June 2021 Newsletter

May Bestsellers

1. Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
2. Values by Mark Carney
3. The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett
4. Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
5. The Menopause Manifesto by Jen Gunter
6. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
7. Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson
8. World Travel by Anthony Bourdain
9. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
10. Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Greetings Book Lovers!

Happy Summer! The solstice has passed and those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer are stretching out before us like the most inviting of adventures! Who knows where these next few months will take us? Maybe we’ll be heading off to camp or safely visiting relatives. Perhaps we’ll hit the road and search out hidden gems within easy driving distance. Or we could treat ourselves to a hammock and while away some sunny days snoozing in the dappled sunlight…with a book, or course! Really, no matter how we plan to spend our summer days, we’re bound to have a great time as long as we do things safely. So, pack your sunscreen and prep your snacks – it’s time to find out what books should accompany you on all of this year’s summer adventures!

One of this summer’s must-read books has got to be the locally produced and published Ottawa Road Trips by Laura Byrne Paquet. With the pandemic digging in its heels and the country still subject to some travel advisories, what better year than this to discover some of the secret corners and overlooked nooks and crannies in our own province! Based on a popular blog and featuring trips that will take you no further than 100km from Ottawa, this useful and informative guide is the perfect thing to have riding shotgun whenever you get into the car this summer. After all, you never know when the need to hit the road is going to strike! If physically travelling isn’t on your to-do list this summer, maybe you’d rather travel by map with An Atlas of Extinct Countries by Gideon Defoe. Described as Prisoners of Geography meets Bill Bryson, this fascinating and charming book takes a no-holds-barred look at some of the countries and nation-states that have cropped up and disappeared over the centuries. Whether it was due to some kind of natural disaster, a democratic vote, or because Napoleon came knocking, the 48 countries touched on in this book simply slipped off the map and out of existence. Informative and revelatory, this book is the perfect balance of fact and funny and is sure to delight all members of the family on the sultry summer nights to come.

Being book lovers and word nerds are qualities that often seem to go hand in hand. As such, it’s seldom that a language book ever passes through the store without us noticing it! From books about strange or forgotten words to more academic books on the evolution of linguistics – we love them all! So, we were pretty excited when we unpacked copies of Arika Okrent‘s new book last week. Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme – And Other Oddities of the English Language is funny, intriguing, and full of rules that even some of the most fluent English speakers may not know! Due to innumerable cultural influences over the centuries, English is arguably one of the strangest languages out there. With exceptions galore and more oddities than you can shake a stick at, it’s baffling that this strange, sometimes incomprehensible language became as widespread as it is today. Whether English is your Mother Tongue or your third or fourth language, there’s something in this book for you! Okrent has filled the pages of Highly Irregular with answers to our most pressing language questions – “why is it eleven and twelve instead of oneteen and twoteen?” – and takes readers on a glorious trip down the wonky, winding river that is the English language.

Even if it’s been many years since we used to count down the days to the summer holidays, we somehow always retain a kind of fascination (or maybe fixation) with the magical, carefree time from the end of June to the beginning of September. It was a time when we didn’t have to worry about schoolwork and could just kick back and play in the sunshine all day long. Then, as now, one summer activity we can’t do without is reading…preferably in a hammock, but a lounge chair will do just as well! Regardless of where you’re sitting though, there’s nothing quite like spending hot, hazy days delving into a new book and disappearing to a distant place or time, only to emerge hours later to witness the first blinks of fireflies all around you. Okay, so it doesn’t always happen that way, but summer is definitely a time of year synonymous with the reading of great novels. Prepare yourself to plunge into the myths and legends of Ancient Greece with Claire Heywood‘s debut novel, Daughters of Sparta. As the daughters of a King, Helen (the face that launched a thousand ships) and Klytemnestra know that despite their incredible beauty, luxurious upbringing, and endless riches, their fates still lie squarely in the hands of their father and his male advisors. As young women, the sisters are separated and married to powerful kings in whose palaces they are expected to do only two things – give birth to an heir and embody the meek and demure nature of the ideal woman. When the weight of domestic expectations and royal ambition become too much to bear, these courageous women push back and what happens next sets off a devastating chain of events that ripple forward through time for centuries. Perfect for fans of Circe by Madeline Miller, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne, and A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, this novel is a beautiful story of sisterhood, love, war, and having the courage to fight for your place in the world.

