Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Thousand farewells by Nahlah Ayed

Lately, Nahlah Ayed’s book, A Thousand Farewells: A reporter’s journey from refugee camp to the Arab Spring has been making headlines.  This is an intriguing book.
Nahlah Ayed was born in Winnipeg.  She writes, “ Winnipeg was where we children were born … where we got our first degrees and took our first jobs.  It was where our hearts and early friendships flourished.  Winnipeg was family.”  At the age of six, Nahlah’s family moved to a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman Jordan.  It was at this point that Nahlah met her extended family and she learned the history of her people.

At the age of thirteen Nahlah returned to Canada and continued a normal life in Winnipeg until the first Gulf War and 9/11.  Fluent in Arabic, she returned to the Middle East as a journalist.  Since then, she has reported on the Arab struggle and has been a CBC correspondent since 2002.

It is rare that readers see a situation from so many perspectives.  First as a child, she experiences the dangers that attending school can bring.  Then, as an adult, she offers the poignant, deeply moving stories that are best coming from a journalist who shares the history and language.

A copy of this new book is available in all four branches.

Listen to a fascinating interview with the author on CBC: The Current.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Armada by John Stack

Some of the time, when one looks at the cover of a work of fiction, you might get a sense of what is waiting inside, but most of the time you don’t. The cover of John Stack’s new book, Armada, leaves no doubt. On the cover is a giant 16th century warship, its sails billowing, surrounded by other ships and fire.

All of us in school likely learned about the defeat of the Spanish Armada at the hands of Sir Frances Drake in 1587. This book makes that period of history come alive. The main character, a lowborn Englishman named Robert Varian, is a skilled sailor. His courage and bravery as a naval officer earn him a position as a trusted officer in Drake’s navy. But Robert guards a dangerous secret - he is a Catholic. Discovery of his secret would cost him his life.

Robert is ahead of his time, and able to separate church and state. He believes it is possible to fight for England and the queen while still following his conscience. He does not believe that England’s best interests lie with the Spanish crown.

Armada is rich is military and naval history and sure to please fans of those genres.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Better Homes and Gardens Herb Gardening

April Showers bring Reading Hours, but they also bring may flowers as the saying goes. This is the time of year when we begin dreaming of warm days in the garden and look to see what’s new in the gardening section. There has been huge interest by those living in urban areas to grow their own food. The library has many items on growing vegetables and recently we have acquired new books on herb gardening. Better Homes and Gardens Herb Gardening is one such book.

The variety of information on herb gardens that is found in this book is astonishing. Herb gardens come in all shapes and sizes. As well as the many ways to add herbs to the yard are lists of herbs that can add colour to the garden, herbs that can be paired with other plants; how to harvest them; and everything a novice or experienced gardener could want to know. The last half of the book is an encyclopedia of herbs that tells the reader what is the best site, and the planting, growing and harvesting specifics.

If growing herbs is in your plans this summer, a visit to the library is a good way to help that green thumb.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shadow of the Titanic & The Dressmaker

“The sound of the screaming was the worst thing, they said… the awful noise of fellow passengers calling out into the dark night was the one thing they could never forget.” So begins a fascinating new book, Shadow of the Titanic: the extraordinary stories of those who survived, by Andrew Wilson. April 14th marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. That there were not enough lifeboats, and many were not full are well known facts. Prejudice, economic status, cowardice and heroism all played a role in determining who lived and who died.

Another new book, The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is a novel based on the events of that fateful night and its aftermath. In this novel, Tess, a young, poor, aspiring dressmaker, is hired at the dock, to accompany the famous dress designer, Lady Duff Gordon. Tess barely escapes in one of the last lifeboats. The aftermath of the tragedy is the setting for most of the book. The events of the inquiry unfold as Tess picks up the pieces and begins her new life in her new country. The novel is impeccably researched and many of its characters were real people, although Tess was not.

These books have much in common and I suggest reading them both.