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These are all of the books that our Youth Ambassadors have read as part of the Digitally Lit Strategy.
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Rattled by Lisa Harrington| Nimbus Publishing
It’s just all so unfair. My ditzy sister is trying to get her claws into my future husband, plus, I’m pretty sure I’m living across the street from a murderer, and of course no one believes me. Could my life get any suckier? I didn’t know it yet, but apparently it could.
Fifteen-year-old Lydia, resigned to a boring summer in Halifax, is thrilled when Megan and her totally hot brother, Sam, move in across the street. But their rude and hostile mother, Mrs. Swicker, is strangely protective, and does everything she can to stop Lydia and her older sister, Jilly, from getting anywhere near her kids.
One day Lydia accidentally stumbles across something very puzzling in the Swickers’ basement. Determined to find some answers, Lydia enlists the help of Jilly. But the further they investigate, the more bizarre the discoveries.
Lydia’s suspicions about Mrs. Swicker are mounting, but she has no idea what a twisted, dangerous secret she has uncovered until it’s too late.
Foul Deeds by Linda Moore| Nimbus Publishing
A professional criminologist, Rosalind works with a cranky Private Investigator named McBride–a long-time association that has led her from one sordid foray to another in the world of crime. Her passionate escape is theatre and her latest venture is with an ad hoc company of out-of-work actors putting on a production of Hamlet. Ros finds her work on Shakespeare’s language to be a fabulous distraction until the uncanny parallels between life and art bring her face to face with murder.
Peter King, a respected environmental lawyer, dies suddenly- supposedly of heart failure- but his son Daniel, haunted by bad dreams, believes otherwise. Before McBride can get to the bottom of the case, Ros’s friend Sophie- the actress playing Ophelia- and her advisor Harvie Greenblatt, the prosecutor, are both drawn deep into danger. Ros and McBride discover that the case involves more than either of them bargained for: kidnapping, a city hall cover-up, a late-night chase and family secrets. Set in Halifax, Foul Deeds is an intriguing, fast-paced story with theatrical flare and plenty of humour. Linda Moore is the crime writer Maritime readers have been waiting for.
The Death and Life of Strother Purcell by Ian Weir| Goose Lane Editions
The man, the myth, the one-eyed legend: a frontier epic for fans of Ron Rash and Cormac McCarthy.
In 1876, the fabled lawman Strother Purcell disappears into a winter storm in the mountains of British Columbia, while hunting down his outlawed half-brother. Sixteen years later, the wreck of Purcell resurfaces – derelict, homeless and one-eyed – in a San Francisco jail cell. And a failed journalist named Barrington Weaver conceives a grand redemptive plan. He will write Purcell's true-life story. All it requires is a final act…
What unfolds is an archetypal saga of obsession, lost love, treachery, and revenge, told in Ian Weir's trademark funny, fast, wickedly intelligent style. A deadpan revisionist Western, refracted through a Southern Gothic revenge tragedy, The Death and Life of Strother Purcell is a novel about two cursed brothers, a pair of eldritch orphans, the vexed nature of truth, and the yearnings of that treacherous sonofabitch the human heart.
We All Will Be Received by Leslie Vryenhoek | Breakwater Books
Read by: Ellie
In 1977, a young woman steals a duffel bag full of drug money and flees her bad-news boyfriend, hitching a ride with a long-haul trucker to the world’s edge. She intends to disappear forever, to redefine herself on her own terms as Dawn Taylor.
But eventually, stars and satellites align. In a remote roadside motel, Dawn’s past catches up with her.
As a ferocious storm blows in, Vryenhoek vividly captures the desires of a host of characters whose paths have converged in this strange place. Ethan struggles to escape a tired narrative of childhood trauma. Cheryl is desperate to resuscitate a reputation blown apart on social media. And Spencer, an ex-con seeking to overcome his criminal past, chases a faint hope he’s glimpsed on a website built half a continent away. When the highway closes and the power fails, there’s nothing to keep them from disclosing who they really are.
Eloquent and propulsive, We All Will Be Received reveals the difficulty of finding redemption when the tightening web of an interconnected world has made the past inescapable.
The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes by Bridget Canning | Breakwater Books
Read by: Andre
Could you face your greatest fears—and survive?
