Holy heck, I love board games! I have a whole shelf of them, packed with childhood favourites like Pay Day, Masterpiece, and Milles Bornes, along with a couple of newer (to me) ones like Firefly (based on the cult TV favourite), Scopa, an Italian card game, and a cool mix of cribbage and Scrabble called Kings Crib. I don’t play as much as I would like, since I’m completed deluded into thinking I have free time that somehow disappears every week thanks to paid and volunteer work, dog walks, and sewing. Oh well. Maybe this winter. Anyway, I was delighted to discover this title on my NetGalley feed, and finally found some time to read it through. It’s essentially a discussion of popular games, both good and bad in the authors’ view, from Pandemic to Monopoly to Dungeons & Dragons and more.
Got a ghost? Shelly and her grandmother are ready to help. Like all women in their family, they have the ability to see spirits and catch them. In their hair. Once caught, the ghosts can be set free and sent on their way, to wherever it is they are supposed to be. Shelly’s mum has it too, but she prefers to spend her time with the living. The three live in a happy home, and Shelly is delighted whenever her grandmother lets her accompany her on a ghost job. Sometimes the ghosts are in a house, sometimes they are animals, and sometimes they are quite happy to stick around. Grandmother says you can’t push them till they are ready to go, but often a cup of warm milk does the trick. When a tragedy befalls the family, Shelly finds herself drawing inward, choosing the company of ghosts over the real world.
I’m part of the growing fan base of Ruth Ware, the new young mystery author out of Britain who has given us several great stories, including The Woman in Cabin 10, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, and In a Dark, Dark Wood. She offers a modern twist on the gothic mystery – isolated settings, young women in peril – what’s not to like? This is a clever take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, a book I’ve admittedly not read. An epistolary novel, it opens with our protagonist writing to a lawyer pleading with him to take her case. She has been charged with the death of a child in her care, less than a week after taking a plum position as a nanny in the Scottish highlands country.
Lifelong friends Molly and Liza have grown apart, and finally schedule a skype call for an evening when Molly’s husband Daniel is away on business. The chat starts awkwardly but things start to warm up when one of Molly’s children calls out. She steps away to deal with it, with the connection live. Liza is idly looking at the screen when suddenly a masked man appears and upon hearing her cry, abruptly closes the laptop. Liza is in a panic – her phone calls to Molly go unanswered and so she calls 911. After an interminable silence, Molly finally sends her a curt text. Still deeply worried, Liza convinces her friend Max to join her on the road trip from Chicago to Molly’s home in Cincinnati.
Another National Book Award-winning author – two weeks in a row! Woodson’s latest novel, just 200 pages, is a lyrical exploration of the impact of our decisions and non-decisions. The book opens as 16-year-old Melody makes her “debut” in May 2001 Brooklyn. She comes down the stairs wearing the dress her mother was supposed to wear at her own coming-of-age event, but couldn’t because she was too far along in her teenage pregnancy. The music of Prince’s Darling Nikki plays – a triumph over Iris’ objections, through without the controversial lyrics. This is an honest and perceptive story that spans several generations and is told from multiple perspectives.
Here’s another title chosen after appearing in an e-newsletter from the Grand Forks & District Public Library. If you aren’t subscribed yet, give it a go! It’s a great way to discover new titles as well as others in the collection that might interest you but have escaped you so far. This is the first book by Gillian French I’ve read, but she’s got a couple of other YA titles under her belt. It’s October in Maine, and school has been in session for a month when Clara arrives in town with her parents as she starts her final year of high school. Her dad has a job helping to close down the mill, so this is a town on the slide. She’s hesitant about making friends, but quickly finds allies when a bully zones in on her.
This handy guide to finding food on your walks and hikes was featured in one of my library’s newsletters, on nonfiction. I’m subscribed to several of these great newsletters from the Grand Forks & District Public Library that let you know about new titles on various topics, and also occasionally feature interesting gems you might not know about. This is one of them. The book is a few years old, but offers some great guidance in finding edible shoots, leaves and berries all around you. There are 65 entries, many of them quite familiar, such as the well-known dandelion for its many edibles, from flower petals to roots and leaves, as well as surprising discoveries like the annoying Japanese knotweed (aka false bamboo) that is so difficult to eradicate from your home garden. Turns out its young shoots are a great alternative to those canned bamboo shoots called for in many Asian recipes. While the author is from the American east coast, she has chosen plants that are commonly found across North America, many of them recognizable from the garden, such as bee balm and spiderwort. On hikes, you will probably come across wild garlic and hawthorn berries. Our common saskatoons here in the Boundary Country are also listed, under the new-to-me moniker “juneberries,” Each entry is typically four pages long, and includes lots of full-colour photos. There is information on when to harvest, where to find it, and what parts of the plant are edible, along with helpful guidance on recognizing the plant, what and how to harvest, and how to use the bounty in a meal. There is a helpful introduction that addresses tools for harvesting, offers tips on where to forage, reminds readers to beware of sprays and herbicides in parks and to ask for permission on private property, and how to generally make sure you are making good food choices when foraging. I learned that fruits with a five-point crown (like apples, saskatoons, and even rosehips) are always safe to eat, and to stay away from mushrooms with gills. Appendices include some preserving guidance and basic recipes, resources for further research, and a very good index. My thanks to the Grand Forks & District Public Library for including this title in its nonfiction collection, and grabbing my attention in the newsletter! More discussion and reviews of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16192356