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An Interview with Ella Leya Author of The Orphan Sky

by Larisa
Author Q & A + Fiction / February 10, 2015

My first literary discovery of the 2015 was the novel The Orphan Sky published by Sourcebooks. This beautiful novel filled with music and folk tales tells the story of a young piano prodigy stuck in the realities of Soviet country.

What does it mean to live in one of the Soviet Republics, being torn between official propaganda and traditional believes? How does that feel to be raised as a devoted young pioneer not having access to the world outside of regime? Where does the freedom live—inside or outside the human soul?

An exceptionally talented musician, singer and composer Ella Leya is trying to find the answers to these and many other difficult questions in her debut novel. This partially autobiographical book is about passion and love, truth and lies, about loss and pain.

Ella Leya kindly agreed to answer my questions about her book, music and her childhood in the remote Azerbaijan.

Dear Ella, congratulations on your first published book and fantastic literary debut. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

You are a professional musician—singer, composer and performer. You have released more than ten highly successful CDs. How did you come to writing a book? What moved you, what inspired you to write a novel?

The pain of loss. At first, I escaped into music and poetry, completing, arranging, and recording the songs my son and I had written during those endless nights in the hospitals. But the music process is illusive and impulsive. I needed a stronger drug—something more cerebral—that would get me away from my reality and force me to relive my past, again and again, amending it, searching for answers.

"Music seemed to flow out of the painting. Piano arpeggios in scarlet layers. Violin pizzicatos in gold and silver brushstrokes. A dark D minor progression of chords sweeping by, trailed by a velvety soft harmony in white. Flutes spilling nostalgic blues and violets into the ever-changing palette of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no 3."this is a quote from the first chapter of your novel The Orphan Sky. When I started reading the book, this incredibly poetic language, these wonderful metaphors immediately caught my attention. It seemed to me you were able to see people, their feelings—all the world around you through music. Is this true?

I caught a bug of poetic metaphors from my beloved Russian poets from the beginning of the twentieth century—Anna Akhmatova, Nikolai Gumilev, Osip Mandelstam. Their poetry of passions and senses, expressed through the imagery of nature, has taught me to see and hear the world through Renoir’s palette of harmony and Caravaggio’s orderly dissonance, through Chopin’s nostalgia and Rachmaninoff’s fatalism, through a contagious pulse of Azerbaijani mugham and a bewitching spontaneity of Lady Day.

How long did it take you to write the novel? Did you have to rewrite the whole pages before moving on? Can you please describe the process of working on the novel?

Three and a half years. I had to write and rewrite down to every word before moving on, then go back and do it over and over again. I was writing the book on one breath. Knowing how capricious and fickle a muse can be, I was afraid to let her slip away. Hours reserved for work turned into days and months. For me, the creative process is like my favourite chocolate. I can’t stop eating it until it’s all finished.

How did you come up with the title?

The Orphan Sky title is a brainchild of my publisher. My own—original title— was 'Maiden Tower.'

The novel takes place in your home city Baku. There are fantastic descriptions of the city—the reader envisions the old narrow cobblestone streets, beautiful mosaic walls, feels the magic atmosphere of Isheri SheherOld Town and smells the odours of "hot and creamy" air. The central role in the book plays the real medieval tower called Maiden Tower and old legends about a princess and her love drown in the Caspian Sea. You also mention Gargoyle Castle, Villa Annelise, Gevharaga Mosque, Taza Bazaar. Are these all real historical places in Baku?

All these places are intimately linked with the history of Baku, but some of them are real only in my imagination. Villa Annelise is a symbol of Baku’s ‘golden age’—the oil boom at the beginning of the twentieth century—when nouveau riche oil barons turned provincial Baku into a Paris of the East. They built magnificent palaces throughout the city in many architectural styles—classical, baroque, Venetian Gothic, French Rococo, Italian Renaissance. I designed Villa Annelise out of the architectural, artistic, and historical motifs of those palaces. After the revolution, Villa Annelise turns into a Gargoyle Castle, symbolizing the period of communism and oppression. Gevharaga Mosque is the reimagined image of the Blue Mosque that stood next to my childhood home. Taza Bazaar is a replica of Nasimi Bazaar where my mom took me with her on Sundays.

I guess, the name of your leading character, Ella Badalbeili is not just a random name either? Does this name have a story behind?

As a child, my sister had a friend—Badalbeili. The sound of her name seemed so melodious and theatrical. Later on, I learned that the name Badalbeili belonged to the dynasty that had given Azerbaijan many wonderful musicians, among them Afrasiyab Badalbeili. He wrote the first Azerbaijani national ballet 'Maiden Tower.' So the choice of name for my leading character was natural.

The life of your heroine Leila is turned upside down at the moment when she enters the green door and hears the voice of Liza Minnelli, a “voice of dark velvet”. Was there a “green door” in your life, a person or event that had the greatest impact on your future?

My mother, Jane Golik, had the greatest impact on my life choices. A free-spirited artist—a quality she had been hiding all her life behind a strict, uncompromising exterior—she challenged me to strive for the skies and never give up. My mother took me to my first classical piano concert at the Baku Philharmonic Hall, making me fall in love with Chopin. That was my green door to the world of classical music. The “green door” event described in the book is autobiographical. There was a small music shop with the green door that opened across the street from my school. The rumour had it that the owner was a drug dealer, or a sorcerer, or an American spy. Despite the warnings, or maybe because of them, I went into the shop. The charismatic shop owner, a poster of glamorous Liza Minnelli, her voice dripping with my mother’s hidden nostalgia for places faraway and unknown… Well, I was hooked.

I am fascinated by the female characters in the novel. The stories of Leila, Leila’s mother, Aunt Zeinab, Almaz, Professor Sultan-Zade are incredibly powerful. You describe their world as "the kingdom of crooked mirrors". Why are none of these women happy?

