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Archived Staff Picks - April 2017


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Archived Staff Picks - April 2017

A Number of Things: Stories About Canada Told Through 50 Objects
Jane Urquhart
Recommended by Pauline

From one of our nation's most beloved and iconic authors comes a lyrical 150th birthday gift to Canada.

Jane Urquhart chooses 50 Canadian objects and weaves a rich and surprising narrative that speaks to our collective experience as a nation.

Each object is beautifully illustrated by the noted artist Scott McKowen, with Jane Urquhart conjuring and distilling meaning and magic from these unexpected facets of our history.

The fifty artifacts range from a Nobel Peace Prize medal, a literary cherry tree, a royal cowcatcher, a Beothuk legging, a famous skull and an iconic artist's shoe, as well as an Innu tea doll, a Sikh RCMP turban, a Cree basket, a Massey-Harris tractor and a hanging rope, among an array of unexpected and intriguing objects.

Bringing the curiosity of the novelist and the eloquence of the poet to her task, Jane Urquhart composes a symphonic memory bank with objects that resonate with symbolic significance. In this compelling portrait of a completely original country called Canada, a master novelist has given all of us a national birthday bouquet like no other.

This title is available in Regular Print, Downloadable eBook and Audiobook formats.

Common Ground
By: Justin Trudeau
Recommended by Robert

You would think that with the recent election of Donald Trump as American president, one would be tired of all things political and steer clear of political biographies. Since I always read my Christmas present books, it was time to tackle Justin Trudeau's "Common Ground". Much of the book differs greatly from the standard political autobiographies authored prior to elections. As a baby boomer, I certainly remember the marriage of his youthful, but fortyish father Pierre to the young Margaret. Justine takes us from this point to his experience of growing up with his two brothers at 24 Sussex Drive. Growing up under the microscope of a fawning media and meeting famous world leaders, Justin and his brothers were raised by a dedicated father with high standards and a mother who struggled to find her way. Justin speaks of the breakup of his parents' marriage and Pierre and the boys' post-political move to Montreal. He speaks about coming of age during the times of the Charlottetown Agreement and the Quebec Referendum, attending McGill and becoming a teacher in British Columbia. Justin speaks of the devastating loss of his brother in an avalanche and the subsequent death of his now frail father. I believe that almost all of us watched Justin's impressive eulogy for his father. We see Justin developing as a young man and his understanding of Canada's strength as a nation.
Moving back to Montreal, Justin becomes the head of Katimavik, the organization that sends young volunteers to Canadian communities and is active in promoting avalanche safety. However, the most important connection is formed with a beautiful television personality, Sophie Gregoire. It is not until Justin is convinced to run in the federal working class riding of Papineau, eventually winning that seat against difficult odds. At this point, the book reverts into a more conventional political biography as Mr. Trudeau chronicles his rise from sitting member to head of the Liberal party. He also speaks of how he and his now wife Sophie are working hard to ensure that their family life (with 3 kids) is not destroyed by the world of politics.  Of course, Justin outlines his political platform and even includes a number of  speeches in the appendices. While Justin spends little of this book attacking the Harper government, it becomes clear that he has great differences with how the Conservatives have run our government recently.
Yet this is not a political attack book. It is really the story of how a family of three boys spent their early years at the hub of this nation and how one of them evolved in his own way to become our country's leader. We also learn a lot about life in Pierre's household- how a single, loving but demanding father and a caring, but troubled mother molded his development. One fascinating aside- the three boys spoke to father only in French, but to their mother only in English. When they moved to Pine Ave. in Montreal, French must be spoken on the father's floor and English anywhere else. What an interesting place it would have been: I've heard that Pierre's old friend Leonard Cohen used to drop in to read poetry to Pierre.  I believe that even hard encrusted Tories will find this a fascinating read.  Recommended for political junkies and all who are interested in the human side of politics.

This title is available in Regular Print, Downloadable  Audiobook  and Ebook formats.

Recommended by Kathy

Based in part on Irène Némirovsky's Suite Francaise.

France, 1940. In the first days of occupation, beautiful Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams is trapped in a stifled existence with her controlling mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) as they both await news of her husband: a prisoner of war. Parisian refugees start to pour into their small town, soon followed by a regiment of German soldiers who take up residence in the villagers' own homes. Lucile initially tries to ignore Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), the handsome and refined German officer staying with them. But soon, a powerful love draws them together and leads them into the tragedy of war.

Synopsis taken from

This title is available DVD, Regular Print, Large Print , and Downloadable Audiobook formats.

The Madman's Daughter
By: Megan Shepherd
Recommended by Rachel 

For fans of Libba Bray, this first book in a gothic suspense trilogy is inspired by H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau and has been hailed by New York Times bestseller Carrie Ryan as having "beautiful writing, breakneck pacing, a pulse-pounding mystery, and an irresistible romance."

Following accusations that her scientist father gruesomely experimented on animals, sixteen-year-old Juliet watched as her family and her genteel life in London crumbled around her--and only recently has she managed to piece her world back together. But when Juliet learns her father is still alive and working on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the old accusations are true. Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward, Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's insanity. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius--and madness--in her own blood. 

Available in Downloadable eBook and Audiobook formats.
Review from

I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses.
By: Robert Wagner
Recommended by Emily

"What might be most surprising in the pages of I Loved Her in the Movies is the streak of feminism that runs through his reflections on stardom, the nature of talent and the demands of a Hollywood career. Actors had it tough in the studio system, but actresses endured even more in a business that, Wagner notes, was run by and for men who expected women to be submissive." 

This title is available in Regular Print.
Review by Douglass K. Daniel, Associated Press


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