Heroes and villains and the battles between them are something that many of us have gotten used to enjoying in the summer months (thank you, Marvel movie franchise). Since this year is a bit different on the silver screen front, why not enjoy your heroes and villains in print instead? Veronica Roth, the bestselling author of the blockbuster teen series Divergent, has gifted us with a wonderful adult novel that will not cede its grip on readers until the very last page. Chosen Ones is a tale as old as time – a villain rises up to destroy everything and five heroes (the Chosen Ones) are recruited to defeat it and return everything to normal – kind of. Ten years after defeating the Dark One with her four companions, Sloane Andrews has yet to recover from her ordeal and just wants to be left alone. But the Dark One isn’t finished yet, and Sloane is torn from her dreams of rest, relaxation, and recovery to finish what she and her companions started a decade ago. Can the Dark One be defeated once and for all so the world can finally rest in peace? Only time will tell. In a season often filled with beach visits and lounging under umbrellas, it’s always good to have at least one light, romantic read in your back pocket. For us, this month’s To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne is that read! After her father passes away, Gracie Cooper takes over his beloved champagne shop, laying her own art dreams aside in favour of her father’s wishes. But running a shop is complicated and Gracie soon finds herself caught between her desire to keep her father’s dream alive and pressure to sell to a large corporation. The only thing keeping her going is the advice she gets from a man she’s been chatting with in an online dating app – someone she’s never actually met, or has she? With hints of Nora Ephron‘s beloved You’ve Got Mail, this sweet and funny story is the perfect way to spend any summer day!

In a year full of changes, one thing that’s stayed the same is the fact that there are way too many books and far too little newsletter space! Here are some other recent and forthcoming releases that we’re excited about: The Shining Life by Harriet KlineHalf Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium by Lucy Jane SantosLove Your Life by Sophie KinsellaHome Stretch by Graham NortonTroy by Stephen FryVery Sincerely Yours by Kerry WinfreyRoyal Witches by Gemma HollmanWendy, Darling by A.C. Wise, The Maidens by Alex Michaelides, The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict (June 29), The Daughters of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase (June 29), Leonard, Marianne, and Me by Judy Scott (July 1), This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan (July 6), The Comfort Book by Matt Haig (July 6), The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs (July 6), Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin (July 6), Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim (July 6), While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (July 13), The Bookshop Cat by Cindy Wum (July 13), One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie (July 13).

Though many of you have been to visit us in the last two weeks, for those who haven’t, we have some exciting news – we’re open for in-store shopping once again! We can’t tell you how excited we are to have you all back in the store! Just the thought of being one step closer to “normal” brings tears to our eyes. It’s been such a tough year for everyone and we’re so happy to see that things seem to be heading in the right direction. Even though we’re open again, there are still some rules in place to keep us all safe.

  • All customers must wear a mask while shopping in the store, passing through the vestibule, or doing a curb-side pick-up.
  • Anyone entering the store must sanitize their hands on the way in, before touching any products.
  • There will be a maximum of 2 customers allowed into the store at a time in compliance with the province’s 15% capacity rule. This number will increase to 3 customers at a time (25% capacity) after Canada Day.
  • If the store is at capacity, we ask that customers waiting to come in form a line outside on the sidewalk, curving around the building towards The Clocktower. Taking into consideration our neighbours, The Scone Witch, our staff, and our couriers, we’d like to keep our vestibule clear and the doors unblocked so both businesses can be accessed easily.

Being open for in-store shopping, while exciting, doesn’t mean that we’ll be cutting back on other services here at the store. Orders can still be placed by phone (613-742-5030), e-mail (staff@booksonbeechwood.ca), or online (store.booksonbeechwood.ca), and we will continue to offer local delivery in surrounding neighbourhoods, shipping further afield, and curb-side pick-ups in addition to in-store pick-ups.

If you are one of those who has either called or visited us over the last month, you may have noticed that our bookstore family has grown by one. Cathy is a retired teacher, a passionate reader, and a long-time customer of the store and we couldn’t be happier that she agreed to join our team! With her sunny disposition, dedication to the shop, and wicked sense of humour, we know that you’re going to hit it off with her just like we did. Her wide-range of interests means that she’s incredibly well-read and likes to stay up to date on the latest book reviews and prize winners. So, when you’re next on the hunt for the perfect gift or just a good book for yourself, you will be in very safe hands with Cathy. The bookstore is a pretty special place and we’re so happy to now have Cathy as part of our team. It’s only been a month and we’re already having so much fun with her that we can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer (and beyond) has in store for us. If you happen to catch her on the phone or in the shop, be sure to give her a great big Books on Beechwood welcome!