Wanda Jaynes is about to lose her job amidst a mountain of bills, and she suspects her musician boyfriend might be romantically interested in her friend, Trish. But Wanda’s life changes radically on a routine trip to the grocery store when a gunman enters the supermarket and opens fire. When Wanda comes face to face with the shooter, she instinctively hurls a can of coconut milk at his head and knocks him unconscious. In the ensuing media storm, she’s hailed as a hero and miracle worker. But in the aftermath of so much attention, she receives strange emails and believes she’s being followed. As her fear and paranoia grow, both her private and professional lives hang in the balance. And it takes another act of bravery before she’ll learn who she really is.
Cricket in a Fist by Naomi K. Lewis | Goose Lane Editions
Read by: Rachel
One night, Agatha Winter's phone rings. Jasmine, her 13-year-old sister, has run away from home and needs to be picked up at the bus terminal. It's the anniversary of their mother's accident and subsequent split from the family. Jasmine is determined to exact revenge. Their mother, now a flashy self-help guru under a new moniker, preaches "willing amnesia": liberation by deliberately forgetting and disowning the past.
The Gathering by Theresa Meuse | Nimbus Publishing
Read by: Rachel
Alex is attending her first Mi’kmaw spiritual gathering, or mawiomi. Though she is timid at first, older cousin Matthew takes her under his wing. Meeting Elders along the way, they learn about traditional Mi’kmaw culture: the sacred fire, drumming, tanning and moccasin decorating, basket- and canoe-making, and enjoy a Mi’kmaw feast. Most importantly, Alex finds her voice in the talking circle.
With contemporary illustrations by the bestselling illustrator Art Stevens, The Gathering is an inclusive story that will educate and entertain Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers alike.
Time of Treason by Susan M. MacDonald | Breakwater Books
Read by: Kaylee
The second Tyon Collective book by Moonbeam winner, Susan M. Macdonald.
Picking up right where Edge of Time left off, Time of Treason continues the story of Riley and Alec, otherwise normal teens whose special genetic traits grant them powers they are only now learning to control – powers that also make them targets for the extraterrestrial Tyons.
Riley and Alec have traveled back in time to the start of their adventures, courtesy of Alec’s creepy time shifting abilities. But instead of fixing things, it’s made everything much worse. The Tyons have tracked their time shift and are hot on their heels, and Rhozan is back, more dangerous than ever. After a brazen attack, Alec finds himself out of the frying pan and definitely into the fire.
Can Riley save him? Or is Alec just a pawn of time?
Edge of Time by Susan M. MacDonald | Breakwater Books
Read by: Kaylee
Someone wants Alec dead.
And that someone can invade innocent bystanders, bending their will to his, forcing them to murder. That someone can travel through multiple dimensions, has powers beyond Earthly experience, and knows everything Alec knows.
Riley is a target too. The Tyons have come to Earth, looking for kids like Riley and Alec, who aren’t even aware of their special genetic traits and don’t know how to control them. It’s a race against time. Do they have the edge needed to save themselves, and more importantly, the world?
The Mystery of Ireland's Eye by Shane Peacock | Nimbus Publishing
Read by: Nolan
Dylan is twelve years old and embarking on his first ocean kayaking trip with his parents. He has spent the last year convincing them that he is ready for the challenging—and very dangerous—adventure. In fact, he has been determined to go ever since he heard about the destination: Ireland’s Eye. The small island off the coast of Newfoundland is the easternmost settlement in Canada. Or it was. It is now hauntingly empty, a ghost town clinging to the edge of the unforgiving Atlantic. What is it about Ireland’s Eye that so captivates Dylan he is willing to take such risks to get there? Does the ghost town have anything to do with the dreams Dylan keeps having of his favourite grandfather who has just passed away? And why does the old man on St. John’s docks grimly whisper, “Don’t go to Ireland’s Eye” when he hears of Dylan’s plans?
Footprints by Robert Rayner | Breakwater Books
When three teenage friends oppose the annexation of their favourite beach by a prominent businessman, their efforts to keep it public are rebuffed or ignored.
Their actions quickly move beyond conventional protest, despite the warnings of an adult friend — the gentle, enigmatic Dexter Lully. As the friends, frustrated and desperate, are driven towards the dark, morally ambiguous world of direct action, one embraces it, one is thrust into it, and one teeters on the brink, appalled at the widening rift he sees separating his friends from him, and from society, forever.
The Dead Letter by Finley Martin | Acorn Press
It is 2001 and the police constable’s girlfriend is murdered in a fit of jealous rage. When the constable realizes what he has done, he manages an elaborate cover-up. Only one person knows the truth.
