New Books and Featured Reading Lists

Each week on the 49th Shelf homepage, we highlight new releases. We also make theme-based lists and showcase lists from guest contributors and 49th Shelf members. This page archives these selections so they are always available to our members.

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New Children's for the week of July 6th : New Middle Grade Books
War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories
Excerpt

The swimming pool is shaped like a heart. No, wait — it’s an apple. Of course! The poisonous apple Snow White took a bite of that sent her into a coma. Sort of weird, really, when you think about it. Who’d want to swim in a poisonous pool? No one by the look of it. The pool is empty. All that delicious coolness just lying there, sparkling in the late afternoon sun. …

Poison or not, alligators or not, I’m hot and I want into that pool. I head straight for the diving board, take as big a bounce as I can off the end and cannonball into the water.

Splash!

I drift down into the blue coolness, my eyes wide open. Glug, glug, glug. There is only watery sunlight down here, as if the sun was a big yellow china ball that someone smashed into little shards and sprinkled on the blue tile floor. My goggles aren’t on tight enough and water seeps inside, so with a little kick off the bottom I drift to the surface.

“Hey, you!”

A voice booms above me. I grab the lip of the pool. I also grab a mouthful of water, which makes me cough and cough. There is a large pair of hairy feet planted right beside my hand. I look up, my vision all swimmy through goggles full of water — way up, past a pair of Superman legs, a pair of yellow bathing trunks with palm trees on them, a chest big enough to pitch a tent on, to a face glaring down at me as if I am a toad and the only thing stopping him from squashing me is that he doesn’t have his toad-squashing boots on. Then I see the comic book in his hand. It’s sopping wet.

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A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
Excerpt

“I know you love unicorns, Rowan, but please stop staring at mine. You’re making him nervous.
”I do not love unicorns, as my aunt Jannah knows. Jerks. All of them. I’m not staring at Courtois. I’m staring him down. Unfortunately, she’s wrong about the third part, too. I can’t make him nervous, no matter how hard I try.
We’re in the castle courtyard, the high stone walls stealing the morning sun. Around us, the royal hunters prepare for their mission. A mission I should be joining. My twin brother, Rhydd, is and I belong at his side, keeping him safe.
As I scowl at Courtois, Rhydd’s hand thumps on my shoulder. “Give it up, Ro.”
“That beast stepped on my foot,” I say. “On purpose.”
“Yep, I’m sure he did. He is a unicorn.”
I move away from Courtois only to stumble over my aunt’s warg, Malric. The giant wolf lifts his head, upper lip curling to reveal canines as long as my hand. The last person who tried to pet him lost two fingers. Even I know better. I quickstep out of his reach.
“Making friends with all the monsters this morning, aren’t you?” Rhydd teases.
As I grumble, he leans in to whisper, “I know you’re upset. You’re worried about me going on the gryphon hunt.”
“I’m not wor—”
“You’re worried, and this is how you show it. By grumbling and scowling and staring down unicorns.”
“It’s not fair.”
“I know,” he says.
My scowl deepens, and I want to kick the dirt and growl and stomp. That would be childish, though, and I am not a child. I’m twelve. I’m a princess. One day, I’ll be queen.
I don’t want to be queen. I’ll be horrible at it. Rhydd should get the throne. Even now, as scared as he is, he’s trying to calm me. That’s what a real leader does.
“Rhydd?” Jannah calls. “Saddle up.”
As Jannah climbs onto Courtois, her sheathed sword swings by her side. I look at that sword, a gleaming ebony-wood center with a razor-sharp obsidian edge. I imagine it in my hands, and a lump rises in my throat.
This is who I want to be. This is who I should be. Not the queen, but the royal monster hunter. Everyone knows it. I hear the whispers, how my thoughtful brother should sit on the ivory throne, how his headstrong twin sister should wield the ebony sword.

