Each novel in the Maisie Dobbs series focuses on a small aspect of the after-effects of war, and as the title hints, the fifth deals with mental illness. Among the Mad has the heroine using her peculiar investigating style and talents to help the brass at Scotland Yard to track down an anonymous terrorist who has threatened to kill citizens of London. When his demands are not met – pensions for certain WWI survivors – he chooses his first victims, and his method is alarmingly close to a gruesome way thousands of men died in the Great War: poisonous gas. During the course of her inquiries, Maisie comes to realize that of the thousands of shell-shocked men who returned from the war, many were not given the help that they so urgently needed and indeed, earned in service to their country, and it is one of their number who knows far too much about chemical weapons. As she gets closer to the killer, she also begins to glimpse some governmental machinations employed during the war, the consequences of which might be at the root of the killer’s mad threats. In her calm, methodical way, Maisie also helps her trusted assistant Billy Beale cope with his wife’s slide into deep depression, and her gets her friend Priscilla to face her unhappy memories of the city instead of drowning them in gin. At the same time, Maisie’s somewhat cold exterior begins to melt – just a bit - as she finally lets go of some demons in her own war-time experience. Among the Mad is a highly empathetic look at mental illness, and is overall a well-written, atmospheric novel of the inter-war years in London. Find it here in our on-line catalogue in print or as an audio book-on-CD.

Silver Tongue, by Charlie Fletcher

Silver Tongue, by Charlie Fletcher, 509 pages.
@ SPL: J FIC Fletc

The Darkness flowed into London on the same night that the Ice Devil arrived. Released through a crack in an ancient rock, this darkness was the purest, most malevolent gloom. Not the black darkness which results from the mere absence of light and hope, it was instead a force that, with the help of the ghoulish Walker, sucked light, hope and life into itself and obliterated them.

George, Edie and the Gunner are trapped in a perilous, hidden “unLondon” where two mutually hostile tribes of statues are cascading towards a final battle. The Ice Devil has frozen both time and the city; the heavy snowfall has buried everything; the people have disappeared - George and Edie are the only humans left. With time standing still, the way appears to be almost entirely open for the Darkness, the Last Knight and the Queen of Time to work their evil. George and Edie’s chances of vanquishing the Darkness back into the stone, pushing the Ice Devil back into the Black Mirrors, and resetting time into motion, are so slim….and yet, this is what they must somehow do.

Set in a many-layered London , Silver Tongue is a powerful and engrossing fantasy encompassing adventure, magic and history by a talented British writer. The book completes Charlie Fletcher’s epic “Stoneheart” trilogy which began with Stoneheart and Ironhand.

** Recommended for ages 11 to 15 years.

Shimmer, by Dallas Reed

Shimmer, by Dallas Reed, 314 pages.
@ SPL: YA PB Ree

The mysterious box had recently been uncovered in a cave near the peak of a nearby mountain by a blast crew. Now it was in Justin’s home, awaiting a professor’s expert examination. But as it sat on the desk in his dad’s study, Justin could sense that the box, carved from a type of deep grey stone, was exuding some sort of inexplicable, intractable force. Who had constructed this box … and what was inside?

Justin could have no idea of the horrific events that would unfold in his town when the box was impulsively opened by a high school acquaintance during a party at his house… events that would include the release of some sort of shimmering dust from the box, transforming everyone it touched… events that would send a group of terrified teens fleeing for their lives through a freezing blizzard …. events almost beyond imagination, which would change the isolated Colorado town of Winter forever.

A modern rewriting of the Pandora’s Box myth, Shimmer is a realistic, thrilling and mesmerizing tale that unfolds at an incredible pace, with well-developed characters and a satisfying ending. Teens will find it hard to put down.

Dallas Reed is a new author whose next book, The Calling, a paranormal thriller, will soon be released. Mr. Reed lives in Texas.

