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Launchpad: WHY BIRDS SING, by Nina Berkhout

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Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today, Amy Jones recommends Why Birds Sing, by Nina Berkhout, writing, “A bratty parrot, a group of whistlers, an opera singer who doesn’t sing—it’s impossible not to be charmed by the characters who inhabit Nina Berkhout’s Why Birds Sing. But this novel offers so much more than just a loveable, quirky cast of misfits, and Berkhout writes with an uncommon compassion and an uncanny understanding of what it means to be human. Why Birds Sing is an ode to the families we choose, and the love that chooses us (whether we want it to or not.) This is a beautiful novel full of humour, warmth, sorrow, and above all, music.”

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49th Shelf: What particular something have you ma …

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The Recommend: March 2015

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Robert Hough, author of the upcoming The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan; Nina Berkhout, author of The Gallery of Lost Species; Harry Karlinski, author of The Evolution of Inanimate Objects; Ann Dowsett Johnson, author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcoholand Steve Stanton, author and former president of Canada's national association of science fiction and fantasy authors.

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Robert Hough picks Black Bird, by Michel Basilières

"I’m not exactly sure how I discovered my favourite Canadian novel, though I’m pretty sure I have my editor at the time, a legend named Anne Collins, to thank. In my memory, we were at some industry party—likely a sweaty Harbourfront affair—when she pulled me over and, in a slightly conspiratorial voice, said, 'There’s a book coming out I think you’re going to like.'

The year was 2003. The title was Black Bird and it was the first title by a Montreal native named …

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On Our Radar: Olesen, Berkhout, Tsiang, Stratton, and Crozier

"On Our Radar" is a monthly series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.

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Kinds of Winter: Four Solo Journeys by Dogsled Through Canada's Northwest Territories, by Dave Olesen

The Lucky Seven Interview, Open Book Toronto:

"The central question of the book is not a question but a quest. One man’s quest for a deeper appreciation of his chosen home place in the Far North. Northern Canada is a place so fraught with clichés and stereotypes that it rarely emerges honestly in written descriptions. Throughout my years in the north I have always chafed against those sappy portrayals which constrain and alter perceptions of the North. As I got farther into the writing I also came to grips with my own lifelong fascination with North and with 'north-ness.' What was driving me out the door into the cold at 40 below zero? Why this lifelong fixation on North? Those are questions that emerged as I wrote, and I try to answer them in the book."

Read the entire interview here. 

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