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2018 Ontario Morning Book Picks

By 49thShelf
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tagged: new releases
The books recommended by our editor, Kerry, on her CBC Ontario Morning books column.
It Begins In Betrayal

It Begins In Betrayal

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

The fourth book in what the Globe and Mail has proclaimed “a terrific series” by “a writer to watch.”

Summer descends over the picturesque King’s Cove as Darling and Lane’s mutual affection blossoms. But their respite from solving crime is cut short when a British government official arrives in Nelson to compel Darling to return to England for questioning about the death of a rear gunner under his command in 1943.

In Darling’s absence, Ames oversees the investigation into the suspici …

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Catch My Drift

Catch My Drift

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary, sagas

An Atlantic Books Today Editor's Pick

Lorna always wanted to stand out, but her career as a competitive swimmer was cut short by a knee injury. Cara, her daughter, tries hard to blend in, but when she has to fill in for her brother at a school pageant, she is overwhelmed by terror. Lorna is vain about her ability to shut out distractions. Cara can’t control her scary thoughts. And while Lorna tries her best to move past life’s early disappointments, Cara picks at the cracks in her family’s …

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That Time I Loved You

That Time I Loved You

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback

Shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award
Shortlisted for Markham Reads
A Globe and Mail Most Anticipated Book
A CBC Books Writer to Watch

Life is never as perfect as it seems. Tensions that have lurked beneath the surface of a shiny new subdivision rise up in this haunting depiction of 1970s suburbia

In her “compact gem of a collection” (The Globe and Mail), Carrianne Leung enlivens a singular group of characters sharing a subdivision in 1970s Toronto. Marilyn greets her new neighbours with fres …

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1979

1979

edition:Paperback
tagged : literary

It’s 1979 and Tom Buzby is thirteen years old and living in the small working- class city of Chatham, Ontario. So far, so normal. Except that Tom’s dad is the local tattoo artist, his mother is a born-again former stripper who’s run off with the minister from the church where the pet store used to be, and his sister can’t wait to leave town for good. And everyone along his daily newspaper route looks at him a little differently, this boy who’s come back from the dead, who just might be …

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The Amateurs

The Amateurs

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

In the style of Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood, Dave Eggers' The Circle, and The Walking Dead: a post-apocalyptic examination of nostalgia, loss and the possibility of starting over.

Allow us to introduce you to the newest product from PINA, the world's largest tech company. "Port" is a curiously irresistible device that offers the impossible: space-time travel mysteriously powered by nostalgia and longing. Step inside a Port and find yourself transported to wherever and whenever your h …

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Excerpt

At first, the public had been told that port worked like a revolving door, that it went both ways. PINA quoted people who reported that they’d evaporated and come back, and that the experience was glorious. Carpe diem, they said. You haven’t lived! Someone claimed to have been among the Arawak people before Columbus. Someone claimed to have witnessed the cave painters in Lascaux.

Marie had snorted in disbelief, sitting in front of her TV with the chopsticks in her hand hovering over a bowl of noodles. These so-called travellers had been in the Bahamas before Columbus, and they’d gone prehistoric, and yes, they were wearing appropriate costumes and had unruly facial hair, but they didn’t give any information about those times and places. What was it really like? Marie chewed sardonically, pointed her chopsticks at the screen. No. It was not believable. These people were awestruck and dumbstruck, but they knew nothing at all. Or they were manic for environmentalism. “You have no idea what it’s like with all the trees!” they said. Green so green it made your eyes hurt. Green so green it will make you grow leaves and buds. Contagious green.

This talk of colour had come close to tempting Marie. It was pathological to not be tempted at all. People around her had acquired a missionary zeal. “I want to see everything.” Marie’s sister Claudine’s eyes had gleamed. “I want to see the Mayans! The ancient Egyptians!” Gasp. “Shakespeare!”

So time and space was just an enormous sponge cake you got absorbed into? PINA—through Doors or his favourite mouthpiece, Brandon Dreyer, who was said to be the source of the corporation’s weird poetry—claimed that this new tech had broken through the shell of perceived reality, which was like an egg they’d all been fertil­ized in. Now they ought to—had an obligation to —poke their heads through and look around. “The present is over!” PINA proclaimed.

Claudine had gone, and not come back. Marie imagined her— when she felt optimistic—walking around Elizabethan streets in rags.

“The present is over!”

One by one, sometimes in groups of two, sometimes whole families together, the people disappeared. The slogan was meant to persuade them that it was passé to live in the here and now, but it had ended up being prescient. This present, this reality, the original reality, was kaput. All things had ground to a halt. You didn’t notice people disappearing until one day the streets seemed hollowed out, the space between one person and the next walking down the side­walk had grown too long. The gaps were everywhere. Marie’s shop door stopped chiming its happy heave-ho. The newspaper in the stand outside was three days old. Then four days. Then five.