How can these extraordinary women be happy in the male-dominated, communist-subjugated society of lies and censorship? They try. Leila’s mother and professor Sultan-zade realize their ambitions by breaking the stigma of the patriarchal culture and becoming successful career women; Aunty Zeinab is a craftswoman who continues a tradition of the ancient Azerbaijani theater; Leila’s best friend Almaz—and her replica Almaz-the-Doll—is a symbol of Azerbaijani female beauty; Leila is a national musical treasure. But they all have to pay for their successes, dreams, ambitions, originality with their broken hearts and tragic destinies.

Although the story is set in late 70s, the realistic main plot magically intertwines with fairy tales and legends of the old Azerbaijan. This makes the novel deep, sophisticated, multidimensional. The characters, their feeling and emotions become almost palpable. How did the traditional Azeri epos influence your soul? Do you think the new millennia kids need to learn these ancient tales?

Of course. And not only kids. The adults would benefit from visiting the world of the ancient tales as well. After all, the literary folklore possesses the same magical powers as music—to penetrate the barriers of cultures, times and accumulated cynicism, and to reach those remote corners of our souls we had lost the connection with. Every legend, myth, fairy tale, proverb is a small treasure chest with the numerous hidden messages of emotional wisdom and humanity. As a child, I always kept a book of fairy tales from around the world under my pillow. In some ways, I continue seeing the reality through the simple but multi-layered truths of the traditional folklore of the East. So I had woven my favorite legends, tales and sayings into the fabric of my book, letting them mirror the storylines of my characters and expand their emotional presence.

The realities of Soviet eraPioneer and Komsomol organizations, red flags and Lenin monuments everywhere, the ban on religious practices—were deeply rooted in everyday activities and affected people’s life style. How did these two different images of Azerbaijan co-exist in the young mind of your heroine and in your mind?

Both images have become the integral halves of my personality. The exotic, fairy-like soul of ancient Baku turned me into an eternal romantic—musician and poet. The Soviet ideology (a form of the religious extremism) and a subsequent escape and liberation left me with a deep mark of cynicism. Both my heroine Leila and I are destined to live with this dual inheritance, having to choose between the voice of the heart and the need for survival.

Not too many people in the world have heard anything about Azerbaijan. Thank to your novel, from the little spot on the world map, in the middle of nowhere it stands up as a real country, where people live and die, love and suffer. Your novel finds a perfect place on a book shelf along with the best works of writers-immigrants, whose unique background and experience offer the American reader a valuable insightful glimpse into what life is like outside of America. What makes talented people like you, Alexandar Hemon, Khaled Hosseini, Jumpa Lahiri, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Kseniya Melnik to mentally go back in time and space and write about their native land?

Nostalgia for the long gone places, times and people has always been a powerful source of inspiration for the artists. And the gene of nostalgia is quite resilient in us, immigrants, until the second generation. As soon as I arrived in America, I, like a lizard, dropped my past in exchange for new language, culture, and lifestyle so I could adopt and adjust to my new home country as soon as possible. A few years later, I successfully merged into the mainstream, speaking and even thinking in English, being able to communicate my feeling and views. And then I realized how much my American friends and my artistic collaborators were captivated and inspired by my Russian/Azeri humor, music, and culture—something that had never ceased to exist inside me. The immigrants bring their unknown worlds to America. This is their contribution to the society. And we, the artists, are endowed and blessed with the task to introduce our native lands through out art.

You were born and raised in Azerbaijan and immigrated as an adult. How did you like it in US? Was it easy for you to adjust? How do you perceive yourself within American culture now? Is there anything you don’t like and will never be able to accept?

I had begun adjusting to American culture long before I came to the US, learning English language from jazz recording, playing and singing with the Western jazz musicians, entertaining American ambassador in Moscow. So the process of tuning up to America went quickly and smoothly. Less than two months upon our arrival in Virginia, I toured with my own jazz orchestra Selah and taught voice at the university. America is where I belong. America is where I can be myself. Is she perfect? Of course not, but it is still much better than the rest of the world. Well, except for Canada, maybe. One thing I could never get used to in America—deserted streets, no pedestrians, passing cars.

After all these years, are you more American or Azerbaijani ? Is there anything in your Azerbaijani character that you value the most?

I am American now, more so since I’ve been living in London for the last couple of years. But I continue to appreciate the emotional aesthetics of the East. As for my 'Azerbaijani' character, I value the closeness of my family and the sense of loyalty the most.

Do you ever feel nostalgic about your childhood in Soviet Azerbaijan? Did you ever go back there after the Soviet Union fell apart and the ancient country returned on its own historical path?

Working on this book, I had satisfied to some extend the nostalgia for the times and the places of my childhood. I would love to visit my homeland. But as it usually happens with a favorite treat, I’ve been travelling around the world, leaving a visit to Azerbaijan for dessert.

If I ask you to describe your native Azerbaijan in only one sentence, what would that be?

The land of sun and fire at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, East and West, surrounded by the austere Caucasus Mountains and washed by the warm Caspian Sea—an Azeri fairytale of my childhood.

There is some autobiographical detail in the novel, but it’s still a work of fiction. Did you ever think of writing a memoir?

I had finished my memoir before I started working on The Orphan Sky. Will I ever publish it? Time will tell.

I know that this novel was not your first writing experience and that you used to write short stories before. What are they about? Do you plan to publish your stories?

Some of my short stories had found their way into the narrative of The Orphan Sky; others have metamorphosed into the lyrics of my songs. The songs’ titles—‘Irresistible Lies,’ ‘I Don’t Know Why,’ ‘Femme Fatale,’ ‘Touch’n Go Game’—pretty much reveal the themes of those short stories.

Your novel is devoted to your son Sergey. Because of leukaemia, this little soul passed away in the age of nine. "Sergey - your dreams continue... ", says the epigraph. What did your son dream about? Which of his dreams do you still have to accomplish?