Flash forward to 2012. Anne Brown is still running her late uncle, Bill Darby’s, detective agency after spending four or five years as his assistant. One day, the postman delivers an eleven year-old letter. The letter is addressed to her uncle from a woman named Carolyn Jollimore. She says she has evidence about a murder and begs for help from Darby. But Bill Darby is dead. And when Anne looks up the letter’s author, she finds that Jollimore too is now dead. Troubled with the evidence at hand, Anne must decide if she should investigate this eleven-year old murder.
The Last Wild Boy by Hugh MacDonald | Acorn Press
This is a new young adult novel by P.E.I.’s Poet Laureate. It is a dystopic story about Nora who lives in the walled city of Aahimsa, anidyllic community of girls and women working together to make a peaceful life free of the brutality of the outsiders. As the companionof the mayor of Aahimsa’s daughter, Alice, she enjoys privileges that other women from the working class can only dream of.But when she and Alice find an outsider baby abandoned within the city walls, Nora starts to question whether the outsiders poseas much of a threat to her civilization as she’s been taught. With the baby’s life in danger, Nora must decide whether she’s willingto give up everything she has to save him, and who she can trust to help her.
And All the Stars Shall Fall by Hugh MacDonald | Acorn Press
After years of struggle by Blanchfleur to maintain its independence, the idyllic walled city of Aahimsa, a community of girls and women dedicated to making a life of peace free of the brutality and aggression of outsiders, and its prospering Manuhome, are suddenly victims of a brutal surprise attack by the forces of The World Federation of City States. Mabon and Nora are in hiding outside the city where they witness all the horrors of the assault. Adam, their adoptive son, is no longer with them, having been placed under the protection of Doctor Ueland at the Manuhome. Adam, known to the federation as The Last Wild Boy has been hunted down since his unauthorized birth in Aahimsa. Blanchfleur the mayor of Aahimsa along with her daughter and granddaughter Tish, flee for their lives along with hundreds of the Manuhome workers. A few of them are thrown together and, although some are strangers and long-time enemies, they are forced by circumstance to attempt to find a way to escape extinction in the outside world against powerful and relentless common enemies, traitors and especially the federation’s murderous and heartless robotic army. They must deal with great dangers and unexpected revelations. Can they manage to work together and adjust their thinking enough to survive and find happiness against such seemingly insurmountable odds?
Close To The Fire by David Helwig | Goose Lane Editions
A snug country house, a snowy landscape in a place that could be Prince Edward Island, a small-town lawyer bumbling through an emotional crisis — Close to the Fire is a winter's tale that warms the heart while gently chilling the blood. Many years ago, the lawyer (then a student) persuaded the woman who is now his wife to desert Orland, her older husband, and run away with him. Now Orland arrives on their doorstep to die. The lawyer recalls the moral force her exerted to make Marijke change loyalties instead of simply enjoying a little adultery. Does sheltering a dying man atone for stealing his wife? The lawyer doesn't know and isn't sure he cares until a dramatic fire and Orland's death rearrange the domestic hearth.
The Lost Sister by Andrea Gunraj | Nimbus Publishing
The anticipated sophomore novel from the celebrated author of The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha, which Quill & Quire called “an exciting, memorable debut.” Partially inspired by the real-life experiences of a former resident of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, The Lost Sister bravely explores the topics of child abuse, neglect, and abduction against a complex interplay of gender, race, and class dynamics.
Alisha and Diana are young sisters living at Jane and Finch, a Toronto suburb full of immigrants trying to build new lives in North America. Diana, the eldest, is the light of the little family, the one Alisha longs to emulate more than anyone else. But when Diana doesn’t come home one night and her body is discovered in the woods, Alisha becomes haunted. She thinks she knows who did it, but can’t tell anyone about it.
Unable to handle the loss of their daughter and unaware of Alisha’s secret guilt, the family unravels. It’s only through an unusual friendship with Paula, an older woman who volunteers at her school, that Alisha finds reprieve. Once an orphan in the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children and estranged from her own sister, Paula helps Alisha understand that the chance for redemption and peace only comes with facing difficult truths.
Me & Mr. Bell by Philip Roy | Nimbus Publishing
Alexander Graham Bell, scientist, engineer, and inventor of the telephone, was not only famous for his intelligence, but also for his kindness. In this wonderful story set in 1908, ten-year-old Eddie MacDonald shares the great inventor’s passion for problem solving and for long, contemplative walks in the fields above Bras d’Or Lake, a beautiful lake near Bell’s real-life residence in Cape Breton, Canada.
