending in Lord Ashcombe meant the king was serious about stopping them. Lord Ashcombe had a reputation for getting rid of men hostile to the Crown—usually by sticking their heads on pikes in the public square.

Still, we didn’t need to be that cautious. “Lord Ashcombe’s not coming here,” I said, as much to myself as to Tom. “We haven’t killed anyone. And the King’s Warden isn’t likely to stop by for a suppository, is he?”

“What about your master?” Tom said.

“He doesn’t need a suppository.”

Tom made a face. “I mean, isn’t he coming back? It’s getting close to dinnertime.” He said “dinnertime” with a certain wistfulness.

“Master Benedict just bought the new edition of Culpeper’s herbal,” I said. “He’s at the coffeehouse with Hugh. They’ll be gone for ages.”

Tom pressed his ceramic shield to his chest. “This is a bad idea.”

I hopped down from the counter and grinned.

• • •

To be an apothecary, you must understand this: The recipe is everything.

It isn’t like baking a cake. The potions, creams, jellies, and powders Master Benedict made—with my help—required an incredibly delicate touch. A spoonful too little niter, a pinch too much aniseed, and your brilliant new remedy for dropsy would congeal instead into worthless green goo.

But new recipes didn’t fall from the sky. You had to discover them. This took weeks, months, even years of hard work. It cost a fortune, too: ingredients, apparatus, coal to stoke the fire, ice to chill the bath. Most of all, it was dangerous. Blazing fires. Molten metals. Elixirs that smelled sweet but ate away your insides. Tinctures that looked as harmless as water but threw off deadly, invisible fumes. With each new experiment, you gambled with your life. So a working formula was better than gold.

If you could read it.

?M08?

02160911101825261310092611221315240322132410220710092611221315141607011613010417261122131514142207151126152613021304092514261122132215260720080419

Tom scratched his cheek. “I thought there’d be more words and things.”

“It’s in code,” I said.

He sighed. “Why is it always in code?”

“Because other apothecaries will do anything to steal your secrets. When I have my own shop,” I said proudly, “I’m putting everything in code. No one’s going to swipe my recipes.”

“No one will want your recipes. Except poisoners, I suppose.”

“I said I was sorry.”

“Maybe this is in code,” Tom said, “because Master Benedict doesn’t want anyone to read it. And by ‘anyone,’ I mean you.”

“He teaches me new ciphers every week.”

“Did he teach you this one?”

“I’m sure he’d planned to.”

“Christopher.”

“But I figured it out. Look.” I pointed at the notation “M08?. “It’s a substitution cipher. Every two numbers stand for one letter. This tells you how to swap them. Start with ‘08,’ and replace it with M. Then count forward. So 08 is M, 09 is N, and so on. Like this.”

I showed him the table I’d worked out.

A

20

B

21

C

22

D

23

E

01

F

02

G

03

H

04

I

05

K

06

L

07

M

08

N

09

O

10

P

11

Q

12

R

13

S

14

T

15

V

16

X

17

Y

18

Z

19

Tom looked between the cipher and the block of numbers at the top of the page. “So if you replace the numbers with the right letters . . .”

“. . . You get your message.” I flipped the parchment over to show the translation I’d inked on the back.

Gunpowder

One part charcoal. One part sulfur. Five parts saltpeter.

Grind separately. Mix.

Which is what we did. We set up on the larger display table, farther from the fireplace, based on Tom’s reasonable suggestion that gunpowder and flames weren’t friends. Tom moved the bleeding spoons from the table and got the mortars and pestles from the window near the bear while I pulled the ingredient jars from the shelves.

I ground the charcoal. Sooty clouds puffed into the air, mixing with the earthy scent of the dried roots and herbs hanging from the rafters. Tom, glancing uneasily at the front door for any sign of my master, took care of the saltpeter, crushing the crystals that looked just like ordinary table salt. The sulfur was already a fine yellow powder, so while Tom swirled the ingredients together, I got a length of brass pipe sealed at one end from the workshop in the back. I used a nail to widen a hole near the sealed end. Into that, I slipped a loop of woven, ash-colored cord.

