Kelley Armstrong chooses The Shining Girls – and other authors’ picks for 2013

Each year Halifax Public Libraries hosts many author readings.  (Please see our Author Stage videos for a great selection of past readings.)  Authors are obviously readers themselves, and probably rather critical ones at that.

  So we asked some of our recent visiting authors, What was your favourite new book of 2013?  Here are some of their responses:
A.J.B. (John) Johnston, author of Louisbourg: Past, Present and Future and co-author of Ni-n na L-nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (M )’d be delighted to share a book I loved this year. It was The Son (M) by Philipp Meyer. The parts of the book where the central character is living with the Comanches are spellbinding. It’s an amazing achievement by the author. It is literally like the reader is there, and that’s pretty scary stuff at times. I was also very impressed by Fauna (M), the One Book NS pick this year. It made me think about a whole bunch of topics in many different ways. 

Sandra Barry, author of Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia’s “Home-Made” Poet (M) 

Right off the top of my head, I would nominate Linda Pannozzo’s The Devil & the Deep Blue Sea: an investigation into the scapegoating of Canada’s Grey Seal (M), published in the fall of 2013 by Ferwood. It is not only a superbly researched and and well-balanced approach to a highly complex subject, but it is amazingly well-written. Linda’s prose style is fluid and elegant. I highly recommend this book. 

Evelyn C. White, author of Alice Walker: a life

A gem!   Playing It Forward: 50 Years of Women and Sport in Canada (M) edited by Guylaine Demers,et al. book takes us inside the world of sport in Canada. It shines a light on the efforts of a wide range of players, from school girls fighting for the opportunity to play, to politicians and academics defining policy and developing theory. What they have in common is the courage to take chances, make claims and serve as role models. Women’s full physical prowess can threaten assumptions about gender. The struggle to achieve equality in sport has been integral to the feminist mission of the past 50 years. This book contains an inspiring collection of stories from those on the front lines: athletes, coaches, educators, and activists who stuck their necks out to bring about change. To read these stories is to swell with pride over the victories, to empathize with those whose efforts were toppled by discrimination, and to become re-energized to confront collectively the many hurdles left to clear” – publisher

Terry Punch, author of North America’s Maritime funnel : the ships that brought the Irish, 1749-1852. (M) Internal Enemy: slavery and war in Virginia, 1772-1832, (M) by Alan Taylor. Here is my nomination for a book published this year. It is an excellent explanation of the background from which the Chesapeake black refugees came after the War of 1812. Also fascinating reading as reading for its own sake. the library doesn’t hold this book, but for anyone interested in the history of Afro-Novascotians, this is a must read in my opinion.

Jon Tattrie
, author of Cornwallis: The Violent Birth of Halifax  (M)

My pick is: Scamps and Scoundrels:  true stories of Maritime lives and legends 
by Bob Kroll (M)

A miserly miller with a stash of gold, an island with an ever-changing list alias, some sly smugglers who nevertheless remember to send a thank you note, a stern schoolmaster who couldn’t tell time, and a thief with two left feet are just some of the shady individuals who grace the pages of Scamps and Scoundrels. Riotous, and witty, Bob Kroll writes these tales of infamy in a delightfully folksy style, bringing to life snippets of the Maritimes’ somewhat less glorious history. With over a hundred tales from the 1700s to the 1900s, there is an example of just about every odd, peculiar, silly, and ill-advised adventure you can think of. Smugglers, sailors, robbers, murderers, and sometimes just ordinary folk having a surprisingly bad day, Scamps and Scoundrels makes itself a worthy read.” – publisher

Keith Hollihan, author of Flagged Victor (M)
I realized when I tried to answer your question that I haven’t read much published in 2013. I’m very out of sync with the times! But how about The Luminaries (M) by Eleanor Catton which I just started and think highly of.

Kelley Armstrong, author of Omens  (M)

The Shining Girls (M)
by Lauren Beukes“A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace– until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back. Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery.” -Publisher

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