But Mr. Bell is known all around the world for being smart and Eddie is just a local farm boy, struggling to learn to read and write. After a few chance encounters the elderly Mr. Bell befriends the young boy and takes an interest in his struggle. He encourages Eddie to celebrate his successes and never give up.
When Mr. Bell’s long ambition for manned flight results in the Silver Dart soaring over Bras d’Or Lake, Eddie is inspired to find creative solutions to his own challenges.
No Girls Allowed by Natalie Corbett Sampson | Nimbus Publishing
It’s 1977, and 10-year-old Tina couldn’t be happier about her life. Not because she just moved to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but because she’s finally old enough to make her dream come true: she can play on a real hockey team. But when she tries to join the league, she learns that girls aren’t allowed to play on the boys’ team—and there’s no team for girls.
Despite jeers from classmates and cruelty from some of the town’s adults, Tina is determined to play. She wants it more than anything. With the help of her family, Tina takes her fight to the Human Rights Commission. She’s allowed to play on a team while her case goes through court, but though she’s the best skater on the ice, even some of her teammates think she shouldn’t be there. From facing down angry coaches to testifying on the stand, Tina does everything for one big goal: to play real hockey.
Based on an inspiring true story, No Girls Allowed is a journey of passion, determination, and sheer love of the game.
The Goodbye Girls by Lisa Harrington | Nimbus Publishing
The students at Lizzie’s high school are notoriously terrible at breakups. Forget awkward conversations—they’re dumping each other via text. Inspired by the terrible breakups around her, sixteen-year-old Lizzie, strapped for cash and itching to go on the school’s band trip to NYC, teams up with her best friend, Willa, to create a genius business: personalized gift baskets—breakup baskets—sent from dumper to dumpee. The Goodbye Girls operate in secret, and business is booming. But it’s not long before someone begins sabotaging The Goodbye Girls, sending impossibly cruel baskets to seemingly random targets, undermining everything Lizzie and Willa have built and jeopardizing their anonymity. Soon family, friendship, and a budding romance are on the line. Will Lizzie end up saying goodbye to the business for good?
Queen of the Crows by Harmony Wagner | Acorn Press
Elsa’s mom has disappeared again, but eleven-year-old Elsa is doing her best to fool the world into thinking her life is normal. As food, money and luck begin to run out, Elsa fears she won’t be able to keep her desperate, lonely secret any longer.
Then one day a crow talks to Elsa and a world of wonder opens up to her. The queen of the crows has also gone missing and the rest of the crows struggle to know what to do next.
Could the secret, magical world of the crows be the key to Elsa’s mental health?
Based on the award-winning short film screened by Telefilm Canada at the Cannes Film Festival, Queen of the Crows explores a family story of mental illness, love and imagination and triumph.
Finding Grace by Daphne Greer | Nimbus Publishing
Abandoned on the steps of a Belgian convent as a baby, thirteen-year-old Grace has grown up among the nuns. But her days as a caretaker and companion for her older sister, Dotty, have come to a sad end with Dotty’s death, and now Grace is living among the girls who attend the convent’s boarding school—the very same girls who taunted and bullied her sister for having Down syndrome.
Grace desperately wants to know who left her at the convent; she wants a family and to not feel alone in the world. When Grace finds a three-decades-old diary from the 1940s in the convent library, her interest in the history of the convent is also piqued. Terrible things happened in the little village of Tildonk, Belgium, when the Nazis arrived, and terrible things happened to the mysterious girl who wrote the diary. Unravelling the mystery of the diary ultimately means unravelling the secrets of Grace’s life, which are more complicated than she ever imagined.
Based on the author’s own experiences at this very convent school, Finding Grace is an emotional look into the lives of girls in the strict world of convents, both in the 1940s and the 1970s, from the author of Silver Birch-shortlisted Jacob’s Landing.
Read by: Ellie
Making It Home by Alison DeLory | Nimbus Publishing
Tinker Gordon doesn’t want anything to change. He thinks that if he holds on tightly enough, his family, his tiny Cape Breton Island community, his very world will stay exactly the way it has always been. But explosions large and small—a world away, in the Middle East, in the land of opportunity in western Canada, and in his own home in Falkirk Cove—threaten to turn everything Tinker has ever known upside down.
Set variously in the heart of rural Cape Breton, on the war-torn streets of Aleppo and in a Turkish refugee camp, in the new wild west frontier of the Alberta oil patch, and in a tiny apartment in downtown Toronto, Tinker’s family, friends, and neighbours new and old must find a way to make it home.
