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.”