My son Sergey dreamed of being alive and being creative. The Orphan Sky, all our music, the future books—it is all Sergey; I only push the keys.

I wouldn't have had the pleasure to meet you if not your book. And still, first of all you are a musician. It wouldn't be right if I wouldn't ask you about music. What is music for you?

My profession and leisure. Language of communication with interesting creative people. Music is a divine gift that takes me beyond human understanding and allows me to be alone with myself without being lonely.

Your music is a magical blend, an intoxicating cocktail of melodies of your Azerbaijani soul, European classical music and American jazz. It's a very unique combination. Do you think your music is niche, elitist or you believe everyone is able to appreciate it? What is your audience?

Once upon a time in my youth I prided myself with the fact that my music was complicated, intellectual and appealed to an elite, niche audience. Now I think differently. Good, sincere music has the capability to bypass any intellect and strike into the heart of a listener. So my goal in creating music is to stay true to my own instincts rather than to tailor it to the taste of the audience.

What’s your favourite piece of music of all time? Which musical composition astounded you, shocked you, and had the greatest impact on you? What kind of music do you listen to when you are upset? When you are happy?

Sad or happy, I don’t listen to music. I play it. And sing. Billie Holiday’s 'Body and Soul,' Nina Simon’s 'Strange Fruit,' Ballade #1 by Chopin, Sonata Pathetique by Beethoven, Piano Concerto #20 by Mozart, Piano Concerto # 3 by Rachmaninoff. This is the soundtrack of my book. These are the pieces that continue to amaze, shock and inspire me.

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing books or composing music?

I walk the streets of London for hours; hang out at my favourite Wallace Collection surrounded by art; attend ballet performances; go to the movies; visit Paris on Wednesdays; cook for my family… do all those normal things that all normal people do.

Ella, I appreciate this opportunity to talk to you. Thank you for your time. I wish lots of success for you and for your book.


New Releases: February 2015 Highlights

by Dan
Art & Photography + Fiction + History + News + Psychology & Self-Help / January 21, 2015

February brings new books from Kristin Hannah, X-Files star David Duchovny, Jeffrey Archer, Scott McCloud, Richard Price (writing Harry Brandt), and more... Here are some of the highlights available from Raincoast Books next month..

FICTION

HISTORICAL

★ ★ FEBRUARY 2015 INDIE NEXT #1 PICK! ★ ★

The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France.

"This moving, emotional tribute to the brave women who fought behind enemy lines during the war is bound to gain the already immensely popular Hannah an even wider audience."—Booklist (starred review)

Available February 3


HUMOUROUS

Holy Cow

A Modern-Day Dairy Tale

David Duchovny

A rollicking, globe-trotting adventure with a twist: a four-legged heroine you won't soon forget.

Elsie Bovary is a cow, and a pretty happy one at that-her long, lazy days are spent eating, napping, and chatting with her best friend, Mallory. One night, Elsie and Mallory sneak out of their pasture; but while Mallory is interested in flirting with the neighbouring bulls, Elsie finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a bright Box God-and what the Box God reveals about something called an "industrial meatfarm" shakes Elsie's understanding of her world to its core...

"Between the book’s sly humor, gently humanist (animalist?) message and wry illustrations by Natalya Balnova, this is a pseudo–children's book that smart adults should greatly enjoy."—Kirkus Reviews(starred review)

 


Available February 3


THRILLERS

Last Days of the Condor

James Grady

The Condor returns in this sequel to James Grady's bestselling Six Days of the Condor and Shadow of the Condor

Last Days of the Condor is the bullet-paced, ticking clock saga of America on the edge of our most startling spy world revolution since 9/11. Set in the savage streets and Kafkaesque corridors of Washington, DC, shot through with sex and suspense, with secret agent tradecraft and full-speed action, with hunters and the hunted, Last Days of the Condor is a breakneck saga of America's secrets from muckraking investigative reporter and author James Grady.

"Grady's anti-heroic spy returns in fine form in an up-to-the-minute novel to which the author, a former Washington investigator, brings plenty of insider knowledge."—Kirkus  Reviews

Available February 17


The Whites

Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt

The Whites is the electrifying debut of a new master of American crime fiction, Harry Brandt—the pen name of novelist Richard Price.

Richard Price, one of America’s most gifted novelists, has always written brilliantly about cops, criminals, and New York City. Now, writing as Harry Brandt, he is poised to win a huge following among all those who hunger for first-rate crime fiction.

 


  

"Price (Lush Life) is one whale of a storyteller by any name, as evinced by the debut of his new brand—okay, Brandt—a gripping, gritty, Greek tragedy of cops, killers, and the sometimes-blurry line between them."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"a strong contender for best crime novel of 2015."—Booklist (starred review)

In the wake of rage and sorrow, ordinary people respond by going crazy and screwing up. In this far-from-ordinary novel, Price/Brandt explores the hows and whys. Fasten your seat belt."—Kirkus Reviews 

Available February 17


SUSPENSE

Mightier Than the Sword

Jeffrey Archer

The next breathtaking installment in Jeffrey Archer's New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling Clifton Chronicles series carries the Clifton family into the late 1960s.

Jeffrey Archer's compelling Clifton Chronicles continue in this, his most accomplished novel to date. With all the trademark twists and turns that have made him one of the world's most popular authors, the spellbinding story of the Clifton and the Barrington families continues.

 

Available February 24


FANTASY

A Darker Shade of Magic

V. E. Schwab

Prepare to be dazzled by a world of parallel Londons—where magic thrives, starves, or lies forgotten, and where power can destroy just as quickly as it can create.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, with one mad king—George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered—and where Kell was raised alongside Rhys Maresh, the rougish heir to the throne. White London—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now....