Everyone in the group had reasons to grieve. At first the gather­ings at the church had been like AA meetings. Hi, I’m Marie, and I’ve been left behind. Today I was thinking about how much I miss the smell of street meat. Hi, I’m Lillian, and I’ve been left behind. Will I ever get another letter in the mail? Hi, I’m Bonita, and Hi, I’m Philip, and Hi, I’m Rosa, and Hi, I’m Mo.

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Things Are Good Now

Things Are Good Now

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Set in East Africa, the Middle East, Canada, and the U.S., Things Are Good Now examines the weight of the migrant experience on the human psyche. In these pages, women, men, and children who’ve crossed continents in search of a better life find themselves struggling with the chaos of displacement and the religious and cultural clashes they face in their new homes. A maid who travelled to the Middle East lured by the prospect of a well-paying job is trapped in the Syrian war. A female ex-freedo …

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Excerpt

From “Heading Somewhere”

Holding the corner post for balance, Sara climbs onto the patio chair. She wraps the bedsheet she’s tied to the ledge like a rope around her arm and slowly climbs over her employers’ second floor balcony and down to the quiet street below. A metre or so before her feet touch the ground, she loses her grip and falls on the asphalt. She gets up quickly, adjusts the duffle bag on her back and looks up towards the house. The lights have not been turned on. She takes a deep breath and searches the dark street for the ride Ahmed, her employers’ gatekeeper had arranged for her. She spots an old van a few metres away. Its rear lights flash twice as agreed upon. She walks towards it as fast as she can without running.

“Get in the back,” the driver says from the half-open window before Sara has a chance to make eye contact.

“Cover yourself with that blanket and keep your head down,” he orders with a rushed voice.

Panic takes over as she slides the van door shut. What if this is a trap? She trusts Ahmed. He didn’t let her out of the compound alone for fear of losing his job but he was nice to her. And he has delivered on the promise of finding her someone who, for a fee, would help her. But this man on the other hand could be taking her to the police station instead of the outskirts of Damascus where she’s supposed to meet someone who will take her to Beirut. She shakes the distressing thought away. There is nothing she can do now but hope for the best.

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The Boat People

The Boat People

edition:Paperback

By the winner of The Journey Prize, and inspired by a real incident, The Boat People is a gripping and morally complex novel about a group of refugees who survive a perilous ocean voyage to reach Canada – only to face the threat of deportation and accusations of terrorism in their new land.
 
