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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Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

Historical Fiction
Adult

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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The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths (2019)

Mystery
Adult

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)

Nonfiction
16-19

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)

Nonfiction
Adult

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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Canadian Rockies, 9th ed., by Andrew Hempstead (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult

Canadian Rockies: Including Banff & Jasper National Parks, by Andrew Hempstead

This is the second of two book reviews this week, encouraging you to travel British Columbia. Moon travel guides are known for their extensive and off-the-beaten-track approach, and this latest edition of the Canadian Rockies guidebook is no exception. The Rockies are big, and you can spend a lifetime exploring park trails, lakes, and parks, and not see it all. This book is best for those who are relatively new to the parks. Hampstead lives in Banff and knows his Rockies. He starts with an overview for first-time visitors, including the 12 best day hikes (I’ve done only three), offering one-week and two-week itineraries that showcase the region’s highlights.

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Camping British Columbia, the Rockies, and Yukon, 8th ed., by Jayne Seagrave (2018)

Adult
Nonfiction

Camping British Columbia, the Rockies and Yukon, 9th edition, by Jayne Seagrave

This is the first of two reviews this week. Both are on travel in B.C. and the Rockies, as I hope to inspire you to plan a road trip in our beautiful region. I have an earlier edition of this book, so I was happy to discover an updated version on the New Books shelf at my library. With more than half the 100,000 B.C. Parks campsites reservable online, guides like this help you discover exactly what you are looking for, whether that’s a destination park for the family or a hidden getaway as a backpacking haven. Seagrave opens with an introduction aimed at first-time campers, from reserving to selecting a spot at a first-come-first-served campground and setting up your temporary home.

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