"Confident prose and marvelous touches—a chameleon coat, a scarlet river of magic, a piratical antiheroine—bring exuberant life to an exhilarating adventure among the worlds."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine."Kirkus Reviews

Available February 24


GRAPHICA

The Sculptor

Scott McCloud

The long-awaited magnum opus from comics superstar Scott McCloud: a spellbinding adult urban fable about a wish, a deal with Death, the price of art, and the value of life.

David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the eleventh hour isn't making it any easier! 

"Drawn in sharp, sure-handed lines that jump from intimate blocks of wry but poignant interactions with other characters to dramatically realized city scenery, McCloud's epic generates magic and makes an early play for graphic novel of the year."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The fluidity of McCloud’s visual narrative carries us along with a sweep impossible to duplicate in prose, and, through to its climax, the story’s commitment to its harsh, inevitable, but ultimately sublime outcome qualifies this as a work of stunning, timeless graphic literature."Booklist (starred review)

Available February 3


NONFICTION

HISTORY

A Kim Jong-Il Production

The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power

Paul Fischer

The Orphan Master’s Son meets Argo in the extraordinary true story of Kim Jong-Il’s 1978 kidnapping of the golden couple of South Korean cinema, the movies they made, and their escape.

A nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion, and politics, author Paul Fischer's A Kim Jong-Il Production offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea's history that helps explain how it became the hermetically sealed, intensely stage-managed country it remains today.

"A meticulously detailed feat of rare footage inside the DPRK’s propaganda machinery."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Fischer’s entertaining narrative paints an arresting portrait of a North Korean 'theater state,' forced to enact the demented script of a sociopathic tyrant."—Publishers Weekly

Available February 3


RELIGION

Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery

Six Holy Objects That Tell the Remarkable Story of the Gospels

David Gibson and Michael McKinley

A companion book to CNN’s six-night, six-hour primetime television series that takes viewers on a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible.

Finding Jesus explores six major artefacts, including the Shroud of Turin, the True Cross, and John the Baptist, that give us the most direct evidence about the life and world of Jesus. The book and attendant CNN series provide a dramatic way to retell "the greatest story ever told" while introducing a broad audience to the history, the latest controversies, and newest forensic science involved in sorting out facts from the fiction of would-be forgers and deceivers.

Available February 24


SELF-HELP

The Fear Cure 

Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul

Lissa Rankin, M.D.

Not many people in the medical world are talking about how being afraid can make us sick—but the truth is that fear, left untreated, becomes a serious risk factor for conditions from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. Now Lissa Rankin, M.D., explains why we need to heal ourselves from the fear that puts our health at risk and robs our lives of joy—and shows us how fear can ultimately cure us by opening our eyes to all that needs healing in our lives.

Available February 24


Soul Shifts

Transformative Wisdom for Creating a Life of Authentic Awakening, Emotional Freedom & Practical Spirituality

Barbara De Angelis

Soul Shifts is the ground-breaking new book from New York Times best-selling author and renowned transformational teacher Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D. Now, in her most powerful offering yet—and the culmination of her life's work—Dr. De Angelis offers a practical handbook for awakening, and a brilliant re-envisioning of the journey of personal and spiritual transformation that will inspire and enlighten long-time seekers as well as new arrivals to the path of growth.

Available February 24


Goddesses Never Age 

The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Though we talk about wanting to "age gracefully," the truth is that when it comes to getting older, we're programmed to dread an inevitable decline: in our health, our looks, our sexual relationships, even the pleasure we take in living life. But as Christiane Northrup, M.D., shows us in this profoundly empowering book, we have it in us to make growing older an entirely different experience, for both our bodies and our souls. In chapters that blend personal stories and practical exercises with the latest research on health and ageing, Dr. Northrup lays out the principles of ageless living, from rejecting processed foods to releasing stuck emotions, from embracing our sensuality to connecting deeply with our Divine Source.

Available February 24


ART & PHOTOGRAPHY

life.love.beauty

Keegan Allen

A rich visual and literary tour of the international star's personal experiences, observations, travels, passions and aspirations.

Keegan Allen is currently known to fans of the ABC Family hit television series, Pretty Little Liars. He has also appeared in numerous independent films and made his New York Stage debut in the acclaimed MCC production of Small Engine Repair. Keegan was given his first camera at age nine, and began a lifelong study and pursuit of photography. life.love.beauty is a selection of photographs taken since his childhood. 

Available February 3


104 Things to Paint

In the spirit of the bestseller 642 Things to Draw, this guided painting book is filled with fun ideas that will have artists of all skill levels reaching for their paintbrushes. Covering everything from the straightforward (a color wheel) to the curiously quirky (a hot mess)—and with extra-thick textured pages that make it easy to paint directly inside the book—this is the perfect inspirational on-the-go art studio for beginning and seasoned painters alike.

 

Available February 17


Ausma Zehanat Khan Toronto Book Signing

by Dan
Fiction + Mysteries and Thrillers + News / January 19, 2015

Join Canadian author Ausma Zehanat Khan for the launch of her critically acclaimed debut novel The Unquiet Dead, 6:00PM on January 28th at Ben McNally Books in Toronto.  

Ausma holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law (with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans), and was Editor-in-Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine targeted to young Muslim women. The Unquiet Dead, published by Minotaur last week, is a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice. Described by the Associated Press as "an outstanding debut that is not easily forgotten," it will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

The Unquiet Dead Book Launch
Ben McNally Books
366 Bay Street, Toronto

Wednesday, January 28 | 6:00 PM 

 

 

Praise for The Unquiet Dead:

"This whodunit is layered into events as recent as the Maher Arar affair or Toronto’s fears of “homegrown” urban terrorists. Khan, who holds a Ph.D. in international human-rights law, knows her subject, knows her hometown, and knows how to keep the suspense building. This is a writer to watch."
Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail 

"An intelligent plot and graceful writing make "The Unquiet Dead" an outstanding debut that is not easily forgotten."The Associated Press

"Khan is a refreshing original, and The Unquiet Dead blazes what one hopes will be a new path guided by the author's keen understanding of the intersection of faith and core Muslim values, complex human nature and evil done by seemingly ordinary people."Los Angeles Times

"Khan’s stunning debut is a poignant, elegantly written mystery laced with complex characters who force readers to join them in dealing with ugly truths."Kirkus Reviews


Making Local Architecture: Brian MacKay-Lyons Book Launch Tonight

by Dan
Architecture + News / January 15, 2015

Join Canadian architect Brian MacKay-Lyons at the Dalhousie University School of Architecture at 7:00PM this evening for the launch of his new book Local Architecture: Building Place, Craft, and Community. Brian will be joined by architects Tom Fisher and Richard Kroeker for a panel discussion moderated by Christine Macy. A reception and book signing will follow. 

