Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11, by James Donovan (2019)

Nonfiction | 14-Adult

Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11, by James Donovan

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the historical first landing of humans on the moon, it’s the perfect time to delve deeply into the science and the story behind that astonishing feat of human endeavour. I was alive but not even five years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon while Mike Collins piloted the orbiting command module, so I don’t actually remember this event. Despite that, it’s definitely part of my cultural history, as I’ve spent my life looking toward the stars and planets. This book is the story of the American space mission from Mercury through to Apollo 11; in fact, of the 400 pages of the actual narrative (there’s another 50 pages for addenda and index), only about 65 pages are devoted to the Apollo 11 voyage itself, from launch to return. So if all you want is the Apollo 11 story, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

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Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, by Markus Motum (2017, 2018)

Nonfiction | Ages 5-11

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, by Markus Motum (2018)

Imagine this – a rocket takes off from Earth, and after months of travelling in space, a descent module uses jets to hover over another PLANET and a little rover gently lands, wheels down. I love the story of the Mars rovers! We’ve now sent four, and two are still exploring the planet. Opportunity is still going strong after 15 years – wow! – and Curiosity landed in 2012. I’ve been following them for years, enjoying the “selfies” as well as the amazing landscape photos as well as geology data these little robot explorers are sending back to Earth.

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Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

Historical Fiction

Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

How amazing that a single dangling literary thread can lead to this lovely creation. There is a line in Anne of Green Gables in which Marilla refers to Gilbert Blythe’s father as a good friend, perhaps even her one-time beau. From that mysterious remark, Sarah McCoy has created an entire backstory for Marilla and Matthew before Anne, and it is a spellbinding story indeed. I’m a lifelong Anne fan, of course, having fallen under her spell more than 40 years ago. I have read the novels several times, and as I get older I enjoy them ever more, from Anne the spunky tween who first arrives on the Island to the mature woman of Ingleside, still blessed with a sense of humour, along with a heart full of both love and sorrow. But back to this creation.

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Ottolenghi SIMPLE, by Yotam Ottolenghi (2018)

Nonfiction | Adult

Ottolenghi Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Sometimes I’m totally oblivious to a hot new trend. Apparently Yotam Ottolenghi is practically a household name in Canadian kitchens. Never heard of him, myself. But the gorgeous cookbook on display at my local library called out to me, and the full-colour photos sealed the deal. Cookbooks without photos are cheaper but without that inspiration the recipes are likely to go untried, right? So into my bag it went, and I’ve been enjoying browsing these delicious and simple yet exotic takes on fresh produce. Ottolenghi is British, known for his modern recipes using tasty Middle Eastern spices and ingredients with a focus on fresh produce.

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The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths (2019)


The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths (2019)

Clare Cassidy teaches English at secondary school set in seaside England, at the very school where famed Victorian-era horror writer R.M. Holland lived and worked. She uses his short story, The Stranger, in her creative writing class for adults, in fact, and is such a fan of his work, she is writing a biography of the enigmatic author behind The Stranger, rumoured to have killed his wife. As October draws to a close, Clare is shocked to hear of the murder of her good friend and colleague Ella. Even more startling is the news that a note was found by the body, quoting a line from The Stranger. Clare soon finds herself at the centre of the investigation when she discovers an entry in her diary, written in the same handwriting as the note by Ella’s body.

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How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There), by Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz (2019)


How to College: What to Know Before You Go (And When You're There), by Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Hope Schwartz

If your teen is planning post-secondary education this fall, buy this book right now. What a great resource for a young adult who is eager, nervous, terrified or super-confident about this exciting new stage in life! I worked in student services at The University of British Columbia for nearly 10 years, and this book, written by two professors who have worked with thousands of first-year students, perfectly encapsulates what new students need to know. First, it’s different from high school in so many ways! Learn how to approach a prof in a professional way. Get a planner and use it. Make and stick to a budget. Make sure you know how to do your laundry, clean your room, and book a medical appointment. Join a club and make some friends.

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Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen, illustrated by Roz Chast (2018)


Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen, illustrated by Roz Chast (2018)

It’s graduation season at colleges and universities, so here’s a suggestion for a new grad in your life. A wee book (it’s just 43 pages, about $20 in hardcover), it is a good one to pair with the Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go, or if you can find it, H. Jackson Brown’s Life’s Little Instruction Book. This offers a gloomier perspective, and comes with couple of f-bombs along with lots of dark humour. Essentially, the message is that the world is going to hell, and you’ll find greater happiness (worth pursuing) by keeping your expectations low. Hiaasen, one of the few great writers for both kids and adults, begins by tearing apart the usual platitudes found in commencement speeches.

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