Since summer has now officially arrived, it’s time to stock up on books to see you through the bright, warm days ahead. Although this summer will be a bit different than we’re used to and there will still be rules to follow in order to keep everyone safe, it does look like we’re heading in the right direction. That light at the end of the tunnel – the one that’s seemed so far away for so long – is getting closer and closer and we can’t wait to step out of the shadows and raise our faces to the sun once more. In the meantime, we wish you many happy days spent exploring far off lands and making new friends through the pages of some great new books!

Happy Reading!
Stay Safe!

— The Staff at Books on Beechwood

Hilary’s Bookshelf

What I’m Reading: Rabbits by Terry Miles

” Rabbits is a mysterious alternate reality game that you have to be in the know to get into, and even if you are among the chosen few, you will face unspeakable danger – possibly even death – for the chance at an incredible (and unknown) reward. Does that sound tempting? As the danger increases, so does the tension and you won’t be able to put this book down! It’s mysterious, technological, and thrilling. This debut novel is so unique and absorbing that it will make you forget where you are! A must read!”

Local Authors in the News…

St. Michael’s Residential School: Lament and Legacy [by Dan and Nancy Rubenstein] is one of the few narratives told by childcare workers who witnessed on a daily basis the degradation of Indigenous children. Their account will help to ensure that what went on within the residential schools will be neither forgotten nor denied.”

Listen to their interview with Alan Neal on CBC Radio’s All In a Day from June 7, 2021:

Dan and Nancy Rubenstein in conversation with Alan Neal


“In Frances Boyle‘s short story collection Seeking Shade, nuanced characters endure trauma, evolution and epiphany as they face challenges, make decisions, and suffer the inevitable consequences.”
Seeking Shade was shortlisted for both The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Danuta Gleed Award (for best debut short fiction collection) and the 2021 ReLit Award (for best short fiction collection from an independent publisher).

Danuta Gleed Literary Award
Quill and Quire
ReLit Awards

May 2021 Newsletter

April Bestsellers

1. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
2. Rockin’ on the Rideau by Jim Hurcomb
3. Values by Mark Carney
4. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
5. Hamnet and Judith by Maggie O’Farrell
6. The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett
7. The World of Jane Austen Puzzle
8. World Travel by Anthony Bourdain
9. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
10. The Bedside Book of Birds by Graeme Gibson

Greetings Book Lovers!

Well, May is here and although it’s been a touch cooler than we would like, we’re still marching steadily into spring. The trees are budding, the birds are singing, and great summer reads are coming in fast and furious here at the store. From front porch thrillers to lakeside sagas, backyard biographies to beach-worthy romances, there are so many new arrivals to choose from, we’re sure we won’t be the only ones resorting to simply doubling (or tripling) our to-read pile!

Before we get into the real thick of our newsletter, we wanted to take a moment to make a little announcement. Over the last number of years, we’re sure that most of you have either spoken to, bought a book from, or just chatted with our lovely staff member, Antoinette. Well, after over 15 years here at the store, our beloved colleague is moving on the bigger and brighter adventures in the big city of Toronto. Antoinette joined our bookstore family after a long career with the government and she quickly became an irreplaceable member of our team. With a wealth of experience, a wide-range of interests, and a deep love of (and eclectic taste in) books, she’s been an invaluable member of our team and even more than that, a very special friend. Through all the years of learning, laughing, chatting, reading, and working, we’ve had so much fun together and are going to have a hard time getting used to being in the bookstore without her. Even though she won’t be working with us anymore, we’re sure this won’t be the end of Antoinette’s time in the book world –  there are some pretty neat bookstores in Toronto, after all! Having been colleagues and friends for so long now, we’re going to miss her desperately, but wish her all the very best in whatever her future holds! Her last official shift with us will be the afternoon of Thursday, May 13 (sorry for the short notice), so if any of you want to say goodbye, feel free to give us a call or stop by to wish her well. If you want to send something by e-mail instead, just direct it to our store address (staff@booksonbeechwood.ca) and we’ll make sure Antoinette gets it. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but we know that we’ll see Antoinette again. And even though she won’t physically be in the store anymore, she’ll always be a part of our bookstore family.