Making Local Architecture
Thursday, January 16
7:00PM (books for sale from 6:30PM)

Dalhousie University School of Architecture
5410 Spring Garden Road
Auditorium HA 19


Raincoast Authors at OLA Super Conference 2015

by Dan
Fiction + News / January 14, 2015

Raincoast Books will be at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto again this year. Drawn & Quarterly cartoonist Seth is a keynote speaker on Wednesday January 28th, and you can meet a host of other Canadian authors at our booth (#417) — including Hilary Davidson, A.M. Dellamonica, Jess Keating, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Courtney Summers, Jillian Tamaki, and Peter Watts — on the Thursday and Friday. Stop by and say hello!


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28TH

Seth: Keynote Speaker

SETH has been producing comic art for twenty years. His books include It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken; Wimbledon Green; and George Sprott. Apart from comics, he is the illustrator for the Lemony Snicket 'All the Wrong Questions' series. He is also the designer behind the 'Complete Peanuts' series. From his home in Guelph, Ontario, he does illustrations for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker.

Palookaville 22
Seth
ISBN 9781770461635 | $22.95 cl
Drawn & Quarterly | April 21

This installment of Seth's critically acclaimed one-man anthology features an autobiographical comic about his childhood, part four of his long-running Clyde Fans serial, a photo essay about a barbershop he designed, and a comic strip about the art of barbering.

 

Palookaville 21  
Seth
ISBN 9781770460645 | $21.95 cl
Drawn & Quarterly

Continuing the new semi-annual hardcover format for Palookaville in volume 21, Seth presents two very different autobiographical pieces, and the continuation of Part Four of the ongoing Clyde Fans serial.

 


THURSDAY, JANUARY 29TH

10:00AM Hilary Davidson (Booth #417)

HILARY DAVIDSON won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel for The Damage Done.That book also earned a Crimespree Award and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis and Macavity awards. Davidson's short stories have been featured in publications from Ellery Queen to Thuglit and in many anthologies.

 

Blood Always Tells
Hilary Davidson
ISBN 9780765333544 | $29.99 cl
Forge Books

Dominique Monaghan just wanted to get even with her two-timing, married boyfriend, a washed-up boxer stuck in a toxic marriage to a dangerously spoiled socialite. However, an elaborate blackmail scheme soon lands her in the middle of an unexpected kidnapping... and attempted murder. But who is actually out to kill whom?

Available in paperback March 10, 2015


1:00PM Courtney Summers (Booth #417)

COURTNEY SUMMERS is the author of young adult novels including Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, and Cracked Up to Be. She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she's not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.

 

 

All the Rage
Courtney Summers
ISBN 9781250021915 | $21.99 cl
St. Martin's Griffin
Ages 12+ | April 14

In her hardcover debut, from the author of Cracked Up To Be and This is Not a Test, comes a powerful new young adult novel that examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

 

This Is Not a Test
Courtney Summers
ISBN 9780312656744 | $10.99 pb
St. Martin's Griffin
Ages 13-18

When six teens are trapped inside their high school during the zombie apocalypse, they quickly discover the line between the living and the dead isn’t as clear as they think in this chilling story of survival from the author of Cracked Up To Be and Fall For Anything.


2:00PM Ausma Zehanat Khan (Booth #417)

AUSMA ZEHANAT KHAN holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. She is a former adjunct law professor and was Editor-in-Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine targeted to young Muslim women.

 

The Unquiet Dead
Ausma Zehanat Khan
ISBN 9781250055118 | $29.99 cl
Minotaur

IndieNext Pick January 2015

Ausma Zehanat Khan's haunting debut follows detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty as they investigate the death of a man who may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre.


3:00PM A. M. Dellamonica & Peter Watts (Booth #417)

A. M. DELLAMONICA is the author of Indigo Springs, winner of the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, and its concluding sequel, Blue Magic. Her short stories have appeared in a number of fantasy and science fiction magazines and anthologies, and on Tor.com.

 

PETER WATTS is the author of the Hugo Award-winning short story The Island. His novel Blindsight was also nominated for a Hugo, and he has been described as "a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive" by The Globe and Mail.

 

 

 

 

Child of a Hidden Sea
A. M. Dellamonica
ISBN 9780765334497 | $29.99 cl
Tor Books

A rousing tale of adventure and adversity, politics and personal trials, in the fascinating world of Stormwrack Archipelago.

Available in paperback June 2, 2015

 

 

Echopraxia
Peter Watts
ISBN 9780765328021 | $28.99 cl
Tor Books

Prepare for different kind of singularity in Peter Watts' Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.

Available in paperback June 16, 2015

 


FRIDAY, JANUARY 30TH

10:00AM Jess Keating (Booth #417)

As an author and zoologist, JESS KEATING has been sprayed by skunks, bitten by crocodiles, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she spends most of her time writing books for adventurous and funny kids.

 

 

How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel
Jess Keating
ISBN 9781402297588 | $9.99 pb
Sourcebooks | Ages 9-12

Ana Wright's summer just got terrifying. She's finally getting used to living in a zoo (no, seriously-she lives with her family in an actual zoo), when she's assigned to work in the new shark tank. With her worst enemy.