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This week's recommended reading lists

Cottage Books

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New Non-Fiction for the week of June 29th : New Food and Drink
County Heirlooms

County Heirlooms

Recipes and Reflections from Prince Edward County
edited by Leigh Nash
photographs by Natalie Wollenberg
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian
More Info
Out of New Nova Scotia Kitchens

Out of New Nova Scotia Kitchens

Best-loved East Coast Dishes for Today
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : canadian, seafood
More Info
Take Back the Tray

Take Back the Tray

Revolutionizing Food in Hospitals, Schools, and Other Institutions
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Audiobook
More Info
Excerpt

 

As we got down to the wire, we raced around getting food set on the belt line for service. We put a little note from Rod on the trays, mentioning that everything was scratch-made and locally sourced. The plates were bright and alive, with food that looked delicious and drew you in. There was real, honest flavour and the distinct taste of care and attention. I loved seeing Rod on the line with the tray assembly team and savoured how obviously proud and happy everyone was about the meal we were serving that day. Rod and I excitedly took a tray up to a patient in the orthopaedic ward who had a broken leg. We explained what we were doing, and that he was the first one to receive this awesome local lunch. This patient couldn’t believe his luck and exclaimed about how delicious the tray looked. The patient in the bed beside him asked urgently whether he would be receiving this tray too, and it was really nice to finally be able to say yes.

 

Our team reported notably clean plates when the trays came back down, and there was even a bit of food leftover for the staff to have a taste. I wanted the team to see what was possible in that kitchen and that I wanted to help them get there. Many staff came up to me later with all sorts of thoughtful ideas for how to adjust our operations to make meals like this happen. That service was definitely a hustle, and we were all pretty exhausted, but I was so grateful that we had the chance to do this, and that it worked. In the deep of a February winter in Ontario we served an all-local lunch made from scratch for hospital patients. And when I reconciled numbers at the end of service, I learned that we only spent an additional $0.33/person for ingredients for that day’s lunch. It’s a relatively small investment for an exponentially better dining experience for patients. But, yes, it’s an investment, and we do actually have to spend some more money on patient meals.

 

I recently ran into Rod and was telling him about having just written about our time together cooking lunch at The Scarborough Hospital. His face lit up, and he reminded me that the woman who works on the internal hospital switchboard told us that in 21 years, our lunch was the first patient meal that received no complaints. “The first meal in 21 years with no complaints!” he exclaimed. “That’s a pretty clear message, if you ask me.”

 

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Essential Fondue Cookbook

Essential Fondue Cookbook

75 Decadent Recipes to Delight and Entertain
edition:Paperback
More Info
The Chowder Trail Cookbook

The Chowder Trail Cookbook

The best recipes for an East Coast Specialty
edition:Hardcover
also available: Hardcover Paperback Hardcover
tagged : seafood, canadian
More Info
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New Non-Fiction for the week of June 22nd : Ideas: New Nonfiction
Take Back the Tray

Take Back the Tray

Revolutionizing Food in Hospitals, Schools, and Other Institutions
edition:Paperback
More Info
Excerpt

 

As we got down to the wire, we raced around getting food set on the belt line for service. We put a little note from Rod on the trays, mentioning that everything was scratch-made and locally sourced. The plates were bright and alive, with food that looked delicious and drew you in. There was real, honest flavour and the distinct taste of care and attention. I loved seeing Rod on the line with the tray assembly team and savoured how obviously proud and happy everyone was about the meal we were serving that day. Rod and I excitedly took a tray up to a patient in the orthopaedic ward who had a broken leg. We explained what we were doing, and that he was the first one to receive this awesome local lunch. This patient couldn’t believe his luck and exclaimed about how delicious the tray looked. The patient in the bed beside him asked urgently whether he would be receiving this tray too, and it was really nice to finally be able to say yes.

 

Our team reported notably clean plates when the trays came back down, and there was even a bit of food leftover for the staff to have a taste. I wanted the team to see what was possible in that kitchen and that I wanted to help them get there. Many staff came up to me later with all sorts of thoughtful ideas for how to adjust our operations to make meals like this happen. That service was definitely a hustle, and we were all pretty exhausted, but I was so grateful that we had the chance to do this, and that it worked. In the deep of a February winter in Ontario we served an all-local lunch made from scratch for hospital patients. And when I reconciled numbers at the end of service, I learned that we only spent an additional $0.33/person for ingredients for that day’s lunch. It’s a relatively small investment for an exponentially better dining experience for patients. But, yes, it’s an investment, and we do actually have to spend some more money on patient meals.