Now that we’ve made ourselves cry, let’s get back to the rest of our (slightly waterlogged) newsletter!

We’ve always been fond of reading thrillers no matter what time of year it is, but there’s something strangely comforting about reading a slightly unnerving story while the heat of the sun is beaming down. In order to give yourself goosebumps in the sun this summer, we suggest you pick up a copy of The Savage Instinct by M.M. Deluca. Set in 19th Century England, you won’t know who to trust as you follow Clara Blackstone’s journey from the horrors of the insane asylum back to hearth, home, and husband. But her renewed marriage soon begins to feel as oppressive as her asylum cell once had, and help comes from a very strange quarter – England’s first serial killer, Mary Ann Cotton. A fascinating look at the lot of the Victorian woman (with lots of chills thrown in), we guarantee that you won’t be able to tear yourself away! Taking us to the very opposite side of the world, Katherine St. John’s The Siren is another thriller that we’ve been very eager to get our hands on! When a big-shot Hollywood heartthrob decides to film a new movie in the Caribbean, he knows that casting his ex-wife, Stella Rivers, opposite him will draw audiences in for the movie’s storyline as well as the intrigue of the cast’s real-life connections. As the movie crew gets down to work, it doesn’t take long before tensions start to rise – old secrets come to light, trust is broken, and a hurricane is brewing just offshore, threatening to make an uninvited cameo appearance! Full of scandal, mysterious characters, and all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, this book is definitely getting a permanent home on our forever shelf!

Sometimes when you’re searching for a new read, the only thing that will satisfy you is a great historical adventure! Are you among those readers who was captivated by Madeline Miller‘s novel Circe? Did you love travelling back in time to the ancient shores of Greece to follow the path of a young woman destined for greatness? Do the stories of Greek heroes, gods, and goddesses fascinate you? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, your next read should definitely be Ariadne by debut author Jennifer Saint. As a princess of Crete, Ariadne knows that there are certain qualities prized in a royal daughter – duty, loyalty, obedience, fealty – and much of life is spent dancing on a knife’s edge. When the young, dashing, Athenian Prince Theseus finds his way to Crete’s shores as part of a yearly tribute to the deadly Minotaur living beneath the palace, Ariadne not only feels herself drawn to his beauty, but also sees in him an escape from an unwanted marriage and a life lived as her father’s pawn. But will her decision, made in the bloom of first love, take Ariadne down the path she wishes, or will her destiny be altered once more by the will of powerful, fickle men. Told with incredible depth of feeling, this novel is shaping up to be one of our favourites of the year. Ariadne is beautifully captured and is a heroine more than worthy of her own legend!

Over the last year, many of us have rediscovered nature while working from home and obeying provincial health guidelines. There’s no denying that there are few things more calming and meditative than walking among trees and plants, whether you do so in a city park or a mighty forest. With what looks like another summer of quieter days ahead of us, now might be the perfect time to dip into one of our newest arrivals about the majesty, spirituality, and meditative power of trees. Rooted by Lyanda Lynn Haupt is a fascinating book about where science and the art of nature collide, supporting the theory that all life on the planet is intricately interconnected. Championing the theory of rootedness, a way of being at one with the wilderness, this book is perfect for fans of Braiding Sweetgrass, The Hidden Life of Trees, and Mary Oliver. In the same vein, debut author and TED Talk veteran, Suzanne Simard gives us even more to think about regarding our tree friends in Finding the Mother Tree. Part science book and part biography, Simard’s book explores the ways in which trees form communities, take care of each other, and relate to the other creatures around them. Inspiring scientists, nature lovers, and filmmakers alike, this book proves that, unlike what some people think, trees are good for more than just kindling and timber – they are a beautiful, ancient, irreplaceable, and fascinating part of our world and they deserve to be treasured, respected, and revered.