 

 

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied
Jess Keating
ISBN 9781402297557 | $9.99 pb
Sourcebooks | Ages 9-12

Ana Wright's social life is now officially on the endangered list: she lives in a zoo (umm, elephant droppings!?), her best friend lives on the other side of the world. All Ana wants is to fade into the background. Yeah, that's not going to happen.


11:00AM Jillian Tamaki (Booth #417)

JILLIAN TAMAKI is the co-creator of the graphic novel Skim, which was listed as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2008 and was nominated for four Eisner Awards and a Governor General's Literary Award. This One Summer, her second co-authored work with Mariko Tamaki, was published in 2014, and spent more than a month on the New York Times bestseller list.

 

SuperMutant Magic Academy
Jillian Tamaki
ISBN 9781770461987 | $22.95 pb
Drawn & Quarterly | April 28

Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humour and irreverence.


New Releases: January 2015 Highlights

by Dan
Fiction + Politics + Psychology & Self-Help / January 06, 2015

Happy New Year! Here are some of the best new books available from Raincoast in January 2015...

FICTION

HISTORICAL

★ ★ JANUARY 2015 INDIE NEXT PICK! ★ ★

The Magician's Lie

Greer Macallister

Will a magician ever reveal her secrets-even when her life is at stake? 

The Amazing Arden is the most notorious female illusionist of her day, renowned for sawing a man in half. One night, with policeman Virgil Holt in the audience, she swaps her saw for a fire ax. A new trick or an all-too-real murder? When a dead body is discovered, the answer seems clear. But under Holt's interrogation, what Arden's story reveals is both unbelievable and spellbinding. Even handcuffed and alone, she is far from powerless. During one eerie night, Holt must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free...and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.

"This well-paced, evocative, and adventurous historical novel from Macallister, a poet and short story writer, chronicles the career of America’s preeminent female stage illusionist at the turn of the 20th century, who, as the Amazing Arden, created the lurid, controversial stage act known as the Halved Man."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Available Now


FANTASY

The Just City 

Jo Walton

From the acclaimed, award-winning author of Among Others and My Real Children, a tale of gods and humans, and the surprising things they have to learn from one another.

Created as an experiment by the time-travelling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past. Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—asking all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only the brilliant Jo Walton could tell.

"The award-winning Walton has written a remarkable novel of ideas that demands—and repays—careful reading. It is itself an exercise in philosophy that often, courtesy of Socrates, critically examines Plato’s ideas. If this sounds abstruse, it sometimes is, but the plot is always accessible and the world building and characterization are superb. In the end, the novel more than does justice to the idea of the Just City."—Booklist (starred review)

Available January 13


★ JANUARY 2015 INDIE NEXT PICK! ★ 

The Unquiet Dead 

Ausma Zehanat Khan

Ausma Zehanat Khan's haunting debut follows detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty as they investigate the death of a man who may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre.

Despite their differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she's still uneasy at Khattak's tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton's death. Drayton's apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn't seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak's team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case—could Drayton be a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995?

"This whodunit is layered into events as recent as the Maher Arar affair or Toronto’s fears of “homegrown” urban terrorists. Khan, who holds a Ph.D. in international human-rights law, knows her subject, knows her hometown, and knows how to keep the suspense building. This is a writer to watch."—Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail

"Khan’s stunning debut is a poignant, elegantly written mystery laced with complex characters who force readers to join them in dealing with ugly truths."—Kirkus Reviews

Available January 13


LITERARY

Outline

Rachel Cusk

A luminous, powerful novel that establishes Rachel Cusk as one of the finest writers in the English language.

Rachel Cusk's Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during one oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.
  

"To my mind Outline succeeds powerfully. Among other things, it gets a great variety of human beings down on to the page with both immediacy and depth; an elemental pleasure that makes the book as gripping to read as a thriller."—James Lasdun, The Guardian

“Outline is a poised and cerebral novel that has little in the way of straightforward plot yet is transfixing in its unruffled awareness of the ways we love and leave each other, and of what it means to listen to other people."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times 

"These 10 remarkable conversations, told with immense control, focus a sharp eye on how we discuss family and our lives."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Available January 13


The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac

Sharma Shields

A dark, fantastical, multi-generational tale about a family whose patriarch is consumed by the hunt for the mythical, elusive sasquatch he encountered in his youth.

Eli Roebuck was nine years old when his mother walked off into the woods with "Mr. Krantz," a large, strange, hairy man who may or may not be a sasquatch. What Eli knows for certain is that his mother went willingly, leaving her only son behind. For the rest of his life, Eli is obsessed with the hunt for the bizarre creature his mother chose over him. Boldy imaginative, The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac proves to be a devastatingly real portrait of the demons that we as human beings all face.

"Imagine a mashup of Moby-Dick and Kakfa’s Metamorphosis (with a hearty dash of Twin Peaks thrown in), and you’ll begin to get an idea of what Shields' ambitious tale of disenchantment sets out to do."—Kirkus Reviews

"This debut novel chronicles the life of a man obsessed by a childhood encounter with the mythical creature, which may be related to the disappearance of his mother. Just shut up – you had me at 'sasquatch.'”—Mark Medley, The Globe and Mail

Available January 27


CONTEMPORARY WOMEN

First Frost

Sarah Addison Allen

Featuring characters from her beloved novel, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen's new novel picks up ten years after that eventful summer when Claire Waverly's wild half-sister Sydney returned to Bascom and Claire met her now-husband Tyler. Things have settled down and Claire finds she has slipped back into a place of tightly sequestered sameness. It's comfortable. She likes it. But when her father Russell shows up he brings with him information that Claire doesn't want to hear and that will challenge everything she thought she knew about herself. Filled with Sarah Addison Allen's characteristic magic and warmth, this novel will reveal how the people who come into your life may not be the ones you expect, but they're there for a reason. And they don't change your one true voice, they make it louder.

"Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again, and in returning to the Waverley household, the winsomely wise Allen demonstrates that sometimes it’s necessary to embrace the magic to find out what’s real in life and in one’s own heart."—Booklist (starred review)

"Allen has written a beautiful, lyrical story, complete with genuine characters whose depth reflects Allen’s skill as a writer. Allen’s fans will be eagerly awaiting her next."Publishers Weekly 

"Richly drawn characters with dilemmas everyone can relate to make this book shine above everything similar."—RT Book Reviews 

Available January 20


 

NONFICTION

 

POLITICAL SCIENCE

Rebalancing Society 

Radical Renewal Beyond Left, Right, and Center

Henry Mintzberg

Our world is out of balance, says Henry Mintzberg, and the consequences are proving fateful: the degradation of our environment, the demise of our democracies, and the denigration of ourselves, with greed having been raised to some sort of high calling. But we can set things right.

Mintzberg argues that a healthy society is built on three balanced pillars: a public sector of respected governments, a private sector of responsible enterprises, and what he calls a plural sector of robust voluntary associations (nonprofits, NGOs,etc.). Communism collapsed because the public sector was overbearing—balance triumphed in 1989, not capitalism. But that misunderstanding has led to the private sector becoming overbearing in many countries, especially the United States, and this imbalance is wreaking havoc.

Available Now


HEALTH & FITNESS

7 Minutes to Fit

50 Anytime, Anywhere Interval Workouts

Brett Klika

There's a reason why searching Google for the New York Times article "The Scientific 7-Minute Workout" yields nearly 100 million results: we all want an exercise routine that's quick, efficient, and delivers powerful results. In 7 Minutes to Fit, the scientific study's co-author presents 50 all-new high-intensity interval circuits that only require a chair and a timer. 

Available January 14


PSYCHOLOGY

The Man Who Couldn't Stop 

OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought

David Adam

David Adam, an editor at Nature and an accomplished science writer, has suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences.

Drawing on the latest research on the brain, as well as historical accounts of patients and their treatments, this is a book that will challenge the way you think about what is normal and what is mental illness. Told with fierce clarity, humour, and urgent lyricism, this extraordinary book is both the haunting story of a personal nightmare and a fascinating doorway into the darkest corners of our minds.

"Well-researched, witty, honest and irreverent, Adam’s account proves as irresistible as his subject."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In a wide-reaching discussion that spans the spectrum of obsession, Nature editor David Adam strikes an impressive balance between humor and poignancy, and between entertaining and informing."—Publishers Weekly

Available January 20


BUSINESS

The Age of Cryptocurrency

How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order

Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey

Bitcoin pops up in headlines and fuels endless media debate. You can apparently use it to buy anything from coffee to cars, yet few people seem to truly understand what it is. This raises the question: Why should anyone care about bitcoin?

In The Age of Cryptocurrency, Wall Street journalists Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey deliver the definitive answer to this question. Cybermoney is poised to launch a revolution, one that could reinvent traditional financial and social structures. But bitcoin, the most famous of the cybermonies, carries a reputation for instability, wild fluctuation, and illicit business. Vigna and Casey demystify cryptocurrency-its origins, its function, and what you need to know to navigate a cyber-economy. 

"While many readers understandably have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of non-government-backed currency, journalists Casey (Che’s Afterlife) and Vigna, who blog about cryptocurrency at the Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat blog, here use their considerable expertise to make the Bitcoin phenomenon accessible."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Available January 27


MIND, BODY & SPIRIT

Angels of Love

How to Find and Keep the Perfect Relationship

Doreen Virtue and Grant Virtue

Gain confidence, clarity, and courage with the help of the angels. In this practical reference guide, you'll learn how to heal your heart and open it to all forms of love: self-love, spiritual love, healing love, friendship love, and romantic love. You'll discover how to develop a healthy relationship with yourself and others, built upon mutual respect and support. For those looking to manifest a romantic relationship, Angels of Love gives practical tips for how and where to find the right partner.

Available January 14


FOOD & DRINK

New German Cooking

Recipes for Classics Revisited

Jeremy Nolen and Jessica Nolen with Drew Lazor

Bright flavours. Fresh and healthful. These are not words we typically associate with German cuisine. But this beautifully packaged cookbook is not quite traditional. Featuring 100 recipes for familiar food re-envisioned to reflect the way we eat now, German Cooking Now celebrates fresh vegetables, grains, herbs, and spices as obsessively as it does pork, pretzels, and beer. Chefs Jeremy and Jessica Nolen share recipes from their family table, inspired by their travels in Germany. Slow-braised meats, home-made pickles and preserves, hand-cut noodles, and vegetables every which way-the recipes in German Cooking Now are entirely true to their roots, yet utterly unique. 

Available January 27


My Favourite Books of 2014, Megan Radford

by Megan
December 31, 2014

2014 was a year that couldn’t help but feel heavy… every time I turned on the news and let the world rush in, it felt as if a progressive heaviness sank into both limbs and mind, like someone had snuck chunks of concrete into my pockets when I wasn't looking.

When I sat down to have a look at my favourite YA and kids books of the year, I noticed a common pattern. All of these books had a lifting, a lightness to them, whether it be a character vaulting over the Berlin Wall, breaking physical and psychological bonds, or floating through the air in a balloon with animal pals. My favourite books of the year lifted and released.

Here’s to a lovely and lingering lightness in 2015. And may you charter your own balloon.