 

I recently ran into Rod and was telling him about having just written about our time together cooking lunch at The Scarborough Hospital. His face lit up, and he reminded me that the woman who works on the internal hospital switchboard told us that in 21 years, our lunch was the first patient meal that received no complaints. “The first meal in 21 years with no complaints!” he exclaimed. “That’s a pretty clear message, if you ask me.”

 

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Orwell in Cuba

Orwell in Cuba

How 1984 Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight
edition:Paperback
More Info
Gideon’s Bible

Gideon’s Bible

A Father & Son Discuss God, the Bible and Life
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
More Info
On Pandemics

On Pandemics

Deadly Diseases from Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus
edition:Paperback
also available: Audiobook
More Info
More Powerful Together

More Powerful Together

Conversations With Climate Activists and Indigenous Land Defenders
edition:Paperback
More Info
Out of Milk

Out of Milk

Infant Food Insecurity in a Rich Nation
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
More Info
This week's recommended reading lists

Go Jump in the Lake

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New Fiction for the week of June 8th : New Fiction for June
Good Mothers Don't
Excerpt

Harmony House

1975

I am well now.

When the pink dawn draws near to my bedroom window I take comfort in those words. For a long time I wouldn't have been able to make that claim, but now, if someone were to ask, "How are you, Elizabeth?" I could reply, "I'm very well, thank you," and I'd be right, and could show proof if need be. Still, there are times when I'm uncertain about that claim—when I fail to remember something so simple, or when a kernel of fear sprouts in my chest, sending out gnarly vines that spread far and wide, or when a whispered thought comes into my head when I hadn't been thinking of anything in particular at the time. The hospital says I'm well and so does the doctor who signed my release forms. They said that more than five years ago, and no one in their right mind would argue their own wellness when it's been clearly stated as fact, and neither should I.

They released me—the same authorities who declared me well—when dandelion seeds were blowing in the wind. There was a field of them along the route we took the day I came to Harmony House. I hadn't seen a dandelion for years, let alone a field full of them; soft grey balls of fluff trembling in the wind, their downy pips flying out across the air. I smiled and imagined that I might like to chase after them had we not been going at such a speed that I couldn't cry out for the car to be stopped.

That would not be the behaviour of someone who is well.

Wellness brings with it a certain responsibility, a promise not to act in a particular way or to say things of an inappropriate nature. So I watched and imagined and smiled until we were well past the field of dandelions, with Mrs. Weaver none the wiser.

"You can go home," the doctor said the day I was declared well. He was smiling as if this suggestion would have me leaping for joy. Home was a word I hadn't uttered in years; I feared for the longest while no such word existed for me. Or maybe it did exist in some strange, out-of-the-way place, one no one would tell me about. For sure it was some closely guarded secret and, somehow, intended for my own good.

"Where is home?" I said, sitting across from the doctor. I looked down and stopped myself from fiddling with the hem of my dress. I wondered if he knew more than he was letting on. He was a young man, too young to be in charge of my life, yet I accepted what he said even with the reservations I felt inside. They would send me home no matter where that home was. It was time to release the secret they'd been keeping from me for all these years.

"You're ready to re-enter the world, Elizabeth. That's all you need to know at this point."

His words caused my knees to tremble, and I crossed my legs to tame the uneasiness hammering away inside me. I didn't want the doctor to see how jumpy this made me in case he reversed his declaration of my wellness. His smile didn't wane, but neither did he look directly at me, as if he didn't want to see that far into the future—my future. The future that suddenly seemed murky and undefined. What was waiting for me in this future he spoke of? Even he didn't seem to have the answer to that.

"Someone will make all the arrangements. No need for you to worry about any of it," he said before he left me that day. I spent the next few weeks wondering about this someone and the arrangements they were making for me to go home.