Whenever we stumble across a new release from one of our favourite authors, we tend to drop everything so we can start reading it right away! That’s exactly what we did last week when Morgan Matson‘s new book, Take Me Home Tonight, rolled into the store. When best friends Kat and Stevie head into New York City for a special night on the town, they have no idea what adventures are in store for them. Far beyond just having a fancy dinner and catching a Broadway show, Kat and Stevie’s night starts with a misplaced purse, a broken cell phone, and a fight of epic proportions. Oh, and we can’t forget about the Pomeranian! Hilarious, heart-warming, and sweet, teens (and adults) will love this great new book about love, friendship, and the truth about best laid plans! Debut author (and immediate favourite) Lynn Painter has gifted us a wonderfully charming teen book that is a true celebration of the rom-com. Better Than the Movies is a funny, sweet story about Liz Buxbaum and her determination to successfully nab her perfect crush. She may not have seen Michael in years, but that doesn’t mean that she loves him any less now than she did when they were kids. The only problem is that he seems to need some convincing to see her in a more romantic light. Willing to do almost anything to get her man, Liz enlists the help of her annoying (an annoyingly attractive) neighbour, Wes. Pretty soon, everything starts to feel a bit topsy-turvy and Liz is no longer sure what it is she wants. Dappled throughout with scenes that are at once cringe-worthy and laugh-out-loud funny, this book makes for perfect weekend reading material!

As usual, there are way more new books arriving every day than we have space here to tell you about, so here are some of the other new and forthcoming titles that have peaked our interest: The Anglo-Saxons by Marc MorrisBritain Alone by Philip StephensNine Nasty Words by John McWhorterSwimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui FengThe Taker by Alma KatsuHow to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen, Because He’s Jeff Goldblum by Travis M. Andrews, The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican, It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark, When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan, Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann, City of Vengeance by D.V. Bishop, The Hummingbird’s Gift by Sy Montgomery, Rebound by Kwame Alexander, Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas, Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson (May 18), The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (May 18), Not Yeti by Kate DiPucchio (May 18), Titanic by Nicola Pierce (May 18), Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli (May 25), Darkness by David Adams Richards (May 25), Pumpkin by Julie Murphy (May 25), Anna by Sammy H.K. Smith (May 25), Tremendous Things by Susin Nielsen (May 25), Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (June 1), The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1), Dad Up! by Steve Patterson (June 1), For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (June 1), Rememberings by Sinead O’Connor (June 1), Ham Helsing: Vampire Hunter by Rich Moyer (June 1).

It seems almost impossible that we’re into the month of May already. We’re not sure if it’s just us, but 2021 seems to be flying by pretty quickly so far. Maybe it just feels fast because of all the benchmarks we knew were awaiting us this year – staff shakeups, more lockdowns, etc. Regardless of the reason, witnessing the time slipping by so smoothly is just a reminder that we need to live each day to the fullest by taking care of ourselves, looking out for friends and family, and nurturing our love of simple things – the soothing feeling of walking under a canopy of trees, dipping our toes into the cool water of a lake, the smell of baked goods fresh from the oven, and (of course) the thrill of diving into a new book!

Wishing you all safe and happy days in the month ahead, wherever you are.

Happy Reading!
— The Staff at Books on Beechwood

Hilary’s Bookshelf

What I’m Reading: Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

“Eve, Susie, Justin and Ed have been friends since they were kids – their friendship was as solid as a rock! But tragedy still finds a way in and suddenly one of them is gone and the others are left picking up the pieces. Things take yet another turn when their heart-breaking loss reveals long-buried secrets which just might break what’s left of their friendship.
Full of loss, love, friendship, and painful soul-searching, this newest Mhairi McFarlane book is funny, sweet, sad, and perfect!”

April 2021 Newsletter

March Bestsellers

1. Values by Mark Carney
2. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. The World of Jane Austen: A Jigsaw Puzzle
4. Neglected No More by Andre Picard
5. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates
6. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
7. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
8. A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson
9. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
10. The Third Man by Neville Thompson

Greetings Book Lovers!

Well, this is a first. We’ve sent newsletters out late before, but we can honestly say that we’ve never been so remiss as to send it out in the dying hours of the very last day of the month in question. Except, of course, in February when we didn’t send one out at all (we still feel badly about that). Regardless of our lateness though (and the fact that most of you won’t read this until April has turned into May), we still wanted to send a little something out so we could tell you about all the great new releases that have come through our door this past month.

While it may not feel quite as spring-like out there as it did a few weeks ago, we can assure you that the seasons have changed; gone are the blockbuster book releases that always lead us into the holiday season and in their place have come quirky books about lesser known historical events, lighter novels to prepare us all for hours spent reading out in the sun, and thrilling adventure tales to take us around the world when our feet have to stay planted firmly where they are.