 

The Winner’s Curse

This one caught me completely by surprise – privileged girl buys slave, falls in love... we know the drill, right? But this story is so complex and layered, showing a power dynamic that fluctuates back and forth, life and love complicated by a social fabric that is in complete upheaval. While a lesser storyteller might have been satisfied to end with “love conquers all,” this book challenges the reader to dig deeper. Love here is an inconvenience and a curse, something that challenges the pleasantly constant currents of a stratified system and one’s role within that system. An utterly captivating, historical-feeling fantasy, where the time and place is richly evoked in every brocade thread and piece of buttercream lace. Pssst - even better, it’s the first book in a trilogy!

 

Going Over  

February 1983, Berlin. Ada lives in West Berlin, Stefan in East Berlin, separated by that infamous wall. If these two are to be together, as the title suggests, they will need to surmount that wall, leap over and into the air and be happy forever (well, it’s not quite that simple...). Here we get another heroine, like Kestrel in the Winner’s Curse, who is fierce, passionate, and smart. Ada is a punk, navigating the mix of immigrants, punks, and rebels in West Berlin. We see the world through her eyes and through the spout of her paint can as she sprays graffiti across the wall and yearns for Stefan. Will these two end up together? And what will they have to sacrifice to do so?

 

Sebastian and the Balloon

Tired of the run-of-the-mill goings on about his street, Sebastian crafts a balloon from his grandmother’s afghans and patchwork quilts and takes flight, meeting a whole host of new friends in the process. Philip C. Stead’s gorgeous illustrations and simple, lovely story will make you wonder what’s lying just over the horizon in wait for you.

 

And Away We Go!

Mr. Fox takes off in his hot air balloon on a trip to the moon. But… can Elephant come too? Giraffe? Can we bring pizza? What about Squirrel? Before long, the balloon is chock full. Will Mr. Fox make it to the moon? Or will his new group of pals find a more fun destination together? The colourful, classic illustration style and focus on new adventures is a perfect combination, and one that will again make you feel like taking off and learning what lies just beyond the glaring city lights. 


My Favourite Book of 2014, Alisha Whitley

by Alisha
Fiction / December 12, 2014

My favourite book of 2014 was Emily Gould’s debut novel, Friendship. It had been on my to-read pile for a couple of weeks when a friend forwarded me a July 18th New York Times piece about Gould along with three words: must-read-now. The next week was a flurry of texts and calls to one another (ex. “Have you read to the end of Chapter 5? What do you mean you’re eating? Book first, food second!”) as we read, laughed, and cried at (mostly) the same times. The story of Bev and Amy – two New Yorkers in their early thirties trying to navigate the not-so-perfect arenas of work, love, and friendship as they occur online and in real life – so perfectly captured the deep love shared by old friends and the complications of the heart that arise when two women begin to grow apart. Clever, heartwarming, and genuine, Friendship was the perfect book to share with my best friend (whose name also happens to be Emily).


My Favourite Books of 2014, Brooke Kosty

by Brooke
Fiction + Psychology & Self-Help / December 12, 2014

Snow in May

I was recommended this book by a fellow Raincoaster and a native Russian who heard I have a thing for Russian literature, and this did not disappoint. Melnik tells five interwoven stories that center around characters who share the same Russian hometown as the author herself. Melnik has an elegant writing style that lets you find moments both haunting and beautiful – without being told they are such – and by doing so, she plants them in your mind long after you’re done reading. One story about a mother’s painstaking journey to purchase a rare bundle of bananas for her children still tends to pop up in my mind every time I’m in what feels like a painfully long line at the grocery store.

What I Know For Sure

As many of my Raincoast coworkers know by now, I love anything and everything Oprah; this book is no exception. A curated selection of her ongoing magazine column, What I Know For Sure is the perfect amount of Oprah’s life lessons, wisdom, and anecdotes, all in small, beautifully-packaged doses.

Texts from Jane Eyre

As a literature major in school, I thought I’d worn myself out of anything and everything pertaining to classic literature. Apparently all it took was publishing a funny blog to knock me back off the wagon. Writer Mallory Ortberg captures famous novels and their characters so well that I often found myself (embarrassingly enough) thinking I was reading texts between old friends, ‘Oh man, that’s classic Jane…’ My favourite were the texts “by” Daisy Buchanan of Great Gatsby fame; the quintessential self-centered brattiness that made you forget she even had a child in the original novel is conveyed perfectly through Daisy’s manipulative texts pestering Nick for a ride home from the Valley of Ashes.


My Favourite Books of 2014, Sandy Cooper

by Dan
Fiction + Food & Drink + Kids / December 11, 2014

The Forgotten Seamstress

From the author of the well received The Last Telegram, fans were waiting for this next novel.

Caroline Meadows life is taking some unexpected turns, her Mother needs to move into care and so while she is clearing her mother’s attic, she discovers a beautifully crafted quilt and begins a search to find out the origins of this mysterious quilt and who might have stitched it.

1910 and Maria, an extraordinary seamstress, is employed to work for the Royal Family. Maria is young and beautiful, and soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales. But this connection soon leads to trouble for Maria and her life takes a sudden unexpected turn.

Will Caroline be able to find out about the quilt and discover what happened to Maria?

A very interesting and moving story that keeps you involved the whole way through. I can see this book as a movie…much like Philomena… past and present, following clues and revealing secrets as you go…

The Dirty Apron Cookbook

This is a fantastic cookbook. Great recipes, beautiful photography, and the nicest chef and teacher you could wish for. The mushroom soup recipe is straight from heaven. It will ruin you for any other mushroom soup anywhere.

If you are ever in Vancouver treat yourself and go by the Dirty Apron deli, or even better, sign up for one of David Robertson’s incredible classes at the cooking school. But if you can’t… buy this book and work your way through it from start to finish. You’ll be a pro in no time.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Sound Book 

Everyone has heard of the New York Times-bestselling children’s picture book…It’s my three year old Grandsons’ favourite bedtime story. But this sound board book is for an even younger audience… a sturdy board book with the favorite characters and a bonus side panel of wonderful realistic machine and engine noises. Great fun!

Sandy Cooper, Sales Director


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