When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put …

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Excerpt

 
Beginning
July 2009
 
Mahindan was flat on his back when the screaming began, one arm right-angled over his eyes. He heard the whistle and thud of falling artillery, the cries of the dying. Mortar shells and rockets, the whole world on fire.
     Then another sound. It cut through the clamour so that for a drawn-out second there was nothing else, only him and his son and the bomb that arched through the sky with a shrill banshee scream, spinning nose aimed straight for them. Mahindan fought to open his eyes. His limbs were pinned down and heavy. He struggled to move, to call out in terror, to clamber and run. The ground rumbled. The shell exploded, shards of hot metal spitting in its wake. The tent was rent in half. Mahindan jolted awake.
     Heart like a sledgehammer, he sat up frantic, blinking into the darkness. He heard someone panting and long seconds later realized it was him. The echoing whine of flying shrapnel faded and he returned to the present, to the coir mat under him, back to the hold of the ship.
     There were snores and snuffles, the small nocturnal noises of five hundred slumbering bodies. Beneath him, the engine’s monotonous whir. He reached out, instinctive, felt his son Sellian curled up beside him, then lay down again. The back of his neck was damp.
     His pulse still raced. He smelled the sourness of his skin, the raw animal stink of the bodies all around. The man on the next mat slept with his mouth open. His snore was a revving motorcycle, so close Mahindan could almost feel the warm exhales.
     He put his hand against Sellian’s back, felt it move up and down. Gradually, his own breathing slowed to the same rhythm. He ran a hand through his son’s hair, fine and silky, the soft strands of a child, then stroked his arm, felt the roughness of his skin, the long, thin scratches, the scabbed-over insect bites. Sellian was slight. Six years old and barely three feet tall. How little space the child occupied, coiled into himself, his thumb in his mouth. How precarious his existence, how miraculous his survival.
     Mahindan’s vision adjusted and shapes emerged out of the gloom. The thin rails on either side of the ladder. Lamps strung up along an electrical cord. Outside the porthole window, it was still pitch-black.
     Careful not to wake Sellian, he stood and gingerly made his way across the width of the ship toward the ladder, stepping between bodies huddled on thin mats and ducking under sleepers swaying overhead, cocooned in rope hammocks. It was hot and close, the atmosphere suffocating.
     Hema’s thick plait trailed out on the dirty floor. Mahindan stooped to pick it up and laid it gently on her back as he passed by. Her two daughters shared the mat beside her; they lay on their sides facing each other, knees and foreheads touching. A few feet on, he passed the man with the amputated leg and averted his gaze.
     During the day the ship was rowdy with voices, but now he heard only the slap of the electrical cord against the wall, everyone breathing in and out, recycling the same stale, diesel-scented air.
     A boy cried out in his sleep, caught in a nightmare, and when Mahindan turned toward the sound, he saw Kumuran’s wife comfort her son. With both hands grasping the banisters, Mahindan hoisted himself up the ladder. Emerging onto the deck, inhaling the fresh scent of salt and sea, he felt immediately lighter. From overhead, the mast creaked and he gazed up to see the stars, the half-appam moon glowing alive in the sky. At the thought of appam – doughy, hot off the fire – his stomach gave a plaintive, hollow grumble.
     It was dark, but he knew his way around the ship. A dozen plastic buckets were lined up along the stern. He squatted in front of one and formed his hands into a bowl. The water was tepid, murky with twigs and bits of seaweed. He splashed water on his face and the back of his neck, feeling the grit scratch his skin.
     The boat – a sixty-metre freighter, past its prime and jerry-rigged for five hundred passengers – was cruising through calm waters, groaning under the weight of too much human cargo. Mahindan held on to the railing, rubbing a thumb against the blistered rust.
     A few others were out, shadowy figures keeping silent vigil on both levels of the deck. They had been at sea for weeks or months, sunrises blurring into sunsets. Days spent on deck, tarps draped overhead to block out the sun, and the floor burning beneath them. Stormy nights when the ship would lurch and reel, Sellian cradled in Mahindan’s lap, their stomachs tumbling with the pitch and yaw of the angry ocean.
     But the captain had said they were close and for days they had been expecting land, a man posted at all times in the crow’s nest.
     Mahindan turned his back to the railing and slid down to sit on the deck. Exhaustion whenever he thought of the future; terror when he remembered the past. He yawned and pressed a cheek to raised knees, then tucked his arms in for warmth. At least here on the boat they were safe from attack. Ruksala, Prem, Chithra’s mother and father. The roll call of the dead lulled him to sleep.
——
He awoke to commotion and gull shrieks. A boy ran down the length of the ship calling for his father. Appa! Appa! There were more people on the deck now, all of them speaking in loud, excited voices.
     The man they called Ranga stood at the railing beside him, staring out. Mahindan was dismayed to see him.
     Land is close, Ranga said.
     Mahindan scanned the straight line of the ocean, trying not to blink. Nearby, a young man stood on the rail and levered his body half out of the boat. An older woman called out: Take care!
     After all this time, finally we have arrived, Ranga said. He grinned at Mahindan and added: Because of you only, I am here.
     Nothing to do with me, Mahindan said. We all took our own chance.
     Mahindan kept his gaze fixed on the horizon. At first he saw the head of a pin, far in the distance, but as he kept watching, the vision emerged. Purple-brown land and blue mountains like ghosts rising in the background. The newspaperman came to join them as the slope of a forest appeared. Mahindan had spoken to him a few times but could not recall his name. Someone said he had been working for a paper in Colombo before he fled.
     We will be intercepted, the newspaperman said. Americans or Canadians, who will catch us first?
     Catch us? Ranga repeated, his voice rising to a squeak.
     But now there were people streaming onto the deck, squeezing in for a view at the railing, and the newspaperman was jostled away. Mahindan edged aside too, relieved to put distance between himself and Ranga.
     There were voices and bodies everywhere. Women plaited their hair over one shoulder. Men pulled their arms through their T-shirts. Most were barefoot. People pressed up around him. The boat creaked and Mahindan felt it list, as everyone crowded in. They stood shoulder to shoulder, people on both levels of the deck, hushing one another, children holding their breath. The trees, the mountains, the strip of beach they could now make out up ahead, it all seemed impossibly big, unreal after days and nights of nothing but sea and sky and the rumbling of the ship. Nightmares of rusted steel finally giving way, belching them all into the ocean.
     Sellian appeared, squeezing himself between legs, one fist against his eyes. Appa, you left me!
     How to leave? Mahindan said. Did you think I jumped in the ocean? He picked his son up in the crook of one arm and pointed. Look! We’re here.
     The clouds burned orange. Mahindan squinted. People shouted and pointed. Look!
     There was a tugboat in the water and a larger ship, its long nose turned up, speeding toward them, sleek and fast, with a tall white flagpole. The wind unfurled the flag, red and white, majestic in the flaming sky. They saw the leaf and a great resounding cheer shook the boat.
     The captain cut the engine and they floated placid. Overhead, there was a chopping sound. Mahindan saw a helicopter, its blades slicing the sky, a red leaf painted on its belly. There were three boats now, all of them circling the ship, a welcome party. On the deck, people waved with both hands. The red-and-white flag snapped definitive.
     Mahindan gripped his son. Sellian shivered in his arms, from fear, from exhilaration, he couldn’t tell. Soon Mahindan was shaking too, armpits dampening. His teeth clattered.
     Their new life. It was just beginning.

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Things to Do When It's Raining

Things to Do When It's Raining

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?—from The Globe and Mail–bestselling author Marissa Stapley.

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly develope …

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