In her adult fiction debut, Alison DeLory ponders a question as relevant in Atlantic Canada as anywhere in the world: where and how do we belong, and what does it take to make it home?
Read by: Katie
The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye | Nimbus Publishing
The drought has discontented the bees. Soil dries into sand; honeycomb stiffens into wax. But Cynthia knows how to breathe life back into her farm: offer it as an artists’ colony with free room, board, and “life experience” in exchange for backbreaking labour. Silvia, a wide-eyed graduate and would-be poet, and Ibrahim, a painter distracted by constant inspiration, are drawn to Cynthia’s offer, and soon, to each other.
But something lies beneath the surface. The edenic farm is plagued by events that strike Silvia as ominous: taps run red, scalps itch with lice, frogs swarm the pond. One by one, the other residents leave. As summer tenses into autumn, Cynthia’s shadowed past is revealed and Silvia becomes increasingly paralyzed by doubt. Building to a shocking conclusion, The Honey Farm announces the arrival of a bold new voice and offers a thrilling portrait of creation and possession in the natural world.
The Big Dig by Lisa Harringnton | Nimbus Publishing
Just as fourteen-year-old Lucy is starting to figure out life after her mom’s death, her dad ships her off to Cape John, her mom’s hometown, for the summer. Worse, she has to live with her nutty great-aunt Josie, who doesn’t cook edible food or suffer fools. Soon Lucy meets Colin, freshly moved from the West Coast, who’s digging an enormous hole in his new yard. He spends every day digging deeper in protest of his family’s unilateral decision to move to this tiny oceanside community. As Colin digs in the ground, Lucy digs through her family’s history, and eventually both of them uncover a shocking truth.
The Big Dig asks big questions of its readers: Are secrets ever okay? What defines a family? And can we ever really know our parents? Lisa Harrington’s light and funny voice blends seamlessly with Lucy’s grief, creating an authentic and riveting emotional landscape.
Found Drowned by Laurie Glenn Norris | Nimbus Publishing
Based on a true unsolved crime from 1877, Laurie Glenn Norris’s debut novel tells the story of two small towns linked by the disappearance of a teenage girl. Mary Harney is a dreamy teenager in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, whose ambitions are stifled by her tyrannical grandmother and alcoholic father. When Mary’s mother becomes ill, an already fragile domestic situation quickly begins to unravel until the September evening when the girl goes missing.
Across the water on Prince Edward Island we meet Gilbert Bell, whose son finds a body washed up on the beach below the family farm. As the community is visited first by the local coroner and then by investigators, Glenn Norris paints a fascinating and darkly comic picture of judicial and forensic procedures of the time. At once tightly plotted and pensive, the novel travels back to the circumstances that led to Mary’s disappearance and then back further to the circumstances of her parents’ marriage, all the while building toward a raucous courtroom finale.
Catching the Light by Susan Sinnott | Nimbus Publishing
This was the line between here and there. No landwash, no vague intertidal zone, no undecided. She stood at the edge, a mass of instincts and yearnings and despair, while the dawn painted itself in around her, shade by delicate shade.
The kids call her Lighthouse: no lights on up there. In a small town, everyone knows when you can’t read. But Cathy is just distracted by the light, lines, and artistry of everyday life. She is a talented artist growing up in tiny Mariners Cove and yearns for acceptance. She dreams of enrolling in art school, but getting there will be a struggle. Hutch Parsons is everything Cathy is not: charismatic, popular, smart. Overflowing with energy, he is confident in his plans for the future. But one icy evening his world is upended and those plans are swept away.
Dancing between points of view, Catching the Light explores the ordinary lives of two extraordinary people. With gorgeously lyrical language and a strong sense of place, this tender novel announces a bright new voice in Atlantic fiction. Winner of the 2014 Percy Janes First Novel Award for an unpublished manuscript.
Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor | Breakwater Books
Daisy’s job is to be as unobtrusive as possible. But when her father suddenly leaves and her mother breaks down, Daisy’s old life disappears, and she is set free in the rift created between her parents. Susie Taylor’s sharp, quick-witted prose carries Daisy through a family cataclysm, relationships with boys, and her increasingly confusing feelings towards girls, especially Wanda. A refreshingly perceptive and honest debut, Even Weirder Than Before explores the nature of family, friendships, and sexual awakenings—and introduces one of Newfoundland’s most exciting new writers.
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