** Recommended for ages 11 to 16 years.

by Sheryl Garrett, Camilla Cornell

The Canadian publishing industry is doing their best to respond to the worldwide recession, and this one by Sharon Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network, and Camilla Cornell, an award-winning personal finance writer is a welcome addition. Written with the same style and formatting of other "For Dummies" books - that is to say, extremely easy to navigate with a fantastically detailed table of contents and index – this one is less alarmist than other financial aid books which makes it immediately less intimidating (because let’s face it, financial insecurity is scary stuff). The first part is about what they call “The Basics”, or figuring out where you stand. You may be better off than you think, or there may be gaps you had not considered. This section lets you assess where you can save, where you can reduce debt and how you can set goals to get you to the next steps. Part 2 is extremely useful for those who want to know where and when to invest their hard-earned-and-increasingly-valuable cash, explaining the cycles through which the economy can go. It explains the differences between stocks, bonds, hedge funds, commodities, RRSPs and the relatively new TFSA (tax-free savings account), plus it delves into real estate investment trusts, government bonds, and gives tips on getting the most from employer pensions and taxable accounts. Part 3 focuses on understanding the risks involved with different types of investments, and provides advice on how to protect your savings for the long road ahead. Part 4 goes into how to accumulate savings – even for beginner investors, and then there are chapters on heading securely into retirement (active or the slowing-down stage), how and when to draw on your savings, and even how to preserve assets with estate planning for future generations. Whether you are on shaky, stable or secure financial footing, there is an abundance of helpful advice to be found in this book. Find 76 Tips for Investing in an Uncertain Economy For Canadians for Dummies in our on-line catalogue.

By Mark Tatulli

Lio is almost an anti-comic strip, told without word balloons or captions (just the odd sound effect does nicely), so careful observation and an active imagination is essential when reading this book. With eyes like Little Orphan Annie and hair reminiscent of Ed Grimly, Lio is a kid who can out-Calvin Calvin and Hobbes, and none of the other popular comic strip characters are safe in his world either. Charlie Brown’s kite eating tree develops a larger appetite, Gumby wanders by to his detriment, Garfield’s lasagna-lust ends badly and a Dagwood sandwich develops a whole new meaning. Lio is an enigma – he may arm bears to help even the odds for woodland animals in one strip, but buy a puppy as a birthday gift – for his pet snake – in another. He treats squirrels and little demons with equal affection. He thrills at beating the Grim Reaper in board games (Life, of course), but shushes the Wild Things in his closet when they get too giggly. Part mad-scientist who keeps dragons, monsters and carnivorous plants as pets, Lio is also like normal kids – he wants to avoid chores, is bored in school and thinks he’s smarter than his somewhat hapless dad (in this case, he just might be). Consider it darkly gothic, subversively humorous or just plain weird, creator Mark Tatulli is the natural heir to Edward Gorey or Charles Addams brand of pictorial story-telling, making this a great entertainment for the discerning imagination. Click here to find Lio: Happiness is a Squishy Cephalapod in our on-line catalogue.

Ostensibly written for baby-boomers who are either too bored or too poor to enjoy retired life, this book is just as relevant for anyone currently looking for fulfilling employment. It includes essays from trailblazers who have done complete 180’s from their former careers, like a former car salesman who became sick of the way customers were cheated, and traded in his lot to become what he calls a “social entrepreneur”. He started a business that provides low-interest loans and fuel-efficient cars to low-income families in rural New Hampshire. The interconnecting chapters explain the current state of employment for the baby-boom generation in the US, but the appendix is the really helpful part that helps you focus your own career path. With hard questions to answer like how much income you’ll need and which community or national problems motivate you into action, the appendix shares links for occupational direction, and directly focuses on some of the more prominent fields, like education and health care. According to a further example in the book, one doesn’t need to have started out in either field to start a new career in them – a former truant officer became a critical care nurse in her “retirement”. With this book and its examples as your guide, you’ll be on your way to becoming part of what author Richard Florida calls “the creative class” – the class that is likely to change the world. For further career direction, check out the “Career Cruising” database, available for free on our website http://www.stratford.library.on.ca/databases.htm#employment
Find a copy of encore: finding work that matters in our on-line catalogue.