When travel was allowed, one of the things we loved most about visiting a new place was being able to poke around at our own pace, exploring and discovering shops, cafes, and hidden gems that you wouldn’t find in any guide book. Now, we can send our minds across the miles instead of our bodies thanks to the late Anthony Bourdain‘s newest book, World Travel. Taking readers to places as far flung as Tanzania and Borneo, and some closer to home, this guide is the only one you will ever need to sort out travel details, places to stay, and, of course, where to eat. Supplemented with essays by some of Bourdain‘s closest friends, colleagues, and family members, this wonderful new book will not only take you to exotic places, but it also gives you a glimpse into the life of a true globetrotter and food aficionado, one who will be greatly missed. While some people travel in order to enjoy the perks of being tourists in a foreign country, others leave their warm beds behind in search of unforgettable adventures. In The Third Pole, by Mark Synnott, readers are treated to the ultimate challenge in the scaling of Mount Everest. Though the mountain itself was the main goal for Synnott, his climb was also undertaken in an attempt to solve an almost one hundred year old mystery – the disappearance of two climbers in 1924 (decades before Sir Edmund Hillary’s climb) who were last spotted a mere 800 feet from the summit but whose success in reaching the top remains uncertain. In a climbing season that saw the deaths of 11 other mountaineers, Synnott and his partner battle through debilitating frostbite, revolting sherpas, and numerous close calls in their attempt to answer the irresistible call of the mist-shrouded, ice-capped summit of the world’s most desired peak. This thrilling read is perfect for fans of Into the Planet by Jill Heinerth, The Escapist by Gabriel Filippi, and Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

If travelling to far off lands isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps a journey back in time would suit you better. Three Martini Afternoons at the Ritz by Gail Crowther is not only a fascinating slice of history, but it also has a literary bent to it. Opening a window into mid-20th Century New York, this book takes a look at the intertwined lives of famous poets Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Despite their relationship being defined by bouts of jealousy and intense rivalry, these two larger than life women respected each other a great deal and had a standing martini meeting at the Ritz once a week to talk about everything from sex to suicide. Though both of their lives were short, their poetry lives on in the hands of readers, students, and poetry lovers. Whether you know their works well or not, this book will keep you hooked, shining a spotlight on the often sad and tormented lives of two of literatures greatest women. Staying in New York, but going back a bit further in time, one of the most interesting books to come across our desk recently is Paulina Bren‘s The Barbizon. It’s a tale as old as time – young people packing their bags and leaving home for the big city, hoping to make it big. Countless women made this trip in the freer post-war world of the 1920s, and while some found accommodation in New York’s boarding houses, some ended up on the doorstep of the Barbizon Hotel, “a safe have for the ‘Modern Woman’ seeking a career in the arts.” Men had their clubs and bars and women had the Barbizon. While not all the women who passed through its doors achieved fame and fortune, this incredible hotel did play host to some very well-known artists before they had gotten their big break – Sylvia Plath, Liza Minnelli, Grace Kelly, and Joan Didion, just to name a few. We had never heard about this little bit of history before and it’s fascinating to think that from 1927 to 1981 (when men were finally allowed into the hotel) there was a residential hotel that existed purely to provide women who were new to the city with a safe and comfortable place to stay. Among all the tidbits of history that are inevitably lost to time, we’re so happy that this unique story was saved and has now been brought out into the light for all of us to enjoy.

We’re not sure about you, but looking towards the summer days ahead, we plan on spending a significant amount of time lounging outside, basking in the glory of some wonderfully riveting novels. First on our list is the highly anticipated new novel by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, the critically acclaimed author of the bestselling novel The Nest. With as much heart and humour as her debut novel, Good Company is a charming family drama about a woman’s struggle to discover the truth about her life and her marriage. When Flora discovers her husband’s wedding ring safely tucked away in an envelope years after he told her he had lost it, her view of her marriage tilts on its axis. Did the “loss” of his ring have something to do with their reunion with her best friend Margot or is there a perfectly reasonable explanation for why he would lie about something so seemingly innocuous? Beautifully rendered, we think this novel of love and friendship is best enjoyed with a cozy blanket and a cup of tea! Touted as a modern day Shirley Jackson, Jennifer McMahon has gifted us this month with yet another thrilling, mysterious novel that will leave only goosebumps in its wake! The Drowning Kind takes readers on an incredible journey into the past as a young woman tries to untangle the mystifying threads surrounding her sister’s drowning. When Jax returns to their family home to go through her sister’s things, she discovers that Lexie had been researching their family history. Delving deeper into that history, Jax soon discovers that the land that’s been in their family for years, has a far darker past than any of them could ever have imagined. In a world where nothing is free and even wishes come with a price, this modern ghost story with send chills down your spine!