Tom raised his eyebrows. “Master Benedict keeps cannon fuse?”

“We use it to light things from far away,” I said.

“You know,” Tom said, “things you have to light from far away probably shouldn’t be lit at all.”

The mixture we ended up with looked harmless, just a fine black powder. Tom poured it into the open end while I propped up the pipe. A narrow stream spilled over the side, scattering charcoal grains onto the floor. I stamped the powder in the tube down with cotton wadding.

“What are we going to use for a cannonball?” Tom said.

Master Benedict didn’t keep anything in the store that would fit snugly in the pipe. The best I could come up with was a handful of lead shot we used for shavings to put in our remedies. They scraped down the brass and landed with a hollow thump on the cotton at the bottom.

Now we needed a target, and soon. It had taken a lot longer to put everything together than I thought it would, and though I’d assured Tom that my master wouldn’t return, his comings and goings weren’t exactly predictable.

“We’re not firing this thing outside,” Tom said.

He was right about that. The neighbors would not look kindly on lead shot flying through their parlors. And as tempting a target as the stuffed beaver on the mantel was, Master Benedict was even less likely to appreciate us going to war with the animals that decorated his shop.

“What about that?” I said. Hanging from the ceiling near the fireplace was a small iron cauldron. “We can shoot at the bottom of it.”

Tom pushed aside the antimony cups on the other table, leaving enough space to put down the cauldron. I picked up our cannon and pressed it against my abdomen to hold it steady. Tom tore a scrap of parchment from our deciphered recipe and held it in the fire until it caught. Then he lit the cannon’s wick. Sparks fizzed, racing toward the pipe like a flaming hornet. Tom dived behind the counter and peeked over the top.

“Watch this,” I said.

The blast nearly blew my ears off. I saw a burst of flame, and a mound of smoke, then the pipe kicked back like an angry ox and nailed me right between the legs.

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The Hill

The Hill

edition:Paperback

Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. When Jared insists on hiking up the highest hill in search of cell phone reception, Kyle hesitates; his Cree grandmother has always forbidden him to go near it. There’s no stopping Jared, though, so Kyle reluctantly follows. After a night spent on the hilltop—with no cell service—the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. Nothing in the forest surrounding them seems right. In fact, thin …

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Chase

Chase

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

The Incredible Journey meets Gordon Korman's On the Run in this exciting middle-grade thriller.

     Chipper is a very special dog. He's part of a multi-million-dollar experiment at a secret organization known only as The Institute. The Institute has been experimenting with dogs, melding them with state-of-the-art computer technology. But there's a problem with Chipper. His natural dog instincts often overrule his computer side. No matter what he's doing, if he sees a squirrel or a mouse, he'll …

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Savage Love

Savage Love

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback

An Amazon.ca Best Book of 2013, A Globe and Mail Top 100 for 2013, and A Quill & Quire Best Book of 2013

Longlisted, Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award

Savage Love marks the long-awaited literary return of one of Canada's most lauded and stylistically brilliant authors. Slyly holding forth with subversive wit, Glover skewers every conventional notion we've ever held about that cultural&emotional institution of love we are instructed to hold dear.

Peopled with forensic archaeologists, me …

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Undermajordomo Minor

Undermajordomo Minor

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback
tagged : literary

On the The Scotiabank Giller Prize 2015 Longlist

A love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners.

Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon di …

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Station Eleven

Station Eleven

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback
tagged :

Summer of Canadian Reading 2019

Winner of the Toronto Book Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Sunburst Award
Longlisted for the Baileys Prize and for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
A New York Times and Globe and Mail bestseller

The international publishing sensation now available in paperback: an audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame and ambition, set in the eerie days of civilization’s co …

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