by Jeff Beneke

Summer is coming (eventually), and to make the most of the lazy hazy days of summer for your children, here's a book full of fun structures sure to keep their imaginations engaged outside. From the Creative Homeowner publisher, author Jeff Beneker has compiled a whole host of play areas. Each plan comes with a complete set of illustrative schematics, a list of tools, lumber and hardware that will be needed, and of course like any good construction book, this one starts with chapters on planning (choosing a site), specialty tools (i.e. post-holers), materials (choosing materials to create a safe play space), techniques, finishing and maintenance for each structure. Then we get to the fun stuff, the projects themselves. For the smaller backyards there are plans for simple sandboxes, swings and teeter-totters; for larger areas there are plans for monkey-bar sets, playhouses, and some pretty cool tree houses - one even looks like a boat, 'floating' through the trees. Advanced projects include a miniature Victorian playhouse - complete with gingerbread, no less, the aforementioned boat tree-house, as well as a tree-house fort, for those clubs and backyard adventures that tend to make up the more thrilling aspects of kid-hood. Each project is accompanied by photos of the finished product, and the index is accompanied by a handy Canadian-friendly Metric conversion table. Be prepared for the X-Box to accumulate a layer of dust if a set of these monkey-bars appears in your backyard! Click here to find Kids' Play Structures and Tree-Houses in the SPL on-line catalogue.

Casey and Derek on the Ice, by Marty Sederman, 28 pages.
@ SPL: JP Seder
Casey and Derek’s hockey team, the Rockets, have exactly one minute left to tie a hard-fought hockey game with the opposing team, the Titans! Can they do it? It doesn’t look promising. The Rockets are tired and are just about completely out of steam. As the suspense in the hockey arena builds and builds, the Titans are sure that they have defeated the “underdogs” and that the game is theirs.
When Casey wins the face-off, it’s up to Derek to score the tying goal. The fans are on their feet … Derek speeds down the ice, cutting through the Titan defense … but just as he’s about to shoot the puck, he is tripped and the final buzzer sounds. Now the Titan fans are on their feet, cheering the win.
However, this rewritten version of Casey at the Bat isn’t finished yet. There’s a twist – with a happy ending for the Rockets.
Young hockey fans will very much enjoy this rhyming picture book which is suspenseful from beginning to end, as well as Zachary Pullen’s illustrations.
Author Marty Sederman, her husband and her sons all enjoy playing hockey.
** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.

Click here to find Casey and Derek on the Ice in our online catalogue.

Inside Hockey! The Legends, Facts, and Feats that Made the Game, by Keltie Thomas, 64 pages.
@ SPL: J 796.962 Tho
As the NHL playoffs approach, kids can delve into the wild world of professional hockey with this book, which is packed full of hockey facts, inventions, personalities, anecdotes, stories, legends, adventures, photos and humour – of interest both to those who know a great deal about NHL hockey and to those who do not. Some of the practical jokes and hijinks that are a part of NHL history and legend are also included, and girls will appreciate that women’s hockey has also been addressed in Keltie Thomas’ latest sports book. Readers can even discover what types of good luck charms have been used through the years by various hockey players.
Readers will find the “inside scoop” on the dazzling careers of some of hockey’s greatest heroes, such as Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Sidney Crosby, Mark Messier, Phil Esposito and the “Board Street Bullies”. Perhaps best of all is the “Strange but True” section of bizarre stories: after reading it, the reader will agree that just about anything can happen in the world of hockey!
Keltie Thomas is a Toronto-based writer for children who has previous books about hockey, snowboarding, basketball, soccer, and baseball to her credit.
** Recommended for ages 8 to 13 years.

Click here to find Inside Hockey! The Legends, Facts, and Feats that Made the Game in our online catalogue.

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