Home. I had a home one time, one that hadn't been arranged. I must have. Everyone does. Step by step we build our lives with every choice we make, every thought we think, everything we feel and all the people we encounter. But that life, my life, was gone. I had no idea where. Places cannot stop existing. Yet it seemed that home, or at least my home, had done just that. Now there was nothing but a vague sense of familiarity lurking deep within me, a tangle of stale memories that I fought hard to remember. Flashes and flickers, small bits of the past, moved like static in my brain as I waited to start my life over again. And I began to wonder just how important those flashes and flickers might eventually prove to be. Some nights I couldn't shut them off. I'd toss and turn and wrestle the unknown, certain that something, or someone, would prevent me from ever seeing home.

This home the doctor spoke of became Harmony House, on a quiet back street in a little town not far from Halifax; a new start with freedoms I could only have dreamt about from inside the hospital walls. Home was a place to eat and sleep and watch TV, a place to breathe in the wide-open spaces, with trips into town and some money in my purse. And there was an old woman, the occupant of the bed on the other side of the room, who had been there for several years before my arrival.

"Mrs. Zimmer has her ways, but you'll get used to her soon enough," said Mrs. Weaver as we pulled up the driveway to Harmony House. "She means well." She left me standing in the middle of the room without a clue as to what I should do next. Setting my suitcase on the empty bed, I looked toward my roommate.

"Hello," I said with a smile she didn't return. Her mouth was pulled into a scowl and her flabby arms were folded in front of her. She turned her head and stared directly at me. I felt like an alien from a distant planet, a being with three eyes and a pair of horns sticking out from my head.

"Sal croaked just the other night," she said as I put my things in the dresser that had my name on it. "Stiff as a poker in the morning when they came to wake her. They just changed the sheets before you got here. The bed's probably still warm. We shared this room for four long years," she said, stretching out those last three words to indicate how miserable those years had been for her. She finished her speech by adding, with what seemed like a fair bit of satisfaction, "She always had a lot of gas." Raising a bushy eyebrow, she added, "You're not gassy, are you?"

Since the declaration of my wellness, I've contemplated my illness as many times as one can consider something they have little memory of. I'm uncertain as to when I became ill, what time of year, or even the year itself; whether dandelions were blooming or coloured leaves were hanging on the trees. I like to imagine it might have been in the cold of winter, a time when nature pulls back her hand, tired of making the flowers bloom and the grass grow; a time of rest. Certainly not in spring, with small shoots popping up from the ground, new life emerging. Perhaps I went to sleep one night fully aware of my life, but then entered a whole new realm of existence, a corridor that led me into a world different from the one I'd known all along. Or I might have been put under a fairy spell, transported to another land, stripped bare of my life, my memories stolen.

But I am well now, and all that is childlike thinking, hardly plausible explanations for the life I've lost.

So much of my life is now made up of uncertainties. But I've been told there is nothing unique in that. The only certainty in life is life's uncertainty. Sometimes in order for us to get to that place of wellness, things must be sacrificed. Life is a trade-off, a juggling of people, places, and events, maybe even the disappearance of time and memory if I were to make a guess. Isn't it only right that we lose some things along the way? I'm told even the most experienced juggler will drop a ball or two; I, who knows nothing about juggling, have managed to drop them all.

All these years and I still fight to push back the fear I sometimes feel, even with the declaration of my wellness. For a time it works and the panic quells for weeks, months, but eventually it floats to the top like a dead body at the rim of a lake. It's my own fault. I'll admit that much. An important aspect of wellness is the acceptance of the part we play in our own life's circumstance. If this hadn't happened, or If only I had done things differently. Perhaps if I had been stronger. I think all these things and wonder how much of it is true and how much is imagined, and it always comes back to the same irreversible thing.

A whispered thought as I drift into sleep.

The one thing that started it all.

You wouldn't have lost the life you had if you hadn't gone crazy.

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The Diamond House

The Diamond House

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged :
More Info
The Chai Factor

The Chai Factor

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback Paperback
tagged : humorous
More Info
Zip's File

Zip's File

A Romance of Silence
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian, medieval
More Info
This week's recommended reading lists

Black Lives Matter

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Swim-Lit

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