Debut Canadian author Michelle Grierson has spent years researching her Norwegian and Celtic ancestry and the stories she’s come across are the inspiration for her enchanting novel, Becoming Leidah. When her daughter, Leidah, is born with blue skin and webbed hands and feet, Maeva recognizes right away that her child has inherited her gifts. Knowing she must keep her magical ancestry a secret, especially in the face of the abandonment of the Old Ways, Maeva is determined to protect her daughter by hiding her away from the increasingly hostile villagers. It soon comes to light though, that the villagers may not be the only thing that Maeva has to worry about – it seems a mysterious shapeshifter has been dogging Maeve’s steps for years, waiting for her to reclaim her heritage. Beautifully packaged and written, this magical story is perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Neil Gaiman, and Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. From another great Canadian author comes a brand new war-time novel set in Toronto just before the outbreak of WWII. Letters From Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham finds 18 year old Molly Ryan working at any job she can find in an effort to get her family through the Depression that has hit her city hard. Though life is hard, she finds solace in her dreams of one day becoming a journalist and in her hours spent with her friend Hannah Dreyfus…and Hannah’s handsome older brother Max. As the years tick by, more and more of Hitler’s hateful beliefs make their way across the Atlantic, causing anti-Semitic sentiments to blossom and sparking tension between the Jewish and Irish communities. Those sparks soon become flames, and a deadly riot breaks out, with devastating consequences for both Molly and Max. Six years later, as Europe teeter on the brink of war, Molly’s world is thrown into turmoil yet again. With the future looking more and more dire, and the past constantly tapping her on the shoulder, reminding her of things she wish she could forget, Molly wonders if it’s too late to make things right. Will her love be strong enough to heal old wounds and cross dangerous divides in the very darkest of times? This wonderful novel will pluck at your heartstrings and completely transport you!

Despite how much we love reading adult novels and non-fiction titles, sometimes we just feel like indulging in a great children’s book. It’s especially hard to resist them when there’s a fun new adventure featuring one of your all-time favourite characters up for grabs! We first met Aven Green a number of years ago in Dusti Bowling‘s wonderful book Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Now, with a second starring role under her belt (Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus), Aven has returned once again, this time in a mystery-filled story for 6-9 year olds. Aven Green Sleuthing Machine is just as hilarious and heartwarming as Bowling’s previous books, with the added bonus that Aven is now spending all her time trying to solve mysterious occurrences at school (her teacher’s missing lunch bag must be found!) and at home (there’s no way her great-grandma’s dog would have left home of his own accord). This book might be small, but it is mighty and we guarantee that you will be smiling from the first page to the last! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again…Aven will steal your heart!

As per usual, the number of new releases that we want to read far outstrip the number of books we’re able to handle at once (if only things were different). Here are some of the other new and forthcoming releases that we think you should keep an eye out for (and maybe look up in our online store): Tiny T.Rex and the Very Dark Dark by Jonathan StutzmanSummer Adventures for Groot by Brendan DeneenShakespeare’s Gardens by Jackie Bennett, A Lethal Lesson by Iona Whishaw, Hiking Trails of Ottawa, The National Capital Region and Beyond by Michael HaynesVerona Comics by Jennifer DuganEmpire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe, The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell, The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen, The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas, The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLainThe Last Bookshop in London by Madeline MartinIn a Book Club Far Away by Tif MarceloThe Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska, Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson (May 4), Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane (May 4), The Crayons’ Book of Feelings by Drew Daywalt (May 4), Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (May 4), The Premonition by Michael Lewis (May 4), China by Edward Rutherfurd (May 11).

Wishing you all the best!
Stay safe out there!
Happy Reading!

– The Staff at Books on Beechwood

Hilary’s Bookshelf

What I’m Reading: The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

“After loving A Witch in Time so much, running away to a dark, mysterious circus sounded like a great idea! Set partially in 1920s Paris, this book is a great read – there’s action, adventure, mystery, magic, and love. There are even a few daemons thrown in for good measure! While the Secret Circus is full of magical rides, elegant performances, and thrilling feats, there’s a darkness that lurks beneath the surface and it will draw you in as surely as it does Sayers’ characters.”